Archive for August, 2008

Three varied easy access dive sites.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

After a weekend of heavy swell pounding into the rocky gullies on the east coast which prevented any thoughts of diving, and this was July, Monday dawned bright and sunny , the swell was replaced by an almost smooth sea with in excess of 10 metres underwater visibility.
Nestends gully at Eyemouth must have the easiest access to the water of any dive from the shore anywhere in the UK. From the point of entry you immediately drop into a few metres of water amonst quite a dense healthy kelp forest with all the usual kelp forest inhabitants.
As the gully continues downward and the forest is left behind the floor is made up of large boulders, stones and sandy patches, again all supporting an abundance of marine life. The walls of the gully rising almost vertically towards the surface are covered with anemones and soft corals. Sea slugs, squat lobsters and crabs lurk in the many cracks and crevices and snake pipe fish and scorpion fish are usually quite common sights towards the mouth of the gully.
Across to west coast to Lochaline on the Sound of Mull. Another easy access walk in dive from the shore. A short swim down over the white sand with its numerous tube anemones and the occassional kelp covered rocky outcrops brings you to the top of the Lochaline wall. This is an almost vertical rock face with cracks, crevices and ledges, which plummets down to more than 100 metres deep.
There is a great diversity of marine life living on the wall, seaweeds, sponges, anemones and worms etc. Over the past three years members of the Group have recorded more than 100 different species of plants and animals. On this dive to a depth of 30 metres there seemed to be an abundance of fish including, leopard spotted gobies, corkwing wrasse, scorpion fish and dozens of juvenille cockoo wrasse.
Our list of recordings consists of the common and the more obvious plants and animals, a concentrated effort looking at sponges, hydroids and sea weeds etc. would at least double the numbers on our present list, and what about the life at the bottom of the wall?, that could be very interesting!
About 20 miles east brings us to Loch Creran, a favourite dive location with our Group for many years. There are a number of very good varied dive sites with easy access from the shore around the loch, but when the tides times are right Creagan Bridge Narrows is, I think, the outright favourite. Vey different to the dive at Lochaline wall, the narrows is only about 6 metres deep at low water, start the dive just before the end of the ebb, drift through the channel, as the tide turns at the end of the period of slack water you then drift slowly back to the point of entry. This is a very crisp and vibrant site where you can find many plants and animals that are associated with high energy locations.
These are three very easy access sites, suitable for novice diver and upwards, each with their own very special characteristics, there is always lots to see, in fact you often see something new every visit, so its always nice to return.

Coral and Sailfish

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

From NOAA and National Geographic this week- two fantastic sets of photos. The first is NOAA’s gallery of coral photos. There’s a lot of images here and the galleries are not that easy to navigate around but there are some beautiful pictures, including possibly my favourite: the orange fireworm. The second is from National Geographic, of Sailfish rounding up a school of sardines in the Gulf of Mexico. You can watch the poor sardines being picked off one at a time until none are left, but the sailfish are impressive looking predators too.