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2007 - Alderney Ramsar

Date of Issue: 8th March 2007.

On 25 August 2005, the United Nations officially recognised Alderney's west coast and the Burhou Islands as wetlands of worldwide importance. It became the first designated Ramsar site in the Bailiwick. The site - entitled Alderney West Coast and the Burhou Islands - extends to 1,500 hectares (some 600n hectares more than mainland Alderney) and includes the waters from the island` west coast out to the northern gannet colony Ortac, the Burhous and the islets and reefs that surround it, as well as Les Etacs. Hosting a diverse range of birdlife, including the only European Storm Petrel colony in the Channel Islands, Alderney is a year-round attraction to birdwatchers and well known throughout the world. The island` unique tidal streams - which can reach speeds of up to 6 knots during spring tides - encourage a vibrant marine environment making it an essential destination for natural history and wildlife enthusiasts.

Cushion starfish

Asterina gibbosa and other rockpool creatures. The Cushion starfish is a thick-bodied species with short legs. Ranging in colour from brown to orange and red to yellow, its hard shell is covered in knobby spines. The snakelocks anemone has long flowing tentacles, is bright green in colour and sometimes has purple tips to the tentacles.

Gannets nesting at Les Etacs

The gannet was first discovered nesting on Ortac, just off the island's coast, in 1940. An ariel survey taken by the Alderney Ornithological Group in July 2005 showed almost 7,500 nesting pairs. The Ortac and Les Etacs colonies now account for 2% of the world's nesting gannets.

Squat lobster

Not really a lobster at all - and more closely related to the porcelain and hermit crab - the body of the squat lobster is usually flattened, the abdomen typically flattened under itself and the front legs elongated and armed with long claws. It is often called langostino in seafood dishes.

Grey seal

Half of the world` population of grey seals is found around British coasts. Choosing exposed rocky shores on which to breed, Alderney` rugged coastline makes the ideal environment in which to mate and feed.

Golden samphire

Growing in clusters, the golden samphire is a tufted perennial growing in salt marshes, shingle and on coastal cliffs. Widespread around Britain and Ireland. Abundant in Alderney, it makes a dramatic halo around the ruins of Fort Clonque on the south-west tip of the island.

Little egret and oystercatchers

The little egret makes its at home on south coast sites - including Alderney - both as a breeding species and as a winter visitor. It is included on the Amber List as rare breeding species. The oystercatcher feeds mainly on cockles and mussels and breeds on shingle beaches, dunes and small grassy-topped islands

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