In June this year my boyfriend and I went on holiday to Jersey. Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands located between England and France and is a self-governing dependency of the UK. Jersey has a mixture of British and French cultures and even has its own language, Jèrriais, which is a mixture of English and French. However, the language is now slowly vanishing for various reasons such as the tourist industry and the influence of English residents. Jersey is mainly known for its beaches, Cliffside walking trails, inland valleys and historic castles.
Jersey has a small population with only around 100,000 people living there in 2014. Despite the country being only very small this does not take away from how beautiful and picturesque it is. This small country has a lot going for it in terms of conservation and with it being the perfect place to unwind. Jersey has such a laid-back pace of life and for me different parts remind me of different countries and cities, such as Brighton and Portugal.
While we were in Jersey we decided to go on a Seafari to the Ecrehous. The Ecrehous is a group of small islands and rocks located 6 miles north-east of Jersey and 8 miles from Normandy. The islands are under the administration of Jersey but despite this towards the end of the 19th century Frenchmen have begun to cast their eyes on the Ecrehous. French ‘invaders’ continually land on the Ecrehous and raise Norman flags in an attempt to get the Ecrehous recognised as part of France. Maîtr’Île is the largest of the islets and measures approximately 300 meters in length and 150 meters wide. There are no permanent residents on the islands due to there being no drinking water and the likelihood of flooding due to hightides (Jersey has one of the largest tidal movements in the world) but there are a small number of fishermen’s huts on the main island. Having said this, there was once a fisherman who lived on the island for around 40 years and only visited the main island once a week.
Jersey Seafari’s run two separate trips to the Ecrehous, a 2 or 3 hour tour (I went on the 2 hour tour). To get to the Ecrehous we took a RIB boat which is about a 15 minute ride away where we got to see a vast array of wildlife and explore the reef from the RIB. The most common wildlife sightings are seals and dolphins but on our trip, we only saw seals (Atlantic grey seals) and a lot of birdlife, such as fulmars, oystercatchers and wildfowls. After exploring the Ecrehous from the RIB we were then dropped off at the main island, Maîtr’Île, for about 50 minutes to explore the island on foot where we had the opportunity to look around the fisherman huts and have a picnic or have a swim in the beautiful turquoise waters.
Overall, the Seafari’s experience felt euphoric and inspirational, the experience was unique with the guides being well informed and very friendly. I cannot recommend this experience enough, to anyone thinking of going to Jersey or lives there/near there.
While I loved the Seafari’s experience it wasn’t until afterwards that I learnt more about the company and the Ecrehous. On our trip we were told that the main animal sightings were bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic grey seals but there are other animals that can be spotted in this area but the sightings aren’t as common. Other animals that can be spotted off the coast of Jersey include; basking sharks and Pilot whales, while both sightings are rare since Jersey is just a migratory point, it’s important that the area is preserved so that their migratory course is not disturbed.
Furthermore, not only do Seafari use their vessels for commercial use but they also conduct a variety of surveys for data collection and scientific studies, such as:
- Marine sea bird populations
- Civil and hydrographic surveys for biological monitoring programmes
- Environmental impact assessments
- Conservation assessments
It’s important that regular surveys and data collections are carried out on the Ecrehous as it is a RAMSAR site. This means that the Ecrehous is an area of international importance for wetland wildlife as well as being part of Jersey’s Coastal National Park. RAMSAR is the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements and is a was created by countries and non-governmental organisations who were concerned about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat. Therefore, this allows the Ecrehous to be protected under this treaty and with Seafari’s carrying out studies and data collections which helps to further protect the area and its wildlife.
The work that Seafari does is of grave importance to maintaining this area and the experience that they offer to the public to see this wonderful site is magnificent.
To find out more about Seafari and what they do or to book a tour with them, this is their site; https://www.jerseyseafaris.com/