On our natural history tours, discover that Jersey was not always an island. In fact, it was only about 7500 years ago that Jersey was connected to France by a low ridge of hills stretching towards the south-east before being cut off by rising sea levels after the end of the last ice age. Indeed, this was the last of about twenty occasions in the last three million years that sea levels have risen and fallen dramatically. It is very difficult to imagine the incedibly long periods of our geological past, let alone how the landscape may have looked at any given time.
For example, if we imagined that the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years old) was 24 hours, these are some of the relevant times:
- age of the oldest Jersey rocks (600 million years old) – about 3 hours 12 minutes ago
- The volcanic rocks of Jersey were being formed (about 585 million yeras ago) – 3 hours 7 minutes ago
- the period of ice ages affecting the World (the last 3 million years) – about the last 1 minute
- time that humans have been around (let’s say half a million years ago) – 10 seconds ago
- the time that Neanderthals were using the cave at La Cotte in Jersey (250 to 40 thousand yeras ago) – from 5 seconds ago to about one second ago.
On the tour, we will look at geological time and imagine where Jersey was (it was “moving” on its tectonic plate around the oceans) and what you would have “seen” at the relevant time.
In the more recent period of geological time, the changes in sea level have exposed and eroded Jersey’s rocks to create the landscape with which we are familiar. The flora and fauna here, both land and maritime, are in many cases rare elsewhere as a result of that past and the Island’s geographic position benefiting from the warmer air of the Gulf Stream.
We will visit and view areas of the Island which were until relatively recently land and which now are covered by the tides twice a day.
We will also visit some of the wilder areas of the Island to view the Island’s flora and fauna. Whilst the Island does not have a wild population of large land mammals, the waters surrounding the island are home to large pods of dolphins and some seals which can sometimes be spotted from the shore. Overhead, on water and on land, birds of all species take advantage of the diverse environments that the Island offers and offer great spotting opportunities for nature watchers.
Our natural history tour is part vehicle based and part walking so that guests get the benefit of seeing many parts of Jersey’s landscape in the relatively short period of the tour. It will suit those who enjoy the outdoors but who perhaps cannot manage long walks to reach the sites.