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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Octopussy

Started off a little grey and little cool but the sun shone upon us come the end of the day. And what a glorious day it was and not just because we were loaded and out the harbour by 9:11am (almost on time for a change).

Heading out to lift the pots before the mad rush starts

Little bit of chop on the surface with  a 2 knot Easterly but it wasn't a problem, apart from one young lad up from down South who was used to diving in quarries. He was greener than brussel sprout by the time we got back on the boat, poor bugger.

Edible crab eating
First port of call was Skellies, which was reliably awesome with the gullies proving a real treasure trove of scenic opportunities and marine life. Vis was average today with 6-9m, could have been better but seen it a lot worse. Big shoals of pollock crusing around with the obligatory wrasse on our heels like little puppy dogs and we had some nice big cod and flat fish which were a good find towards the end of the dive.

Thou shall have a fishie, when the boat comes in....
During surface interval, reports came in from Pathfinder of an angler fish mooching around at Black Carr, so being the kind of divers that we are, it would have been rude not to dive it. And you should know by now, there's never a bad dvie on Black Carr! As regular as clockwork, the wolfish where in there usual hiding places just past the anchor, but the little buggers were hunkered down at the back of their hole and weren't for moving. Inconsiderate or what?

Nope. Not coming out to play today

No angler fish but we wererewarded with a semi-regular visit from an octupus who was more than happy just to sit there and have camera rigs pointed in its direction. Put a little vid of it below ( the intermittent white outs are from Elaines strobes). And I didn't turn my lighting on it as I didnt want to scare the little fella off.

video


I'd like to be, under the sea, in an octopus's garden in the shade
A perfect way to end the day with a quality find, as well as professional level SMB deployment by Mabs and a fresh batch of fudge from Peter when we got back on the boat. It doesn't get better than that really. Apart from seeing two octopus....octopi....octopusses....two of them things.......

"Where does this bit go again?"
13 degrees in the water is not to be sniffed at and definately better than the 5 degrees we had in December, so I'm not going to complain. Another couple of degrees and Mab's might be able to go in hoodless. 


Mr O'Callaghan (Pathfinder) modelling the wallpaper I used to have in my bog in the 70's
With any luck the weather should hold for next Saturday as guided diving beckons again with a request for Cathedral Rock amongst others. Don't know if I'll have my rig in the water with me, but you'll see the end results here next week if I have.


And the obligatory post dive celebratory octopus hug and dance
Oh, and before I forget it was the lifeboat open day at St Abbs today so if you dont already support your local lifeboat, please do so as they are an essential service in communities like this and without them, we'd be right in the brown smelly stuff, as evidenced by the emergency a diver had today. Donate now!  Click Here

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Seal Team

Well after dodging work for the day, we went off on a jolly down to Eyemouth for a change as we had the chance to jump in with seals at the Burnmouth colony. Sun was shining but we had a fair bit of surge jumping in at the 13metre mark. 

Lazing in the kelp
After our Farnes experiences from previous years, I figured the seals would be happy mucking around in the kelp in the shallows, about 3metres or so close to the shore.After a hard old swim throught the surge, we were rewarded for our efforts with a good dozen or so adult seals who ranged from the skittish to the devious to the down right brazen!  

Elaine frightens more marine life with her monsterous dome port

The Farnes seals are more abundant and for more playful across the board, but then they have divers jumping in with them all the time so are used to people like us. The colony at Burnmouth are quite fully acclimated towards divers, so patience is a requirement but well worth it in the end.

Some of them do like a good old game of hide and seek, a good scratch or just a nibble on your fins when your backs turned. Some of the gestures and mannerisms displayed are so human, you forget you're swimming with seals.

This one thought he could sneek up on me......gotcha!



It was a long haul out of the shallows back into the depths for the pick up, a cup of tea and a chocky biccies The vis wasn't the best ever today, but when you're playing with seals, you cant really complain. 

