The Somme bay

Baie de Somme (Bay of the Somme or Somme Bay) is a large estuary in the Picardie rĂ©gion . The bay drains six rivers into the English Channel, principally the River Somme, and covers a total area of 72 km2. The bay is noted for its ornithological richness, as well as being a major tourist attraction.

When the tide is out, the Baie is characterized by wide, flat areas of marsh and sand, from which the delicacy of glasswort (locally:salicornes) are collected. Small ponds, dug into the marshes and filled with fake plastic ducks, are used to attract migratory birds for hunting. As the tide rises the bay fills, during which time numerous working, leisure and tourist boats cross between the surrounding villages.

The Bay of Somme is the habitat of multiple fauna and flora species, the most famous being probably the Grey seal and the Harbor seal, locally referred as “phoque veau-marin”. Its population can be estimated at around 650 to 700 individuals living in the bay, whereas the Grey seal has a smaller population of around 350 individuals.

The Site represents the largest natural estuary in northern France composed of vast sand, mudflats, and grassy areas. The exceptional character of the Site is reflected by its avifauna diversity with 365 bird species identified. Located at the confluence of migratory routes, the Site is one of the most important European resting and feeding areas for migrating waterbirds. It also provides a refuge during cold weather events, especially for waders and ducks. During the wintering period, the Site sustains over 1% of the individuals of the biogeographic population of the Northern pintail, Northern shoveller and common shelduck. The Site also supports 275 species of plants, including various rare species such as the fen orchid Liparis loeselii. Human activities include cattle grazing, hunting, commercial fishing, shellfish farming, and tourism. The “Maison Ramsar de la baie de Somme” is one of two study centres at the Site. The main threats to the ecological character of the Site relate to drainage, hunting, invasive species, pollution, and recreational and tourism activities. Silting up of the estuary is accelerating and will alter the food web in the estuary which will in turn become less suitable for migrating and wintering waders. All protected areas on the Site have a management plan and a site-specific management plan.