The Banc d'Arguin is a crossroads for aquatic birds migrating between Europe, northern Asia and Africa. Over two million sandpipers have been recorded in the winter, and many species use the national park for breeding also. The sea is crystal clear and shallow (no more than about 3m (10ft) deep 25km (15mi) from shore) and is dotted with sand islands where the birds nest and rest. The only way to see the birds is from small boats, and then only with permission from the national parks service, and a guide. Visitor times are strictly regulated - you are not allowed get close to the birds during the twice-yearly mating season - so plan ahead. A 4WD is required and the trip involves a 155km (96mi) drive along the beach - knowledge of tides is essential - then another 50km (31mi) through desert. Bring your own boat. Arguin Bank is about 250km (155mi) from both Nouakchott and Nouâdhibou, but even more difficult to access from the north.
The beach coast is also another wonderful aspect of this Banc d'Arguin National Park. After El Manghar you have at leat 180km of sandy beaches with dunes aside. Remember that 40% of the country is covered by sand.
Some 1,000 Imraguen fishermen carry on the tens of thousands of years of documented human population. Earlier, due to a more humid climate, population was higher and remnants from the Almoravide civilisation are found on a number of the park's islands.
The Imraguen, or "those who gather life", carefully gather the resources of the park. The government has no fear of resource exploitation by the Imraguen, on the contrary. Carrying on with age-old life styles and fishing techniques, the Imraguen themselves constitute a valuable cultural resource, managing the natural resources in a sustainable way.
Sousa taxonomy is based largely on small sample sizes for most populations. The several different nominal species are distinguished on several primary characters. Characters include tooth counts; number of vertebrae; form of the dorsal fin base and especially colour patterns (G. Ross, pers. comm.). G. Ross suggests that all Sousa from S. Africa to China and Australia are one species, and probably S. teuszii is also conspecific. However, "we will have a better idea when we can include more definitive genetic work" (G. Ross, pers. comm.). For the purpose of this review, I followed Rice (1998) who separates the Genus Sousa into three species.
According to Carwardine (1995) this species seems to be particularly common in southern Senegal and northwestern Mauritania.
There are signs of a probable north-south migration for this species and there is a potential exchange of individuals between known population or subpopulation distribution centres (from north to south): Dakhla Bay, Banc d'Arguin, Langue de Barbarie, Sine Saloum delta, NW bank of the Gambia River outer estuary and Guinea-Bissau archipelago (van Waerebeek et el. 2000).
In 1989, the Mauritanian national park Banc d'Arguin was admitted to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. Fringing the Saharan desert's Atlantic coast, the park is made up of sand dunes, coastal swamps, small islands and shallow coastal waters. It is however even more known for its biodiversity (birds, fish, turtles, dolphins, etc.) and its fishery resources, carefully managed by the local Imraguen fisherman.
The park provides an unique example of a transition zone between the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean.
Big dunes can be found all the way. You can imagine this place can get really warm during the summer.
The area is of great meteorological interest with a contrast between the coastal, 'desert cold' and hot continental climates. Strong winds up to 8m/sec, have been reported. Rainfall is irregular and very low with an average of 34mm-40mm per year. Temperatures are fairly similar all year, with a mean monthly minimum in December of 8°C and maximum in September of 34°C (Monod, 1977).
The park provides an unique example of a transition zone between the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a vast area of islands and coastline, largely composed of windblown sand of Saharan origin, together with a large expanse of mudflats, with particularly well developed tidal flats in the vicinity of Tidra Island.
on the picture was when I saw the ocean comming inland since i had got out of Nouadhibou. We went first in some truck tracks inland to escape hard dunes.
On your way from Nouadhibou to El Mamghar you have at least 3 fishermen settements. Just 2 or 3 houses and some boats.
On the picture you can see some boats on the water.
This was the first kilometres we made after the big truck tracks of the inland region after Nouadhibou.
A sunset in the Sahara desert is in fact one of the most unforgettable things one can experience. The dunes along with the vast empty spaces in ocre color are something you'll remeber forever.
This place is just a few kms away from Nouadhibou it self. After passing all the construction site of the possible new road NDB-NKT you have this type of terrain. Herds of camels are somehow common.