Where does the word “gouf” come from? If the patois can designate by this term an underwater “chasm”, geologists use it to characterize Capbreton. The word is used to describe submarine canyons similar to that of Capbreton, which widens off the Atlantic Ocean, in the Bay of Biscay. There are 130 small canyons in the Bay of Biscay, but the Capbreton gouf is unique. Are you spending your camping holiday in Capbreton or in the Landes? Impossible then not to visit this beautiful seaside resort.
A rare geological phenomenon
Neither pit, pit, nor fault, the Capbreton gouf is an incredible underwater canyon formed over several million years by a plate tectonic effect, linked to gigantic variations in sea level. Extremely rare phenomenon, the canyon is attached to the coast. Both straight and sinuous, it is 300 km long, 1.2 km wide and its head is less than 10 m deep. It stretches from the abysmal depths to the coast of Spain. In Santander, it reaches a depth of 4.5 km. The head of the gouf could still be reached on foot 20,000 years ago. The latter has a considerable influence on the coast and constitutes a natural refuge in the event of strong swells.
Studies on its marine fauna and biodiversity have revealed that the guf is home to both rock fish and pelagic fish such as sunfish or tuna, but also crustaceans, cetaceans, squid, squid. Why is there such a rich marine fauna? The guf remains an extraordinary mystery, the secrets of which have not yet been fully revealed. Some species contrast with local specimens, such as the famous giant squid, and rare species come together: hammerhead sharks, basking sharks and beaked whales.
What do we really know about gouf?
To know its biodiversity, its morphology and to measure the depths, it was not until 1815, the year when the first map was designed by Commander Alexis Depoge. 3D images have been available since 2007. With the exception of military incursions, the Capbreton gouf has never been the subject of research, the funding of which would be too expensive. The only way to explore is to descend into the seabed with cameras, robots and drones, as well as sonar, allowing computers to model them.
Events around the Capbreton gouf
The gouf cannot be visited like any other emergent canyon. This is why, at the initiative of the writer Hugo Verlomme, the City has organized a Guf Day in September, every 2 years since 2015. This day highlights the Guf by inviting scientists and professionals from the field. sailor and enthusiasts. Another canyon is also invited. In 2019, the Viteaz canyon, in the Black Sea, was in the game. In 2018, Capbreton twinned with Nazaré, in Portugal, guest canyon in 2017, because of their geological similarity and common points (traditions, tourism, fishing, etc.). These events, such as meetings, conferences, documentaries, debates, but also interventions in schools, aim to make this exceptional geological phenomenon known as the gouf known to everyone.