Larry lobster laughing loudly
 We scooted back to harbour to offload the other divers and then there was just the dynamic duo left on the boat to head up to Weasel Loch. No, it's not full of weasels and no, it's not a loch, so don't ask me why its called what its called, but as its just round the corner from the harbour is a short boat trip for a half decent dive with lots of boulders and shelves to go snooping around in, over and under. 

Elaine becomes centre of attention. As usual :-P

 With plenty of lobsters, edible crabs, sunstars, scorpion fish, hard corals flat fish and dead mens fingers to keep us entertained, we whiled away the minutes playing spot the critter.

Fish, flat, today
With a promise to Derek to hit surface after 60 minutes(ish) we polished of the safety stop (with Elaine deploying her SMB for the first time in years) and came up with a hell of a swell to greet us. Getting back on the lift was a challenge and a half and provided many minutes of entertainment, although not necessarily for the right reasons.....

Elaine with reel and SMB. Remember this picture. You'll not see it's like again for many a moon
Burnmouth seal colony is definately worth a visit, just make sure you speak to the skippers first to pick the best days to get the best weather and get precise instructions on where you should be going to get the most out of the site. 

It's not as big a colony as Farnes, but then it's practically on the doorstep for lots of us and only spitting distance from St Abbs and other stonking dive sites, so you really are spoilt for choice.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Blunt force trauma

Well it's that time of month again where the kippers invade the East coast, so we head West. And a good call it was too as the diving was called off on the East due to heavy swells. Whereas we had scorching sunshine and cracking vis on the West. Good idea on our behalf!
St Catherines Site One in panorama
Loch Fyne was teaming with good stuff today, tonnes of Lions Mane jellyfish, Gobies, Blennies, Squat lobsters, Langoustines, Firework anemones, and loads of Nudibranchs. 10 degrees in the shallows with a drop down to 8 at 23 metres, it was still more than adequate, although we wish it would pick up a little considering its summer time!

Elaine gets Lions Mane in her sights
And the diving proved to be quite challenging, but not necessarily for the reasons that you would thing. It involved fishing rods, fins and minor concussion. But I will be the gentleman and keep a lady's secrets. Rest assured that I have upped my dive insurance prior to getting back into the water with Elaine for Thursday.......

A happy little Squattie



With a total run time of 160 minutes, and superb surface conditons, not to mention a selection of Hamish's fine culinary skills, it's safe to say a good day out was had by all, despite the injuries received by myself. But it's ok. I forgive you. Just this once though......

A pair of nudi's getting it on. Bow-chicka-bow-wow!



Here doggie! Good dogfish! Roll over! Fetch!


Down at depth, the main features were the multitude of Firework anemones and Langoustines runing about the place. It was like whack-a-mole. As soon as one popped into its hole another one would pop out. Hours of entertainment trying to photo them.

Firework Anemone in full explosion



Langoustine poses for the camera. Smile!
Roll on Thursday for seals. The weather looks promising so we should be in for a good time, so tune in then for the the latest update and we'll be jumping in at St Abbs on Saturday again, so back to normal wether permitting.
Nice big old Cod hangs around the wreck

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fish eating at 1000 fps


I thought this was pretty nifty. There's a whole series of them on Youtube to find. A perfect way to relax after a hard days work. Watch fish eating in slow motion.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Wrasse Whisperer

As promised from my previous post, Elaines finally sent the pictures through. For many a moon I was known as the lobster whisperer, but know I am officially recognised as the wrasse whisperer. Only finger rubbing and the power of thought involved.

All hail my mystical powers of wrasse attraction. If only it would work on women.......

My minions and I
Whisper, whisper, whisper....

