Long may it continue!

After the last lot of bad weather things are starting to settle down a bit and about time too, it's been a very......limited?.....year for diving this year, although the boats are out at last!

Firstly vis.......well I went in on the evening of Friday 10th and it was a gloomy 4m, it could have been better but with the weather comprising of cloud bursts and odd patches of blue it was pretty much as I had expected. Over the weekend I went in with Graham, a local chap who hadn't done many dives around Beadnell and the vis was better on Saturday 'tea-time' at around 6m, while by Sunday morning it was a checked 7m, but with caveats! So the caveats are that the surge is still there, dropping but still there so until the dirt can drop 'through' the kelp it will continue to be stirred up limiting things, the second caveat is that there was an awful lot of freshwater went in late last week so I wouldn't be surprised if we had a bit of bloom to blow the vis for a few days. Apart from that the forecast is great for the foreseeable future so I would hope by the weekend, fingers crossed, to be around the double figure mark....again!

It's going to be a bit of a miss-mash, so apologies for that, with that in mind fish-life, yup it has exploded and there are some 'odd-balls', on one dive I was looking at some mid-water 'round-fish' thinking that they didn't look very much like the usual saithe and pollack but the fish were too skitters to get a good look, then chatting to a couple of keen lure anglers they had been catching small bass around the 14 inch mark, so I was right! These fish aren't 'really' common but anglers do catch odd-ones from the long sandy beaches, which to be blunt are never dived, the ones that I have spotted and the guys caught were at the end of Beadnell Point so similar conditions to surf beaches insofar as plenty of baitfish and a natural feature causing these smaller fish to get disorientated and easier to catch. There are also large numbers of similar size saithe and pollack mooching about, usually midwater between the bottom and surface, whether that bottom is real or 'false' in the form of kelp tops, with this quantity of fish about there must be loads of sandals but being honest I haven't seen a huge amount of bait balls out to sea where the predators are attacking at all angles with fish/dolphins from below and birds from above, I will try and get out this weekend in one of the boats for a dip and recce.

Continuing on fish, during the Knacker Hole dip I spotted three large fatties, a plaice, a dab and a topknot, of these three I managed to pick up the plaice and topcoat with no big faf around and show to Graham before allowing them to swim off, I had my thoughts about bagging the plaice as it was probably around the pound and a half mark and the BBQ was going on, but no best be an eco-warrior!

We had a good swim right around the 'reeflets' on the South Side of the Point and as usual they were smothered in life, although the nooks and crannies were occupied with crabs rather than blue fiends. Most of these reefiest are an obround shape with a bit of a face on the inside or shore facing side and a very steep slope on the seaward side. They tend to be made of doleritic limestone sitting on shale, this means that you get some big overhangs, up to 3m of limestone jutting out where the much softer shale has been eroded away, the shale is also very 'shelfy' having loads of cuts and cracks inhabited by crustaceans, leopard gobies, squat lobsters and the like. Being soft it is also well coated in plant life with burrowing sponges and odd shaped 'boring shellfish' present in large quantity, so anyone wondering where the round holes in shale comes from? Well it is from an odd shaped 'cockle' size/type animal which has a screwed shell, the inside edge being very sharp and abrasive to allow it to dig into the shale as it gets bigger, don't say that I never learn you nuffin!

As I was diving in company I refrained from dropping into kelp beds and 'grubbing about' but still managed to get a few weights to add to the haul, I also pulled out a few monofilament lines where the angler had lost yards of fishing line, in general it is really easy to spot this lost line and avoid it but maybe people who don't dive as often would miss it, get tangled and stress. The good news is that storms do tend to ball this lost line up then throw it onto the beach for disposal but at the end of any long 'vacation' period there are some areas which are festooned with line.

Most dive sites are now heavily potted and the fishermen have brought the 'deep water' pots inshore to cash in on the movement of shellfish. Now I always say to steer clear of pots, however if during your dive you happen across the deep water pots it is always interesting to see what is living on them, there was one in Knacker Hole that was festooned with Peacock Fan worms as well as the usual dead mans fingers, these strings of pots which are usually kept in deep water are in highly tidal zones so you will get to see filter feeding animals on the pots when they are in shallow water and maybe in the case of the peacock worms a chance of some good photos with natural lighting. But please leave the content of the pots alone, there are enough idiots in boats without adding to their number!!!

On the sites around Beadnell we are in full 'sea-hare' mode and if it dried out you would struggle to walk about without squishing some of these large nudibranchs, there are another three or four species that you can be confident of finding should micro work be your thing, the surge is reducing so if you want some nudibranch photos to add to your portfolio then it's a good time to visit in the next week or so.

There you go a nice weekend diving, well nice'ish' as I have a leak on my right arm meaning that my dry-glove system isn't even damp, it's wet. The trouble is with social distancing I really need to use my front entry suit so that I can zip myself up, the back entry suit is good and dry but I need help getting it zipped up, oh well I might just have to bite the bullet and start accosting strangers again........

So if you see a hirsute old man in a black rubber suit asking for a favour please be kind and......

Dive safe


Weight this weekend - 4.8 kg

Weight this year - 216.3 kg

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