Natural England pre-dive part two!

With the first dive done it was where next? Knivestone and the Gun Rock seemed to be the answer......both very nice dives so no problems with either of those!

It was a bit odd but for the first dive on the Northern Side of Knivestone was going to be diving again so after a warming cuppa and surface interval in the grotty weather it was time to go in again. We went in close to the rocks with instructions from the Ancient Diver to get in, get down and head North West, that way we would be out of the worst of the current and see some rust as well as weeds and creepy crawlies.

I will nail in the photos before the rest of the words so that you can scroll through and have a look!

Farne Islands - North Knivestone (2019)

This dip wasn't as good as expected, no real head of fiends, no crabs at all but the vis was nice and it was 'pretty', lots of Dead-mans Fingers but it simply isn't as good as the 'dive' where you go through the gap and dive the slope between Knivestone and Longstone.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, the dive was nice there were plenty of Saithe bimbling about a nice nudibranch that appeared to have 'blue' tips to its protrubences, they turned out 'brilliant white' on review and of course Lucy picked up another bag of weeds.

You don't really think about the impact of Sea Urchins but this is a site with loads of urchins and very little apart from Dead Mans fingers on 'deeper' rocks and kelp near the surface with very little else, so yes it must be urchins that have grazed the other weeds away. Certainly the Ballan Wrasse know all about the relationship between divers and urchins, that being divers will smash open urchins for wrasse for photo opportunities and also 'cos they can!

Having bimbled and looked at the wreckage but no luck with non-ferrous, again the site has been picked clean over the years and whilst every now and again something crops up it's not the norm, we decided to end the dip.

It's always fun on these dives that in doing a safety stop you do go through the 'washing machine' and today was no different, one moment thrown up to two meters and the next being pushed down to eight meters, great sport! Once out it was a brief interval and off to Gun Rock.

The dive at Gun Rock is always fun and this one was better as we were not being dropped off on the plateau where the guns are located, rather halfway down the rock where there are....scallops! Oh by the way we had found out by this time that whilst some of Lucys friends are huggers she was fine with sea-food, so with a parting shout from the Ancient Diver of 'Paella' in we went!

As Lucy wanted to look at the 'bottom' rather than wall we spent very little time on the wall or boulder slope which were both smothered in Dead Mans Fingers and other filter feeders and headed out into Staple Sound where within five yards I started picking up scallops and a few of the smaller 'clitty clams'.

The bottom as you head out into the Sound is very interesting, it comprises, mainly, of fist sized cobbles with odd larger stones which are solid in the bottom, if you look at the rocks closer to the wall you will find quite a few areas which are covered in 'river stones' which formed the ballast in wooden ships which have been lost on this rock over the years. Back to the dip, part of this bottom is a very mobile coarse sand which forms drifts by the larger stones and after particularly bad storms will move about the sound covering areas of previously open bottom.

The vis here today was spectacularly good and although we didn't see the 'predators' there were quite a few small bait-balls of tiny sandeels. These balls were the size of beach-balls or slightly larger maybe one meter diameter and even though there were no fish about there were velver swimming crabs on the sea-bed with both pincers holding sandeels. We need to remember that these tiny fish are the bedrock of the eco-system up and around the Islands and no sandeels means no birds as there would be no small fish for the chicks, a couple of years ago there was an issue and the sandeels didn't appear in quantity meaning lots and lots of chicks didn't fledge.

Lucy again spent time picking up weeds and after about half an hour, having gone out into the Sound and then back to the Rock it was getting a bit cold so we decided to call it a day. And it was quite a nice day, sure the poor weather meant that the breaks between dives was grotty but being so few in number we all huddled into the cabin drinking tea until we went in again (and again).

The team from Natural England have now identified three sites which look promising and as well as Kettle there are options for each day that they are up at the end of July, just need to make sure that they......

Dive safe

RichW and the Nunkie




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