No lumpsuckers.....yet!

What with things still flat on Sunday I simply had to get in for a grub about on the South Side of Beadnell Point, the last time I was in the vis was poor but today?

Well today wasn’t great but it was 3m or just over, which was sufficient for my needs.

The dive was about mid-way through a flooding tide so perhaps not the best time to go in, sure the wishy-washy had dropped off overnight but with some large tidal movements there was still a bit of smashed up sea-weed in the water column which obviously had an effect on the visibility, it’s due to be flat for another couple of days so anyone who can manage a cheeky mid-weeker may have some quite good dive conditions!

My needs today centred around seeing if I could find any male lumpsuckers which were guarding eggs, these fish and their nests are most usually found on the shelves and cracks which run the east, north and west faces of the mini-reefs, the kelp on which pokes its nose above the water at low tide. The walls around these reeflets are quite high on the north side, in some cases being up to four metres in height, whilst the sides taper from this down to nothing, whilst at the southerly end the wall disappears into the sea-bed, so basically the east and west sides are a triangular shape.

The hunt had been triggered by finding a dead female washed up on the beach, with my thoughts being that if they had arrived there would be nests and males there keeping the eggs silt free and oxygenated, so rather than another ‘what’s changed dip’ it was a bit more targeted, after all when they lay eggs in these areas they will not be in the ‘surf zone’ at low tide and especially on the North Side they are protected when we get the next batch of poor weather.

This time my hunt was unsuccessful, it would have been good to spot and mark a nest then return a few times with a camera to mark the process and if very lucky get some images of the eggs in a state of hatching, however all is not lost and I am sure that at some time in the next month or so I will be able to find a nest on a sheltered spot and then do some photographic dives to mark progress.

With all of this grubbing around on the fractured faces of the first reeflet I was surprised that I didn’t spot any lobsters or velvet swimming crabs tucked away waiting for things to warm up a little. I know that there must be shell-fish present as there are strings of pots in Knacker Hole and to both the North and the South side of Beadnell Point, or maybe they have read my write up when I did confirm that I had seen some of the blue fiends in Knacker Hole a couple of weeks ago. Going back to this site, there were a few fiends under the larger boulders just inshore of the reef so they are they, perhaps they haven’t yet taken up residence in the reeflets as they are shale based so quite frequently large amounts of the structure disappears if the swell is running the ‘wrong way’. It doesn’t help that the shale is ‘holy’, no not the ‘pope’ type rather there are holes all over caused by piddocks which are the boring bi-valves meaning that any inherent strength the shale has is greatly diminished due to the holes.

The large amount of shale and sandstone in the area is down to a huge prehistoric river delta covering much of the Northumbrian coastline, there are lots of fossilised tree trunks, last year a large fossilised millipede was found just down the coast at Howick, a well publicised find that made the national news.

Back to the diving and more modern history, having failed most miserably to find my tea I must say that whilst covering ground quite slowly there were a few weights and also more than a few dahlia anemones, which is odd because I honestly cant recall seeing quite this many large anemones, sure there were always a few about but today there were lots, maybe not as many as you can find at St Abbs but a significant amount. On checking up these animals are mobile to some degree and will move to a better position should their existing vantage point be disadvantaged for some reason, but from very few to ‘all over’ in the course of a year or two seems a little surprising, although one of their reported modes of transport is to detach from the rock, inflate and then simply go with the flow!

As you can guess from the above there wasn’t a huge amount of other visible life, certainly no fish with a couple of anglers who had packed up describing the fishing as ‘dire’, they still contributed with a couple of weights though! The small polycera nudibranchs were about in some numbers but nothing any larger or more interesting which although disappointing isn’t really a shock, with the sea temperature still dropping it will reach its coldest in the next month or so, that said it was bloody awful on the finger tips and I will butcher some of my old gloves to chop off the fingers and glue them onto my ‘normal gloves’.

So there you go, a nice dip although I didn’t find my primary target and got chilly finger tips but apart from that…………….

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 5.3 kg

Weight this year – 145.0 kg

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