La Rochelle, France (7 jours/7)

Dr Raymond Duguy

Doctor, naturalist with a passion for marine mammals

Trained as a medical doctor who practised for nine years in Maine-et-Loire, Dr Duguy arrived in La Rochelle in 1961 as curator of the Natural History Museum. He created the national centre for the study of marine mammals and the oceanography Museum till 1992.

He became President of the Société des sciences naturelles de la Charente-Maritime in 1963 for a period of 44 years.

Faithful to Théodore Monod, he was a companion of Commander Cousteau, whom he accompanied to Antarctica in 1972 on board the “Calypso”.

The story goes that it was a mass stranding of pilot whales on the coast of the island of Yeu in 1963 that led Raymond Duguy to marine mammalogy. He then undertook to make an inventory of the marine mammals present in French waters, and for this purpose, at the beginning of the 1970s, he set up a network of correspondents responsible for studying the animals reported stranded on all the coasts of France. These correspondents belonged to naturalist associations, were agents of various public services or worked in a personal capacity.

The French Stranding Network is the direct extension of this inspiration. Improving knowledge of marine mammal populations by analysing their strandings has always been the guiding principle of this network over the last four decades.

Stranding on the Ile de Ré, 1963

In this film Raymond Duguy tells the story of the stranding of 96 pilot whales on a beach on the Ile de Ré on 7 December 1963, illustrated by impressive archive footage. JRM Productions 2008