Portelet Bay is to have its own self-guided snorkel trail for people to discover its features and marine life.
There will be no underwater markers, buoys or any defined route; rather signs along paths down to the bay will indicate areas of interest, as well as give safety guidelines and advice on what to look out for.
The project is being overseen by the Blue Marine Foundation, a marine conversation charity which is also campaigning for Jersey to create a Marine Coastal Park.
The trial is designed to dovetail with the bay’s possible designation as a ‘no-take zone’, if the States agree to support the Environment Minister’s plan to ban all fishing and the collection of shellfish from a small area in and around the bay.
Blue Marine Foundation Jersey Project Officer Freddie Watson said the snorkel trail was the first one the charity had developed after seeing the success of trails in Berwickshire in Scotland.
Pictured: Some of the marine life that snorkellers can see at Portelet.
“The foundation is keen to bring the marine environment closer to people and make it more accessible to the public,” he said.
“The more people in the water engaging with the marine environment, the more aware they will be of how fascinating and precious it is.
“It will be a self-guided snorkel trail. There won’t be any physical markings, save the signs on the shore, nor will there be a set route to follow. Rather, it will indicate areas where you will hopefully find interesting features and marine life.”
He added: “Portelet has a great array of seascape features such as large boulders, rocky reefs, steep gullies and shallow rock pools. You can also find seagrass, various types of seaweed, anemones, fish such as sole, wrasse, pollack and bass, lobster, crabs, ormers and many more.”
Mr Watson said the launch of the trail would be accompanied by a schools’ programme which would start with a classroom lesson followed by a pool session to familiarise pupils with the equipment, and finish with a guided tour of the trail itself.
Pictured: The waters at Portelet can be crystal-clear on a sunny day.
This was being in organised in partnership with the dive centre at Boulay Bay.
He added: “We are also developing a ‘citizen science programme’ with the Sociéte Jersiaise’s Marine Biology Section, where users will be able to log any species that they have seen, hopefully in a way that is accessible for everyone to see.”
Jersey’s first no-take zone has been developed by the Government’s Marine Resources department and the Marine Biology Section of the Société Jersiaise.
The designation does not stop boats anchoring in the bay nor prevent people taking driftwood but it does stop any catching or taking away of live animals or plants, such as attached seaweed.
Pictured: Portelet bay will become Jersey‘s first no-take zone this year, if the States agree.
Hopeful that the States Assembly will support this, the Blue Marine Foundation has recently made a planning application to put up signs about the snorkel trail, which could be in place by the summer.
Mr Watson said that the signs would not only indicate the areas but also have a strong emphasis on sea safety, including detailing the international snorkellers’ code.
The plan is to have free standing signs on the pathway down to the café. There is also an application to have another free standing sign by the top of the path, leading down from the Portelet Inn to the beach.
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