The magic of the Atlantic
Stopover on the European Atlantic coast
The Atlantic coasts of Europe are bathed by the current called the North Atlantic Drift, a prolongation of the Gulf Stream. The latter is born to the south of Florida then runs northward along the American coast before moving eastward. Thus it brings warm water to the European coasts, making the climate milder.
Along the whole of the European Atlantic littoral, the flora and fauna are relatively uniform. One can, however, distinguish two main population types: one meridianal and the other septentrional which are mixed about level with Brittany, hence the exceptional richness of the marine life in this region.
The Atlantic's fish-bearing waters make it the most exploited ocean. This richness is partly due to the currents which locally favour the abundance of nutrients, but also to the extent of the continental shelf, the most productive area of the oceans where 90% of commercial fishing takes place.
The Charente straights
The 3 straights or coastal channels of the Vendée and Charente region coastlines receive a considerable food supply from rivers. It is protected from open waters by the Oléron and Ré islands, and remain nearly undiluted. The shallow water warms quickly in spring due to this regions exceptional sunlight quantity. These conditions favour phytoplankton development, which is the first link in many food chains.