A reference for professional divers
The CIP’s success is due both to its exceptional affluent seabed and to the avant-garde pedagogy, developed by one of its founders, Roger Weigel, diving coach and acrobatic wrestler at times. The collective thinking and aquatic know-how are at the heart of this pedagogy which remains connected to French diving federation’s rules, but nonetheless offers innovative progress such as regular meetings between teachers to observe trainees development or aqua-group work restricted to 2 or 3 students to foster their expansion. A special interest is allocated to optimize the students’ (aquacity/aquaculture)…
The ‘CIP Spirit’ recognized worldwide
Pioneer deep inside, the CIP swiftly suggests more defined trainings like those for ‘trimix’, induction trainings for the physically handicapped, historic submarine diving, or undersea Biology. Soon, European coaches stop-by Glénan to experience the ‘CIP spirit’ which became a recommendation, and where some divers even joined the Cousteau team. Even today, well-known submarine photographers and videographers such as Claude Rives or Didier Noirot, and various federal monitors, keep on transmitting the values acquired in the archipelago emeralds undersea.
An organization adapted to the island environment
The center shelters its divers in dormitories found at the heart of an old farm and in huge circumstantial tents. The diving equipment and compressors are stored in a side of the farm and a construction belonging to the General Council of the French department of Finistère, located next to the dock, acts as living room to the trainees. An aluminum vessel, the Pierre Marie and a previous trawler, the Corto des Glénan supply and carry students on the diving sites throughout the season.
Pioneer in sustainable development
With regards to the ecologically aspect, the CIP has remained unchanged for 50 years: same organization and same concern for water and energy saving, supplied to 30% by the wind, the rest being provided by a generator. ‘It has been roughly 50 years since we settled on this extraordinary location. We realize our opportunity and we do our best to help protect the archipelago,’ explains Laurent Cayatte, regional trainer and director of the business since 1985, surrounded by his wife, 3 other employees and various volunteers on roster during this period.
The CIP hosts on a yearly basis nearly 1,200 students, representing more than 6,000 dives and submits around 150 diving patents out of which 35 to 40 are federal coaching. Overall, 70% of the running of the business comes from training sessions.
According to Laurent Cayatte, CIP looks forward towards investing in the infrastructural development rather than to host additional trainees. ‘We have several schemes in the pipeline such as the acquisition of an electric compressor, the construction of a stormwater outfall and new houses. Additionally, depending on subsidies, we would like to convert the ranch into an “ecomuseum” to notify visitors about the exclusive nature of the archipelago and to share the marvels that we see under water,’ stresses the manager, with a dreamy eye.
Preserved and teeming seabeds and full of life
Situated at the end of a nonstop line of shoals up the Groix Island, the archipelago consists of worn crystalline rocks (two-mica granites) having numerous rounded shapes. The archipelago is well-known for its crystal-clear waters due to strong existence of marl along with the offshore waters, inflowing the Concarneau Bay all along the islands and away from urban or industrial extracts.
Underwater hunting is prohibited in two thirds of the archipelago. A seemingly successful rule according to the CIP instructors’ team, who has noticed an increasing number of mature fish in recent years. ‘We can for example perceive bigger “vieilles” than before in some sites,’ confirms Laurent Cayatte, who, however, regrets the fact that net fishing is still authorized.
Eelgrass and marl beds support a rich biodiversity
The archipelago is distinguished by two stands of heritage found on soft bottoms. The Glénan eelgrass symbolize one of three major sites of Zostera marina in Britain, while the marl beds, created by solidified calcareous red algae (Lithothamnion corallioides, Phymatholithon calcareum) is one of the richest marine habitats in terms of biodiversity. Both play a fundamental breeding site role, of feeding and shelter for many species. The marl beds look like large underwater areas where exist nearly 800 animal species and above 100 algae species, browsed by several amphipods and herbivorous gastropods, which by their biological nature, feed the world scavengers (small crustaceans and marine worms). Divers can find many species of fishes and crustaceans like bars, congers, lobsters, torpedo rays, soles, mullets, cicadas, John Dory, trigger fishes, gurnards, octopus, sea hares, monkfish and dogfishes, and looking in between the stones they can observe crabs, cake, Galatea, targeurs, blennies, gobies, tripterygions, abalone…
The vast variety of archipelago’s undersea is made up of plateaux and drop-offs and the wealthy submarine flora and fauna attracts divers addicted to ‘bio’. The diving sites are well spread throughout the archipelago and one can always dive regardless of the weather.
Rich and varied seabed
Laon Egen Hir, the most well-known dive site of the archipelago
Found at the southeast of the archipelago, Laon Egen Hir is one of the famous diving sites. Between 0 and -18 meters appears a collection of stones where divers can notice a chain of caves covered Corynactis, splendid charming and colorful anemones. It’s a real pleasure to rush in the many gaps between algae and sponges to meet the entire classical archipelago’s wildlife. There are many live or transiting species such as spiders, crickets, sea and striped mullet torpedoes, octopus or Saint-Pierre.
‘Les Bluiniers’ named ‘witches’ pot’
Another must see site for professional divers, the ‘Pic Jules Bonnot’, still called ‘Les Bluiniers’, is a highland which ranges between -20 and -40 meters deep at the west of the archipelago. Divers discover a unique biological curiosity named ‘witches’ pot’, a sort of 1 to 3 meters cylindrical holes produced by a turning pebble, in ancient times where the Odet’s river flowed. It is common to find spiders and crabs stuck in big pots unable to escape the smooth and curved walls. Divers particularly enjoy the mineral site where they can admire congers, coquettish, nudibranchs, Bonelli, Corynactis, Axinella, feathers, gold, yellow and kingfisher, white and red.
Exploring wrecks of Glénan
Many wrecks are found in the archipelago and fascinate underwater archeology and history cohorts. The Orseolo Pietro Wreck is one of the most well-known. The Italian cargo measuring 142 meters long and 18 meters wide was requisitioned during the 2nd World War by the Germans, who filled it with food, weapons and tools to Japan. The primary target of a regiment of 20 British aircrafts of the RAF, the vessel remained in Concarneau’s channel prior to being sunk a mile from the north of the Penfret Island in 1943. According to history, divers engaged in the French resistance managed to open the hull to retrieve the products. Today, the wreck peacefully rests in the archipelago and is shown by a surface float. Positioned on muddy sand between -17 and -30 meters, the wreck is slightly tilted to starboard. Guidance on the wreck is not obvious, especially as the holds have been destroyed and the upper parts leveled. It is therefore counseled to master the basic information before visiting the wreck. The bow, in the north-west, rolled to starboard. The propeller shaft, ornamented by sea fans, comes to be an important guide to move to and from and remains an impressive rudder. No need to look for the propeller which no longer exists. However, no one should miss the 3 caterpillar trucks located on the front. Cables stretched to 20 feet deep are vital to join the front and the back boat from the central part which includes a huge unrecognizable engine. The wreck is occupied by bars, old, blennies and congers. An imposing shoal of pouting swirls around the ruins and accompany visitors throughout the dive. Changing, the visibility can sometimes be limited or excellent.
Other wrecks lie in the archipelago like the Arab (ex-Jean Bart), a 35-yard corvette lost in 1796, of which only a few guns, the anchor and pieces of copper and lead remains; the Mustang and Ellé, two steamers lying between -5 m and -15 m for the former and between -10 m and -20 m for the latter, or the Aliah, a 43 m Holland cargo lost in 1940. This wreck is found at -38 meters on a sand bed. The bow is upside-down and occupied by some congers.