Satisfied Customers

St Abbs Panorama

Well no underwater shots this week as I had two new divers to the marine reserve to look after and a very nice couple from the Wirral they were too. It started off persistently pissing it down but with no wind and good vis, you can't really complain now, can you? Paul O done sterling job on Pathfinder shuttling us around today and feeing us tea, although missed on on the choccie biccies after the first dive. Disappointing!
Bob, resident Mr Fixit, RNLI volunteer, ROV pilot and cigar smoker
 Jumped in at Skellies Hole and straight away on the swim out, bagged a free swimming Wolfie, which was a nice bonus for my divers who had never seen one before which was a nice surprise. Tide was on the ebb into slack so the current was pushing on a wee bit before we dropped into the gullies a found some nice nudis, butterfish and scorpionfish. We started heading over to West Hurker before I sent my divers up and continuing on for a mooch around. 

I wish I had my rig with me though as I came across one of the biggest female scorpionfish I had ever seen. She was a beaut. A nice mottled grey/white sitting at the base of the rock. Then to top it all, find the mother of all nudis sitting out in the open on the gravel. Easily 9-10 inches long with a girth of about 2 inches. Wish I had my rig.....

On the bright side, the rain stopped, the sun came out along with the triple chocolate chip cookies, which were greatly enjoyed by the girls as you can tell......

COOKIE MONSTER
Dive two saw a jump off at the back of Black Carr with 14m+ plus vis and a large amount of wolf fish that please my divers no end. Wolf fish heaven. They were popping out everywhere. Waved them off the surface after 40 minutes and bumped back into Elaine and Mabs as they came past Wuddy Rocks where I performed my amazing Wrasse whispering trick for the benefite of Elaines cameraThe secret skill of enticing Wrasse to come to you  with just the power of thought and suggestion. I should get my own Discovery channel show.....

As soon as she can be bothered to get the pictures off her camera and send them, I'll add them to the post. She claims she's too busy washing her kit off, but we all know that Hamish does it for her.......


Elaine does the traditional half time cookie dance
Landward ho with very happy divers before a quick stop for fills and onward journey home in time for tea.


The writings on the wall. Just some of the many dive sites mapped on the entrance wall of Scoutscroft Dive Centre




 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Shark Week


As part of the run up to this year's Shark Week, the Discovery channel's teamed with the Georgia Aquarium and embedded a live webcam in the world's largest shark tank. 

The 9.5 Olympic pool-sized (that's 6.3 million gallons) tank was originally built to contain Whale Sharks and is currently hosting the Ocean Voyager exhibit. Aside from the aquarium's seven shark species (including the whale variety), it also houses the only four captive manta rays in the United States. 

Viewers can peek in on the fish and watch the daily feedings until August 7. Shark Week begins July 31st on the Discovery Channel

Happy shark watching!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

I can see clearly now the bloom has gone....

Well it's only taken us since the 1st of January to get good vis, but we finally got there. This year has proven to have been pants for vis and completely uncharacteristic compared to years gone by but we finally got 12-14 metres on Sunday. Still not the 20+m we're accustomed to but better than a kick in the teeth. And even better is that eveyone else on the boat followed our example and was actually kitted up and prepped to jump in on site, instead of the usual getting on site and then them taking 30 minutes to jump in. Amazing.

Black Carr first up, and as we always keep saying, never a bad dive on Black Carr and this proved to be abolutely true. With excellent vis, the wall round the front of Big Black Carr was well lit and teaming with life. Soft corals, dead mens fingers and plumose anemones in abundance, with scorpion fish and butter fish playing hide and seek from the camera lens.
Yea? What you looking at??

Several wolfies made appearances throughout the dive as we snaked our way in and out the swim throughs with a great find by Mabs right at the end, although I question if it was a find as it was quite happily wandering over the rocks in plain view.

This is the twin brother of Grandfather lobster from the Skellies. Just as big, close to 70-75cm and pincers as big as my forearm. None fo the girls would go near it to show a good size comparison but you can tell by the size of barnacles and urchins in the picture that he was a big old brute. He didnt give a toss about moving  out of the way or trying to hide and just sat there and looked decidedly surly about the whole episode!

