The first time I heard about seals, I was a teenager. I was sailing dinghy off Dunkirk. There was a sandbar that was commonly called “Seal Island”. We went there regularly in the hope of seeing some at low tide, but at the time I never crossed any of them. It must be said that it was at the beginning of the 90s: although the species had been protected for about 20 years, seals still remained rare.
It was only when I was working on my series “It’s in my nature” (2016-2017), on the fauna of the Hauts de France, that I once again became interested in seals. A little by default at the start. It was indeed the easiest marine mammal to approach, at least when compared with the rare cetaceans that pass between the English Channel and the North Sea. Several large settlements have taken up residence along the Opal Coast and it is not uncommon today to see a few dozens resting on a sandbar.
But I must admit that I fell in love a little bit. Firstly because they are very endearing animals, shy but curious and very funny (have you ever seen a seal yawn or scratch?). Then because they are finally quite difficult to photograph well. They make their appearance at low tide, which does not necessarily coincide with the moment when the light is good. In addition the beaches and the sea is all in all… … quite flat a minimalist decor! It took me (as for many other animals elsewhere!) To get to know them, understand their behavior, but also play with their environment to succeed in approaching them.
So I wanted to dedicate a full project to them. After more than two years apprehending them, scheming, to arouse their curiosity to photograph them, on beautiful days or in bad weather, on the beach and in the water, from the ground or from the air (thanks to a drone), I wanted to share my work. I still have a lot of images in mind that I have not yet managed to capture. This exhibition is, for me, more a step than an end in itself.
Philippe Druesne – Seals on the Opal Coast
April 1st to 6th, 2018
Farm of the egrets
181 Alley of Discovery