A recent story

Opening in 1972

The reserve was opened to the public in the autumn of 1972 and although its focus has shifted at various points in time, its overriding concern has always been to protect the reserve’s unique natural environments and the wild creatures that live there.

At the end of the 1960s, a group of local ornithologists (Pierre Davant, Pierre Petit, Alain Fleury and Claude Quancard), came to the conclusion that the bassin d’Arcachon was potentially a very attractive environment for birds, but could not fulfil its potential because of the absence of protected habitat along its shoreline. They contacted the Mairie du Teich and put forward the idea of creating a bird reserve along the lines of that which had already been established at Zwin in Belgium.

“Commune du Teich”

The municipality took ownership of the reserve, and thus of part of the municipality’s coastline, in exchange for municipal forestry plantations. Work began on making the site a better environment for wildlife and improving public accessibility and the Parc ornithologique du Teich came into being. Forty years later, as part of its anniversary celebrations, it was renamed the Réserve ornithologique du Teich…


It was in 1989 that the orientation towards ecotourism is taken by the new municipality in partnership with the Regional Natural Park with the establishment of the house of the nature of the Bassin d’Arcachon. The town of Teich still owns the reserve, which it runs in tandem with the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes Gascogne according to a bipartite agreement.

A rural heritage

18° century

The land on which the reserve stands was reclaimed from the sea from the first half of the 18th century onwards. Clay dykes were gradually constructed on the salt meadows, both to protect the village from the winter floods and above all to allow for the establishment of a kind of non-intensive form of fish-farming: ‘fish reservoirs’.

Fish reservoirs

These ‘reservoirs’ (a type of stocking pool) are shallow bodies of water topped up by seawater via sluices in the enclosing dyke. When there is a spring tide, the sluices are opened.


The water that flows into the reservoirs as a result brings with it a multitude of fry (juvenile fish) born in the Arcachon basin or the open ocean. Prevented from escaping by an ingenious system of nets, they will grow rapidly inside the dyked area, thanks to the highly-productive ecosystem here, due to the relatively high temperature of the water, the absence of any currents or tides and the proliferation of plankton, algae and vegetation.


In a few months, these fish will be large enough to be sold commercially. Previously they were kept ‘in reserve’ (which is where we get the name ‘reservoir’) in anticipation of the autumn storms which would confine thefishermen (whether they used sailing boats or rowing boats) to port. During these periods of bad weather, the price of fish rose and it was at this moment that the owners of the reservoirs would chose to empty their ‘reserves’, putting their fish on the market at much higher prices than they would have fetched just weeks before…


This type of fish-farming, together with agriculture (tobacco, potatoes, rye) and stock-raising (sheep), continued until the middle of the 20th century before entering a slow decline due to the cost of dyke and reservoir upkeep and high employment costs. In the 1960s, the largest source of income derived from these dyked areas came from the sale of hunting licences. Local authorities started buying up land in the 1970s (within Le Teich’s municipal boundaries) and then in other parts of the Arcachon Basin by the 1980s. These acquisitions were designed to provide lasting protection for these dyked areas, which are an integral part of the region’s heritage.

Heritage Practices

Visitors to the reserve can still see certain structures which date from the site’s earliest days – a sluice-keeper’s house and a shelter for sheep. Although the reservoirs reclaimed from the Arcachon Basin have undergone certain modifications to their shape over time, they are still very much intact. The sluices are still opened on a regular basis to maintain the water levels and safeguard the biodiversity of these bodies of water. However, you shouldn’t be expecting any miraculous catch of fish any time soon, unless you count the fish-eating birds that descend on this area en masse at specific times of the year…


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