Just before 11.30pm last Friday night, we found ourselves standing somewhat apprehensively in almost complete darkness at La Rocque Harbour. For people more accustomed to the bright lights of the Weighbridge at that time on a Friday, it was a little unusual to say the least.
Any initial nerves melted away however when we were approached and warmly greeted by Derek of Jersey Walk Adventures who was to be our guide for the evening, ably assisted by his colleague Trudie.
Furnished with hired wellington boots and with brief introductions made to our fellow late night adventurers, we made our way cautiously down on to the beach to begin the hunt for what must be the most fascinating and mystical of Jersey’s marine life, tiny bioluminescent worms that inhabit the sands around the south east coast RAMSAR site. Noted by local fishermen for time immemorial, these real Jersey wonders have only come to the attention of the scientific world in the last half a dozen years.
Blessed with a cloudless night, our orientation briefing included Derek pointing out planets and constellations in the star crowded sky above us, before we made off, away from the car headlights and warmly lit windows of land and into the inky dark moonscape ahead.
We hadn’t ventured far, picking our way around rocks and clumps of seaweed as our eyes slowly started to adjust to the darkness, before we hit gold – or green, to be more precise. Gathering us into an expectant circle, Derek dragged one wellington-clad foot through the sand and shingle seabed, and the group let out a collective gasp as the channel he’d created lit up like a Christmas tree, with the light of a thousand minute luminescent worms, each hardly wider than a human hair and glowing for all they were worth. It was quite honestly the most breathtaking and unexpected example of the wonders of nature that I’ve ever seen, and less than a 10 minute drive from my own front door here in Jersey.
I don’t want to spoil all the surprises before you take part in this fantastic walk yourself (and I urge you to do so) but the next hour or so passed in a haze of child like discovery and delight, splashing through underwater fireworks and writing our initials in twinkling sand, punctuated by just the right mix of facts, anecdotes and jokes from our knowledgeable guides.
Before we knew it we were back at La Rocque, stamping the sand off our boots and wondering if that really just happened. If you only do one new thing this year, I urge you to go out and discover these mysterious creatures who share our Island for yourself, but please do not forget that our beautiful coastline is treacherous and low tide walks MUST be undertaken with a qualified guide. You can book the bioluminesence walk, amongst a selection of others, with Jersey Walk Adventures.
(It is far beyond my modest capabilities to take photographs of this phenomenon, so for the purpose of this post I have borrowed an image from Jersey Walk Adventures/Phil Halper)