Sunday, 5 September 2010

Shore diving

Diving the british coast can be an amazing experience, with a diversity of life unlike anything you'll find in the tropics.  You just have to be willing to brave cold waters, bad weather, and a visibility measured in inches instead of meters.

This weekend I was at St. Mary's Lighthouse, north of Newcastle.  This is how the tourists see St. Mary's:

and this is how I saw it:

Probably due to the shallowness of the dive site and the proximity of a sandy beach, there was not as much life as at places farther north up the coast, but there were still crabs, lobsters, turban snails, and sea anemones.  The high point of the dive was finding a small blenny curled in an S shape, hoping not to be noticed, then darting off when it realized it had an audience!  The low point (or sad point, really) was coming across a large lobster trapped in an abandoned lobster pot... if I had thought to bring a dive knife I could have cut it free, but as it was, I had to leave it behind.  There something about seeing these large, beautiful crustaceans when they are alive and in their native habitat that makes it seem like such waste to trap and eat them.

The visibility in the water was too poor for most of my attempts at photography, but I did manage a short film clip of a crab scuttling away from us.  It also gives you a bit of an idea of the visibility I had to deal with.  Getting lost was a constant risk, even with a compass,  and we had to surface several times just to figure out where we were!

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