Quite a pleasant surprise really!

The weather had been fine on Friday and then as forecast it was ghastly on Saturday......against my better judgement I decided to tag along with the Ancient Diver on Sunday and well....

It was very nice!

Sure there was a long deep swell of say one meter which would have made 'bashing' a RIB into it quite awkward but a bimble over to the Islands in Mhara Mor at around 10 knots was fine, oh and with the conditions a touch more settled there were a few more options!

However before I get started the nuts and bolts

The viz was good at around the 8m mark, at depth it was better and shallow it was a bit snotty but hey!

So comparing the viz here at the Islands and the yellow seas from the shore there was no comparison although before the dive I thought it may be iffy due to the amount of plankton in the water, the density of the plankton is such that I am told that a basking shark was spotted a few days ago near the dive site. These are not common visitors to our shores here on the East Coast or maybe more accurately they are not spotted so often, there tends to be one reported sighting a year or so.

The Ancient Diver had decided for an 8am start so being first on-site we had the choice of the sweep on Harcars/Blue Caps and decided to drop in at the far corner of the Blue Caps as there were odd seals in the water for the paying customers and it is probably the best part of the area for a dive. Being on tea and winch duty I was first ready and with the boat 'close enough' to the rock I simply gave the okay and leapt in!

Heading down the rock to the boulder slope there were huge numbers of coalfish/saithe and all tight against the rock face, obviously they were spooked and keeping out of clear water, I guess that with some seals about they felt 'uneasy'. One of my pet theories is that when there are huge amounts of seals the fish around the islands are safe as the seals tend to feed in the Farnes Deeps and return to the Islands to haul out, rest and digest their food. When there are less seals the fish are uneasy as I think that there are some seals which are resident and actively hunt around the Islands, with less seals they are the hunting variety hence the spooky fish, thoughts?

Once on the boulder slope I started heading down to reach the 'real' bottom, after my last performance I felt like I had to try and scrag the necessary to enable teh Ancient Diver to make a paella and whilst blue fiends were keeping a low profile I did get a bag of suitable stuff in relatively short order. Working along the bottom in about 26m of water it was noticeable that there were 'small' areas which were heavily covered in brittle stars, it wasn't the bottom black as far as you could see, rather a patch maybe seven or eight meters in size and then other smaller patches. I have seen huge swathes covered in deeper water around the Pinnacles and at St Abbs so maybe these star-fish were is the shallow part of their bio-sphere or alternatively they are in a die down cycle prior to the winter storms.

It is always the same when you haven't got a camera and today it was noticeable that lots of the hermit crabs were covered in anemones and other 'squidgies' that give the resident some sort of protection when something larger comes along and wants to eat it. I msu remember to take along my macro camera next time I am out at the islands to try for some suitable shots, hermit crabs are always good as if you move the camera close and just wait it only takes a minute or so before the come out of their shell to have a good look!

One thing I did spot but didn't click was a string of what appear to be 'ghost fishing pots' which were about twently meters beyond the bottom of the slope, it was only when talking with the Ancient Diver that it became obvious that there were no marker buoys and the rope between pots was looped high in the water column, damn I will need to get out and either send up a lift bag or slash them open.

I started heading back up the slope close to the pinnacle which stands just off the main rock formation and I usually can spot a lobbie or two in the large crack that runs up and over this feature but today there were only small wiggies present, even the larger holes didn't have any big residents.

The kelp here starts in about 12m of water and judging by the condition, there were stalks with a few fronds on the top, there had been some seriously bad weather from the South East, heading further up the slope the kelp was really shredded with areas of small stones really turned over..........oh well I am sure that it will all be re-inhabited double quick time!

Dive safe



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