A two day mid-week club trip to Eyemouth took place in early September organised by our Diving Officer Oliver Coulson. Six divers attended the meet including two making their first ever sea dives.
We were lucky to have only a light breeze as well as sunny warm weather. The water temperature was also a balmy 15oC at about 20m.
Underwater visibility was also good following a period of settled conditions, probably around 20m. This combined with bright weather meant the anticipated underwater scenery was magnificent.
Dive sites were chosen to match a mixed ability group but that in no way took anything way from these world class dive sites and the spectacle they presented.
Our first dive was at Big Black Carr alongside a rocky outcrop in the sea south of St Abbs lighthouse. Diving down a steep wall teaming with a variety of sea weeds and dead man’s fingers we reached a boulder strewn sea bed before proceeding to explore a variety of gullies.
It was great to see plenty of fish around including large inquisitive Ballan Wrasse and shoals of Pollock and Ling. All dives were relatively shallow with a typical maximum depth of 20m and it was great to be able to look up and see the surface of the water overhead with the sun shining down. There were carpets of yellow and white Dead Man’s Fingers looked stunning with their polyps out feeding. Plenty of crabs, star fish, lobsters, a lemon sole plus a special encounter with a squid. Sadly we were unsuccessful in our wolf fish hunt!
After filling up with some light lunch helped down by mugs of hot tea and shortbreads on the boat we cruised the coast under St Abbs lighthouse to The Skells, a steep rocky cliff with a large vertical cleft. Another dive boat, hosting a group of underwater photographers, was out close by diving on a Pinnacle further out to sea. It would be good to see what material they managed to capture.
Out second dive saw us entering the water just seaward of the large vertical fissure. Descending to the sea flow and finning out to sea to find multiple anemone filled gullies. The Gullies were filled with e colourful Dahlia and plumose anemones and once again plenty of fish, crabs and lobsters. Eerily at about 17m again everything was covered in a bed of Brittle stars.
We were back in Eyemouth early afternoon and had plenty of time for a well-deserved rest followed by a walk onto the cliffs and a chance to explore some of the shore diving sites on offer in Eyemouth.
The second day saw us head out to Tye’s Tunnel but unfortunately the tide was still running and made the approach a little choppy. Instead we returned to another location near Big Black Carr and enjoyed another exploration of that site.
In the afternoon we cruised northwards via the buoy marking the wreck of the SS Glennmire to West Hurter a rock peninsula north of St Abbs lighthouse.
We were dropped off by the boat in a small bay and swam towards the cliff were there was a 20-30m long, 15m deep, 2m wide swim through which was quite nice the walls of the ‘gorge’ covered once again in anemones, dead man’s fingers and lots of crabs and squat lobsters. Once through the gorge we followed the cliffs southward to a large underwater cave which was interesting to have a look in before following one of the many gullies back out to sea. The visibility was a little poorer here due to the tides and waves close by but still very good and lots to see.
St Abbs, Eyemouth and the Firth of Forth provide inspiring diving ideal for all standards of divers in a spectacular marine reserve. The waters around the Berwickshire coast have long been considered as special by marine biologists and their wildlife has been much studied.
The water itself is unusually clear, in contrast to the more silt-laden coastal waters further to the north or south. Most dives are conducted less than 20m however, the bulk of the marine life is between 6 and 15m. The towering cliffs drop below the water line, and deep cut ridges are formed, with many kelp-topped boulders, the latter of which are vertical in nature closer inshore. Visibility averages around 10m but is usually more. Tidal ranges are small and currents on most sites usually minimal.
Anyone interested in another visit either for a day or two shore diving or from a boat?