Diary

The nunkie goes all mucky!

For ages I have been extolling the virtues of the UK and especially the Sound of Kerrera as a great muck diving site, arguably not as good as Lembeh, just different...... maybe as good in a different way?

So I gave the Nunkie some instructions and set him on his way, I couldn't doctor his fins to slow him down but I think that he did it 'right', for those who wish to follow his footsteps.......or should that be fin-strokes?

Head south from the end of the breakwater at Gallanach (Puffin Divers), slowly work in a south westerly direction down to about 8m depth and you will come to a section of rock protruding from the mucky bottom. Work along the bottom of this 'reef' for a few yards then head east, going up and over the reef, it comes to within 3m of the bottom and then very slowly work over the marly ground on the inside of the 'reef' before heading north back to the breakwater and exit. A nice simple plan for a nice simple man!

Again, my translation of his dive as follows.................................

The first stretch of this dive was over a bed of discarded scallop shells, in warmer weather divers will drop the shell and guts of scallops once they have cleaned them and for that reason at the 'right' time of year the area is carpeted with crabs, not so in November, however the plus point of a late dive here is that the weed has died back so that you are not faced with huge swathes of kelp covered bottom, you can now see the bottom and also creepy-crawlies that live here.

It is only when you get to the rocky section that you can appreciate the amount of long-clawed squat lobsters that live in this area and the gap under every stone is inhabited with a squattie, you will also find poor buggers with one or no claws who have been involved in a scrap over occupancy rights and lost. Occasionally you will come across these squabbles with two similar size squatties locking claws and there is always a winner and a loser.

Moving slowly you will also find loads of painted gobies dotting about on the sand, varying in size from an inch to maybe three inches. In the summer should you wish to be 'amused' you can disturb a goby and if it flits up into the water column watch as the coalfish and codling that attend a diver zoom after the tasty morsel, almost like bashing open sea-urchins for wrasse around the islands, only more so.

On this rocky area you will also see various multi-coloured sea-squirts whose colour and position make for some good clear-water photo-opportunities if you can contort yourself down to the rock, there are also large amounts of brittle stars, although during the daytime you are more likley to see 'arms' reaching from cracks in the rock for any passing food rather then the actual animal.

Over the top of the reef you reach an area which is obviously offered more protection than that given by Kerrera and comprises of a nice bottom, some mud covered by an inch or so of finely crushed shell and marl, ideal scallop land and there are a few about but with the area being regularly dived the only ones remaining are small at maybe three inches diameter they are however easy to spot once you get your eye in with a tell-tale puff of silt when the shut up upon sensing your approach.

Hunting scallops you will also come across at least two varieties of starfish with the huge, almost prehistoric, shocking in its size and the relative speed at which it can cover the ground.

There are other shell-fish present and you will find a few live whelks moving over the sand and again their white and mottled mantle offers good photo opportunities, as an aside readers may remember 'Buck' an old school diver who when made redundant from the colliery spent his redundancy on a second hand RIB and made an existance diving for lobsters. On the annual Oban trip with Bishop Auckland club he would pick up whelks and to save gas would put them in his kettle and they would cook when he made tea, you never wanted to take a hot drink at Bucks tent!

You will also find 'odd-balls' in this area, the Nunkie found a sea-mouse and there are always nudibranchs for those that take the time, I know that nudi-hunting is an acquired taste but if you are up for it there are always half a dozen species that you can find around this area and onto the rocks.

Slowly heading back you will start finding bottles thrown in form the land behind Puffin Divers and although the area is picked over occasionally you can pick up something 'nice' so keep looking and remember that quite a few of the jars have a resident squattie, so again photo opportunities!

You will know that you are getting close to the breakwater as there are more and more thick chains rusting into the bottom and the amount of scallop shells pick up. The nunkie only had the boat from Puffin Divers to contend with and in flat calm conditions and six meters vis there was little chance of an incident, however if you feel nervous with engines above then throw up a delay to make an explicit statement.

The nunkie enjoyed his dive looking at the smaller creatures, now I'm not sure if a similar dip on the North side of Little Harcar in about fifteen meters will elicit a similar response, I suspect he would scurry off the to the corner to hunt for blue fiends.....

Dive safe

RichW

 

 

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