A mixed bag on the Islands

The only draw back of being an 'interloper' is that the paying divers choose the sites, or rather their preferences of seals or scrap direct where we go...

And their desire for pinniped action meant that the first dive of the day was Little Harcar and then on to the Inside edge of Longstone, the visibilities were very different!

Little Harcar was around 6m with lots of snot and snow

Longstone was maybe 10m with much less rubbish in the water 

Due to the state of the tides the first dip was at Little Harcar and I really wont hammer on about this site, it's good when you can get away from the rocks and into deeper water but unfortunately today the tide was strongly running up, past the Blue Caps to the North meaning that you were pretty much restricted to the small bay, now this bay is normally home to seals and not subject to the full force of the tide.

In the past I have dived this bay quite heavily looking to get Seal Photos and been on the receiving end of horrendous ear infections, you can imagine, green gunk running out of my ear then both ears, horrible and one of the reasons why I will always steer clear of these bloody animals!

So having checked and found that there was a terrible current and then mooched about on the edge of said current I decided to launch my delay and get out rather than risk more infections, probably the most interesting part of the dive was just after I launched when I was looking and noticed an awful lot of scrap steel on the bottom, it was all pretty much concreted in to the bottom and there were large areas of bedrock on show, so not much chance of hidden goodies, unless of course there are bits under the steel.....

The next site is one of my current favourites, it tends to have good vis and whilst there is no scrap unless you go deep to the wreck of Chris Christiansen and to be honest I don't feel the need to belt down to around 30m to dive a wreck that has been pretty much picked clean over the years.

The issue with this site, or should I say on a personal level I can't be bothered with the seals as there are always a few about and they are the nosiest sods in the world, especially when you are jammed in a crevice wrestling with a blue fiend!

The site here is absolutely smothered with Dead Mans Fingers which makes it very pretty but also very hard to spot all of the fiends as there are lots and lots of cracks and crevices where all you see is a set of red/blue antennae and if you are not careful you just swim past them, but not an experienced whisperer like me!

The rock that forms Longstone is doleritic limestone and it has huge cracks, some of which run right through to the Brada whilst others only 'go back' ten yards or so, the bottom of these tends to be fifteen meters or less and they do shallow as they go into the Island. Unlike the gullies on the Hopper which also run from the outside of Longstone into the Brada these are very light and it finally struck me why!

The bottom of these gullies are covered in dead shells, almost exclusively limpets and dog-whelks so shells which are white and very light yellow/white, this means lots of reflected light and very little dead weed on the bottom, or evidence that dead weed accumulates here. Basically if dead weed lay here and rotted the shells would be stained grey to black and they were glistening! I am guessing that the tide, which really does rip past this site, draws weed and sand out of the cracks under the well known phenomena of venturi, the tide at the Hopper is nowhere near as severe which probably means that weed builds up, it would also explain why the Dead Mans Fingers grow right into the cracks, almost as far as you can go in most cases.

Back to the main reason for the dive, paella, oops I mean scragging a fiend! It is only when you are activly extracting lobsters that you realise just how many are females and also just how many are berried, I would guess that 80% of the lobsters extracted were berried, blue fiends are not monogamus so I suppose that a single cock lobster can mate with large amounts of females, certainly cock crawfish keep a 'harem' of females with some having a dozen or so, which in the day meant that once you found a large dominant cock craw you could 'fill yer boots'.

Being blunt we are approaching the back end of the season so I was a little surprised to surface through a huge shoal of baitfish, that;s to say a mix of brit and sandeels, when the Ancient Diver came to pick me up in the boat he said that the sounder showed that the fish were top to bottom and when we say top I mean breaking surface, which is strange as there were not any piscine predators on the scene. Thinking about it this huge amount of baitfish would explain why there is and has been a large amount of gannets in the area and most are actively hunting, slowly meandering along before folding back their wings and zoom - boosh into the water. We normally have the occasional gannet or see a flight of them heading north but this year there have been lots of odd 'uns, both mature and juvenille and all hunting.

With these extra baitfish about maybe the season will last a little longer this year, so fingers crossed and..... 

Dive safe


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