Has Spring finally Sprung?

After a bloody awful month the stars were finally aligned for a second 'first of the year dives' in Knacker Hole at Beadnell!

Why the second first dive? Well because sea conditions have been winter like with some damn big swell running East <-> West which will have no doubt shifted things about, so lets start as always with conditions!

The vis was about 5m directly out from the Black Top rocks but reduced to around 3m closer inshore where there was a bit of snot in the water, and whilst I don't have a temperature logging dive computer I managed over an hour in a membrane suit and summer thermals.

As you can probably guess from the figures there were lots of anglers weights that had been uncovered including a painted nut and bolt combination used by some enterprising angler, but no bloody residual value for the poor diver, I hope whoever thought it was a good idea has been caught at work and given a bollocking for using company goods and paint-shop!


My usual routine on this site is to dive from low tide on the flood, walking to Black Top rocks which maximises my time at the interesting area of the dive, and today was no different. You should try this type of shore dive at this site, the walk isn't so bad and it makes everything so much easier, no need for anything other than remembering to head west, no clever gas consumption calculations working out when to retrace your steps. For the ageing diver a great and brain free dip!

I will touch first on topography, I had worried that the last lot of storms may have dumped a load of sand on the site, which had been somewhat scoured out over the winter, but despite my worries which were fuelled by large amounts of sand deposited both at Beadnell Bay and the stretch of coast between Beadnell and Seahouses the site was fine. Indeed even more light stuff had been scoured out, hence the amount picked up.

Going down to the entry point I thought that I might manage a lobster so was suitably 'tooled up', and whilst I didn't spot any lobsters worthy of my attention there were quite a few about, sure there were quite a few small ones, or 'wiggies' as they colloquially known and even a few that were just legal but I didn't spot any larger cock lobsters which are my preferred animals as they have larger meat filled nippers.

It was also noticeable that there were a few velvet swimming crabs dotted about and a group of a dozen or so getting stuck into a dead female lumpsucker, you can tell the females as they are all a rather plain grey colour, in stark contrast to the colourfully adorned males. I reckon that this lumpsucker had been bitten by a seal as there was a large chunk bitten out of it. The crabs, however, weren't overly concerned about having someones leftovers and were getting stuck into their free feed.

Earlier today I had been chatting to an angler who had been fishing, without luck, at the end of Beadnell Point and we had both agreed that Spring was late this year, but once in the water I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of fishlife. There were a few coalfish about in the deeper water, not big ones but the smaller, shoaling size that really like divers and follow them about hoping that the diver stirs up some small edible 'things'. There were also a few cod that I saw darting under rocks and some very inquisitive balloon wrasse, which were a fair size and had no issues with me bumbling past. Hopefully their relaxed nature doesn't make them easy prey for the spear-fishing free divers who also frequent the area.

The best surprise that I had regards fish, well there were a couple. I didn't bother with a torch so can't be certain but it did rather look like a cuckoo wrasse in one of the deep cracks just to the open water side of Black Top rocks, oh and on the subject of the reef there has been more sections recently bashed off in the bad weather so please take care if you want to go into the overhangs or through the swim through.

The second piscine surprise was the presence of pipefish, it's odd but every decade or so we have a year where there are huge amounts of pipefish, today it was just a couple that provided a nice distraction. I remember years ago that the wreck of SS Coryton near Ross Sands was absolutely infested with pipefish, not one or two, or a dozen, there were hundreds maybe thousands all over the wreckage, which I must say is a wildlife magnet in the middle of an expanse of sand.

Again on topography at the north end of the site the sand and stone mix has been totally shifted and the shale bottom is present and weed-free, the various nooks and crannies haven't yet been populated but it must only be a matter of time.

Oh, and the southerly side of the site there are a few areas which have been scoured out, most are alongside huge boulders which even the biggest sea couldn't shift so I guess that these huge, car size, boulders act with the swell to cause some sort of down-draft which scours out the area around the stone, with one end of the stone on solid rock its the Northerly end that takes the hit with large amounts of crud shifted, exposing more sea-bed and also more than a few lead weights.

Swimming slowly back towards the exit point I spotted a few more lost weights and also wrapped and chopped a length of braided fishing line that had been lost. On the plus point these braids are usually easy to see being woven from dark colours, unlike monofilament that is a single translucent strand. But, whilst easier to see they are not easier to snap and you need to use you knife, scissors or cutting device, any attempt to snap between your fingers or hand will end up in tears as the braid cuts through skin and flesh like a cheese cutter.

The weather looks ok for tomorrow but then conditions go to hell on Monday before improving through the week, so whilst tomorrow will be good diving there will be no chance of any 'cheeky' midweeker and it may be good enough to dive next weekend.

If you do decide to get wet then please think about planning your shore dive and please........

Dive safe


Weight this dive - 14.1 kg

Weight this year - 345.4 kg

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