Grandfather lobster despairs at young divers today....
After a 71 minute run time and some cracking shots, we reluctanly had to hit the surface before all the chocolate digestives were eaten by everyone else waiting for us. Luckily Paul keeps a good stash and never fails to keep us in biscuits.
Elaine gets some Black Carr wall action

I made executive decision of Skellies for second dive. Originally going to be the Craigs but went with Skellies in the end and jumped in at the hole. Tide was starting to ebb and there was a bit of a push on to get out of the hole but once in the gulllies the current settled down and we had another spectacular dive with the Wolfies making another appearance along with the usual suspects of blennies, gobies, squat lobsters, edible crabs and absolutely covered in nudibranchs.  

Just one of many nudis mooching around
No guilliemots dive bombing us today but plenty of moon jelly fish. They were causing a problem for the Torness power station earlier in the week as they had clogged up the water intakes and the authorities had to hire the local fishermen to trawl round the station and clear the waters. Serious jelly infestation.
Who's afraid of the big, bad wolfie?
Spectacular walls in the gullies and the lighting proved to excellent for some scenic shots. 77min run time and back on board for more tea and biccies. We also had radio chatter about minke whale sightings a couple hundred metres away from pick up and we went over to investigate but didnt get to see any today, which is a shame, but they had been around during the week with people reporting regular sightings, so you never know what you'll see on the day.
Mabs drops into the Skellies

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Both trotters in the trough

Well another year, another food festival. Some of the top restaurants and chefs were in attendance, although the only chef I recognised was Gary Rhodes. Never seen the rest before, so I must be showing my age.... If you happen to be in Edinburgh at the right time, the food festival is definately well worth a visit and you get to support the local merchants as well, so very worthwhile.

Sun was shining and the food and drink was flowing. Lots of people but plenty of elbow room to move around and sit down if you wanted to.

Forking 'ell!
First round of food was a mix from various vendors with Jill having the braised beef cheek in red wine with smoked bacon, Fi noshing through the chicken marinated on fresh ginger and I settled for a light snack of Lankashire blue cheese risotto bon bons. Sound posh but was basically a cheese risotto scotch egg. I felt a bit conned but it nice anyway. Bloody posh scotch eggs....

This was then swiftly followed by a lenghty tasting session of Swedish (of all things) cider made by Rekorderlig. If you ever see it, it's well worth a try. And only 4% abv. so ideal for lightweights. Would never have thought that half decent cider would be made outside the West country, but there you go. you learn something new every day.

The girls getting stuck in
Round two was unanimous and we all went for the slow braised belly of pork, mashed potato, honey, black pepper and vanilla salt, which was exceptional. The crackling could have done with being a bit crunchier, but it was still nice. 

Some more Reckorderlig was in order alond with a brisk walk to work of the food and work up an appetite. During the walk we dutifully tried food samples from various vendors including some very nice Welsh cheeses and a variety of fudges to name but a few.

Fi waits in the background, patiently stalking the Welsh cheeses....


 Dessert was another clear winner with a chocolate and raspberry cranachan, sweet cicely syrup and orange scented shortbread. It was nice. They also got hammered pretty damned quickly!

3 desserts - gone in a flash!
 A bit more walking around to slow down the effects of an expanding waste line and a bit of live music to add the the spirit of the day and the girls manged to squeeze in a sickly triple chocolate mousse whilst I was being the sensible one and didnt have any. I went for a selection of artisan cheeses with oatcakes and chutney instead! I knew I'd pay for it later, but it was nice.....

A tiered cake made out of roundels of cheese. A cheese cake? (ho-ho)
With the afternoon closing in and our clothing straining under the added inches, we wobbled off throught the exit to leisurely stroll through the meadows, sunlight dancing through the trees, only pausing briefly for a 99 ice-cream with flake and raspberry sauce on the way home. Champion.

Lets hope I can still get into my drysuit next weekend! and if you hear any report of beached whales on the East coast, dont panic as it'll be just me during surface interval.