What a day for the 'scrap', or what a bloody toxic mess, you choose!

I can't say I've ever had a day like it as you shall find out.....

As always nuts and bolts first, I was at Howick and the vis was around 6m but with lots of animals.

Animals, so sea-gooseberries, small jellies like Lions Mane and that long stringy stuff that looks like short strings of toad-spawn maybe a dozen eggs long where the centre is red rather than black. I hesitate to say 'plankton' although I guess that the stuff I have mentioned is really zoo-plankton!

Nowhere near as good as Beadnell where I had a top of the tide splash from Dell Point but pretty good for the area as I have always found that as well as being a bloody long walk Howick is really silty, no obvious reason it just is.

Last year after an early nice dive the Gods of Wind cursed the site and dropped a shed load of sand over everything meaning that you had the tips of reeflets showing but not the entire reef with hidden holes and the like. This had the effect that for a few weeks when the lobsters walked in-shore they were 'baffled' as holes there were none.

However this year the sand is gone, and with a year underwater we are left with huge swathes of rock which is pretty devoid of plant-life but strewn with lost lead weights! I won't go into details suffice to say that when your thirty kilo lift bag is full of air with bubbles coming out of the bottom and the sack is still firmly anchored then you know you've bagged up, and this was on 50 bar! Tosheroons galore and a painful bloody walk back to the car, I always dive this site with a wheelbarrow to carry my kit but today, no today I was just having a sniff about so didn't take the 'barrow, bloody fool. It was seventy-five steps change hands.....seventy-five steps change hands, the veins on my neck were like fire-hoses.

Before talking sea-life, why the toxic comment?

Well lead is toxic and as a species we are refining tonnes of it and throwing thousands of tonnes into our shallow seas in typically 6oz lumps of fishing weights that are lost. I wonder what outcry there would be if it was announced that 500kg of lead would be dumped between Dell and Beadnell Points once a year....every year. 

Okay so it's not in drinking water supply but does or could it get in the food chain, no idea just a thought that went through my head a few days ago when I was sitting festering!

Just down the coast around the estuary of the River Tees there is an outcry because the old docks are being dredged to set up for the new freeport. The stuff they are dredging out is obviously being dumped three miles out to sea, cough-cough, and is just silt. Well it isn't I'd be willing to bet that its pretty contaminated from all of the old chemicals made at what was the ICI heartland, not to mention the chromium works at Unlay Nook that regularly turned the river 'lawn green' from Yarm to the sea.

I can't say I have dived the area for 40 years plus although that will change as I have a boat moored at South Gare, but some guys have been posting video footage showing no crabs, sure there are lobsters which tend to move to deeper water in the winter, but in the shallow seas, say up to 6m deep there are no crabs of any type, velvet swimmers, edibles, green shore, none at all and Redcar used to be absolutely stuffed with edible crabs.

If nothing else I would ask that you have an internet search on the subject and read-up, there are a few petitions and if any take your fancy add your monicker. I originally put the crab kills down to the winter storms but fear I may have been wrong.

We have no such problem here in Northumberland, with crabs present in large numbers along with urchins which had, in many cases, crawled to the top of kelp plants and were munching the weed top rather than the stem, cant say I've seen that before and it made for interesting sessions going through kelp as there was the chance of an urchin in the mush if you weren't careful. The conditions have been ok for a while up here as there were areas where dips in the sea-bed were full of urchin shit and this does tend to be washed away quite quickly when there is any surge.

I will say that I am surprised that there are still no signs of smaller coalfish or saithe on any of the dive sites, these small fish will usually follow divers around waiting to pounce should any morsels be disturbed and whilst I have seen plenty of there larger brothers and sisters I have yet to see any of the small fish. I know that there is adequate food in the form of sandals as the bait-balls are starting to form, I saw one at Beadnell Point last night and a couple at Howick today so there are fish forcing the sand-eels to the surface where the gulls, terns and gannets are having a go.

The conditions at the moment are strange, earlier today in the morning it was all 'going to forecast' with the seas building up but looking at things this evening the wind has changed from Northerly back to Westerly and the swell has simply gone. I think that we will get some bad weather over the next few days but just when it hits I really don't have any good feelings.

So in summary I would say check the North Sunderland Harbour webcams before travelling rather than Windguru or similar and as long as it stays flat the vis will stay phenomenal!

Dive Safe


Weight this dive - 49.1 kg

Weight this year - 363.6 kg

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