Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Discovery Channel; Travel: You Don't Have to Go to the Tropics to Get Close to the Wonders of the Deep. Andrew Healey Headed for the Warm Autumn Waters of Jersey

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Discovery Channel; Travel: You Don't Have to Go to the Tropics to Get Close to the Wonders of the Deep. Andrew Healey Headed for the Warm Autumn Waters of Jersey

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW HEALEY

EVER seen sea hare mating?

I have. Four of them, entwined in a waving white lump the size of your fist. Nature in the raw, it was. They were getting it on about a foot away from a waving green snakelocks anemone with purple tips, which was sheltering an inch-long scorpion spider crab. All this was going on about eight inches in front of my mask. I looked down for a moment and saw I was hovering inches above a foot-long pipefish, a sort of uncurled seahorse with snakelike markings, intent on its next meal of shrimp just out of striking range.

Post-watershed viewing, I can tell you.

I learned to dive in the Red Sea, like many a soft southern jessie, and although at the time I revelled in the primary colours and warm water, it spoilt me rotten when it came to trying our more, shall we say, temperate climes. Since then I've had no opportunity to dive anywhere where you can get away with a shortie wetsuit and factor umpteen sun-cream. In home waters, I have discovered, big clumpy suits, gloves and hoods are the order of the day.

But not in Jersey, at least not in late summer or autumn (when the water is at its warmest). Five millimetre neoprene is all you need. And there's so much to see. Not garish angelfish or bright pink coral, I grant you (dahlink, zey are so pretentious). But much more than brown weed and grey sand. You just have to look a bit harder, and appreciate the subtlety.

Before heading to Bouley Bay, on the rocky north coast of the island, I phoned my long-time buddy, local naturalist and filmmaker Sue Daly.

She told me that neap tides during the week of my stay would minimise the current (you want to avoid spring tides, which involve a whopping 40ft range - the biggest in Europe). She also told me the dive school had new owners who had upgraded the hire gear (I own only mask, snorkel and fins) in a bid to woo new customers.

I hadn't been under for a year so, before leaving home, I took a short scuba review session at my local dive centre, to get me back in the swing of things. As the trip grew nearer, the weather set fair. …

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