Looking a bit battered in Knacker Hole

I know that I have shore dived ‘later’ in the season than this but I must say I can’t remember the plant life ever looking so ‘battered’

, it’s a result of those bloody storms which we had in September when the shore diving was non-existent! But driving to the site looking at conditions from the car it looked ‘super’ you could see the kelp beds just under the surface and it was clear in the shallows, my concern was that the sea out where I would be diving had that azure tint which for me indicates a milky suspension in the water and so it was…..

The sea conditions, well there was a big ground-swell, it wasn’t obvious when looking at the wave patterns but when you got in it was horrible so the vis will rapidly deteriorate although for my dive it was around the 4m mark, which isn’t too be sniffed at for the time of year. Diving from LWS on an up-tide I had hoped that the fresher water would help the vis but the new water was marginally worse than the stuff left on the site which was a little disappointing!

As I already commented the kelp tops are absolutely shredded with the weed that lives on the rock surface missing and white, dead anchoring roots all that's left, having been taken off by the storm, the good news when diving in Knacker Hole is that we currently don’t have huge areas of sea-bed covered in weed and gently festering away, sending up bubbles of gas and tasting bloody awful even through your regulator, in-fact the site has been scoured out a little and for that reason I managed to spot n lift another weight belt, that’s three for the year so not too bad. If any readers have lost a weight belt at this site and can tell me the belt details you are welcome, but this isn’t something lost in the recent past, looking at the belt and growth and creatures on the buckle it’s probably been down there a decade or so!

As a change I headed North from my usual entry point at the Black-top rocks and headed back grubbing about on the Northerly skeer, the loss of sand meant that it was quite interesting and a happy hunting ground, not just for the weight-belt already mentioned, I also managed to pick up a few weights too! But it was the huge amount of life that was the most pleasant surprise.

There was a string of lobster pots in the site and no surprise why, there seemed to be a blue fiend under every stone and in every crevice, I passed over one pot heading out and it was full of lobsters, so a bit of a late season inshore bonus for the potting boys. I have started diving with a torch, it’s the eyes and an age thing, and shining into nooks and crannies it was good to see the usual commensal relationships, a blue fiend…..a squat lobster or two….some leopard gobies. I know that people will always rave about the relationship between shrimp and blennies in warmer waters but we have the same situation here around the UK shores, all that you need to do is slow down, shine a torch and look, I am sure that there are other relationships but that one is the most obvious for our waters.

I have long thought about a saltwater aquarium, a wiggie lobster, some squat lobsters and today I saw quite a few ‘tiny’ ballan wrasse, all about three centimetres long but starting to fill out and be more shaped like a wrasse rather than a skinny nondescript fish fry, of course it will never happen, one reason being my fear of the inshore fishery chaps nabbing me and charging with taking a tiny lobster, I mean it would be obvious that its for an aquarium but it’s not an excuse that ‘washes’ although when you try and say you are taking eight, marginally undersized animals then it does appear to be taking the pi$$. As well as lobsters there were odd small edible crabs and loads of velvet swimmers, some paired up for breeding but most claws up ‘come on have a go if you think you’re hard enough’

Heading to the North side of the site you do pass over a little reef-let, maybe two feet high maximum before you get to the interesting area, I say interesting, it is just out of the kelp zone, so I guess around five meters deep and the reef-let holds up an area of rocks and boulders that is home to all manner of critters and creatures, I again spotted a small grouping of John Dory, three fish all about hand-size. I think that these fish must be resident on the coastline but spotting them on summer dives when kelp is growing furiously is tough, I have seen a group of smaller fish on this site last year, maybe the same group, but again it was early season when the weed hadn’t taken off. They really are masters of disguise like cuttlefish, go onto our surf beaches in early spring and you will find quite a few cuttle bones, I agree nowhere near as many as you find at Babbacombe and the like, but you can fill a carrier bag on a walk from Beadnell Harbour to the Long Nanny beck. So with all these cuttles how many have I seen in the water……..none, none in forty years of diving, well I tell a lie I saw a small cuttle/octopus/squid once in the sandy area where boats land at Longstone Island but that’s’ it, oh and I have caught a squid whilst mackerel fishing and yup it was caught fairly and then cooked tempura style, tasty!

When you get into shallower water it really becomes apparent how much the storms have shifted stuff about and I have to occasionally check the compass rather than rely on looking at the bottom, a few years ago I found a lovely little clay pipe that was made in Berwick upon Tweed in the gravel just adjacent to the spot where you go through the reef and onto the beach, but I think things have been so clashed about there will be no chance of finding anything as pleasant again2, why was the pipe there? Well years ago this area was used as safe harbour for some boats so I guess that a grizzled old fisherman was leaning over the side and it dropped out of his mouth! Certainly if you look at photographs of the old fishermen most had a pipe and most also were smoking them ‘upside down’, an easy job, hard press down of the tobacco, light and invert…..it stops the wet ruining your bit smoke!

I think that we really are approaching the end of reliable shore diving, the forecast is saying three to four feet of waves coming and that will probably stop the activity, sure there will still be opportunity for boat diving and with Calypso still in North Sunderland Harbour for a week or two I feel like a dip on the wreckage of Snowdonia and wreck of Emily Reaich may be in order before the end of the year, so fingers crossed and get out there……………..and make sure that you…………..

UPDATE - Checked the scrap weights, now you know why I carry a huge lift bag in my pocket!

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 68.1 kg

Weight this year – 1204.5 kg

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