THE ISLAND OF HERM
Auction Particulars and Contract of Sale, Tuesday 29th July 1884


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“This bird deposits its eggs on the ground, in a rabbit burrow, or under large stones when it can find sufficient space to creep under. On the beach at Burbou it sometimes removes the loose stones, to the depth of one or two feet or more, managing to reach the soil before laying the egg.”

“The extraordinary variety of the fish that occasionally visit the Channel Islands is readily accounted for by the position of these islands and the adjacent land. Warm sea fishes come in from the Atlantic, and occasionally meet Arctic species coming down through the German Ocean. Fishes, generally found only in deeper water, are brought within observation on rising into these shallower seas ; while the mixture of large areas of rocky bottom with occasional sands, the enormous abundance of sea-weed, and the great range of the tide, are causes eminently favourable for bringing fish within human range.”

“The lançon, or sand-eel, is a delicate little morsel, and is obtained from the sands in some of the bays of Jersey, Guernsey; and Herm on moonlight nights in autumn. At such times the sands are almost alive with them, and they may be caught by the hand, after turning up the sand with a fork. Sand-eeling at midnight in September is one of the amusements of all classes.”

“The sea-bream and the ling are taken and used as food, but are little valued.”

“Of rarer fish the bonito and the tunny are seen in the market from time to time, and even the salmon is an occasional visitor.”

“The rocky shores of the Channel Islands afford innumerable convenient hiding places for crustaceans, and these animals consequently abound in number, and are varied in species. The large shore crab attains large size, and is a very profitable animal to the shore fishermen, the supply to the market being regular, and the consumption large. Very fine individuals are often obtained. The spider crab, and swimming or velvet crab, are also eaten, and are abundant at certain seasons. The smaller crabs, although they are plentiful, arc not seen in the market, but may be found in every part of the coast round all the islands. It is not unlikely that many of the species now neglected would be available for human food.”

“The lobster affords a large and important export Trade, chiefly with Southampton. Vast numbers are obtained weekly from the coast of Guernsey, but comparatively few are consumed in the island. The spiny lobster, locally called cray-fish, is also very common, but not so much valued as the lobster.”

“Of the smaller kinds, prawns and shrimps are found in most of the sandy bays.”

“No one can visit the rocky bays, and look into the innumerable pools of water left at half tide on every part of the shores of the Channel Islands, without seeing evidence of their unbounded wealth in zoophytes.”

“The lobster affords a large and important export trade, chiefly with Southampton. Vast numbers are obtained weekly from the coast of Guernsey, but comparatively few are consumed in the island. The spiny lobster, locally called cray-fish, is also very common, but not so much valued as the lobster.”

“Besides his own estate or domain, in the shape of terra firm a, every islander has a common right of great value, lying on the shores of the barren sea, and belonging to the sea itself. It is true, that neither ox nor horse can browse on it, and yet it supplies provender for ox and: horse as truly as if it were a field of clover or oats. This valuable and ever present resource is the vraic or sea-weed, and the gathering grounds of the vraic represent the common lands, possessing the additional advantage that they can never be exhausted.”

“It is computed that about 30,000 loads of vraic of all kinds are obtained from Guernsey and Herm, and probably more than that quantity from Jersey.”

“Sark is neither largely peopled, nor is it so well or abundantly supplied with sea-weed as either Guernsey or Jersey. The weed used is chiefly brought from Herm, and after being landed on the shore, has to be lifted to the top of the table land with much difficulty.”

“Herm has always been remarkable for the quantity of weed it is enabled to supply, not only for its own cultivation, but for the use of the other islands. Its soil also is rich, and the limestone of its shelly sands contains a certain quantity of organic as well as calcareous matter, the decomposition of which cannot fail to be serviceable.”

“On an average, about one acre in five of the larger islands, and nearly as much in Alderney and Sark, is manured each year with the vraic, or raw sea-weed, or with ashes obtained from burning the vraic, to the extent of ten loads of raw weed to the English acre. The load of fresh vraic is computed to give three bushels of ashes. The results of this treatment in the best times of potato culture were very remarkable, upwards of twenty tons to the acre having been obtained as an average result.”

 
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