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Due to the interest of others I became interested in the historical storage of shellfish around the islands which probably started seriously with the oyster fishery boom in the 19th century, pictured above is a a nourrice or couge in which lobsters and crabs are stored, I have tried to find out the meaning and origin of the word couge without any succeess. Nourrice is derived from the Latin nūtrīcia, this and the French meaning is nurse, and we also get the word nourish from this.

To the north of the start of the slip at Grouet there are four remains of nourrices two of which have remains of iron rails these were taken from the obsolete railway track at Corbiere, when I first came across these I was fortunate to have an elderly low water fishermen come up and ask what I was photographing and it turned out he knew the history of there use, they were used by the local Le Chalet hotel to store a supply of fresh shellfish for their visitors.

Derelict nourrice with railway tracks

Derelict nourrice with railway tracks

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Derelict nourrice with railway tracks

There are some 30 of these nourrices around the island and so far they have been recorded at L’Etacq, Petit Plemont, Bonne Nuit, Rozel, St Catherine’s, Archirondel, Gorey, Grouville Bay, Le Hocq, Elizabeth Castle, and St Aubin, numbering around 30 in total.

From here you can make your way down to the low water mark along one of the old tracks that lead the way.

Vraic track

Vraic track

Although it is fairly easy to access the low water mark, once down there it is not that easy to make your way along the weed covered rocks and boulders, with Laminaria digitata and Codium tomentosum pictured below:

Laminaria digitata in the foreground

Laminaria digitata in the foreground

Velvet horn - Codium tomentosum

Velvet horn – Codium tomentosum

There are a number of species that can be found on and under the rocks in this area, including rocklings, squat lobsters, numerous Snakelocks anemones, someone did ask me why they had not seen any beadlet anemones I was not sure of the answer, perhaps they prefer higher more sheltered rock pools.

Sea lemon - Doris pseudoargus

Sea lemon – Doris pseudoargus

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Ormer – Haliotis tuberculata

There were only a couple of low water fishermen after ormers each day so it was disappointing to see stones upturned and not replaced as good practice,  studies in nearby France have shown that it takes 5 years for a basic growth of sponges to grow again, and a decade or more for some species to re-establish themselves, given that this is the very habitat the ormer relies on, it is a shame these sites are not afforded better protection.

Exposed stone left by low water fishermen, leaving sponges to eventually die.

Exposed stone left by low water fishermen, leaving sponges to eventually die.

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