Sunday, 25 April 2010

24th April - Good visibility and first Cuttlefish sighting

Rather more wind than we would have liked from our least favourite Easterly direction.........consequently some waves for each of the dives but not enough to deter us from staying round Sesley where the visibility was consistently good. Early morning drift offshore found lots of dahlia anemones and plaice but no rays on this occasion. Next to the Mixon.............excellent vis here (7-9m) and I was able to drop off the divers and watch them swim over the ledge - those who traversed west found lots of smoothhounds on the bottom whilst those who stayed closer to the Beacon saw a Cuttlefish and a nice Lumpsucker on the edge of the ledge. Finally the Far Mulberry.............good 5-6m visibility and plenty to see.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

18th April - Nudibranchs, SeaSearch and Thornback Rays

Blue skies again, minimal wind and smooth sea although the Easterly wind still had a chill to it. Visibility on the Far Mulberry was excellent (7m+) and the SeaSearch  (SeaSearch Organisation) group were able to enjoy themselves identfying the hard coral on the Northern face (three of the five UK species to be found here with the Southern Cup Coral and Weymouth Carpet Cup Corals classified as nationally rare) as well as this being the most Easterly site for Jewel  Anemones. No sign of a Lumpsucker on the Mulberry itself but there is a juvenile in the bow of the nearby Cuckoo rescue craft - regrettably not in a good position for photographs. 

Second dive was on the Landing Craft; visibility not so good (2-3m) but plenty of marine life including Nudibranchs. Final dive was a drift off Selsey - on the way out, there was a solitary small cuttlefish bone in the water indicating that as the water temperatuer starts to go above 10C, the fish are returning. First group drifted straight off from the Mulberry and were rewarded with half a dozen Thornback Rays and large Plaice. Second group followed the line to the Cuckoo and spent time looking at the Lumpsucker and Nudibranchs before drifting for the last 15 minutes - visibility again good. The Dredger that has been replenishing Pagham beach sailed past having completed it's High Water rainbowing of the beach - the good news is the activity is planned to finish within the next few days.

The SeaSearch group visited us last October and a comprehensive report of their findings for the Far Mulberry can be found at SeaSearch Far Mulberry report - the report shows that the site has grown in conservation value and illustrates how the marine life has changed since the 1983 survey.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

17th April - Octopus, Lumpsuckers and good visibility

Started the day on the Far Mulberry - very popular with 5 boats = 50 divers. Good visibility (5m) and plenty to see although water temperature means that not all the fish have returned - however the Lumpsuckers are definitely back with one reported on the Cuckoo and another on the far side of the Mulberry itself.  The midday dive was the Landing Craft - 2m visibility here although still plenty to see. Finally a drift off Selsey - excellent visibility here (10m with the divers being able to watch boats, pots markers etc from the bottom) - thornback rays and dogfish all seen. The marshalled dive on the Lifeboat Station found visibility of only 2m as a result of the sand pumping at Pagham - however the buddy pair that made it to the reef further out, found 5m visibility and plenty of nudibranchs - all the divers saw many anenomes and plenty of smaller fish.

And the Octopus?  The  Chichester Observer reports that an Curled Octopus was recently donated to the Portsmouth Blue Reef aquarium after it was lifted in a pot by one of the Selsey Fishermen.......something else to add to the list of marine life potentially to be seen.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

10th April - Good visibility, flat seas, blue skies...............where is everyone?

Yesterday we put Phoenix in the water and brought her round from Itchenor stopping at various pot markers in Bracklesham Bay on the way to check visibility - our guess was approx 2-3m. We then spent an enjoyable couple of hours putting a new chain on the mooring.

Occupied myself in the pool first thing providing a scuba party - they hadn't realised how much fun somersaults were underwater. Today, for once the forecast held true and by mid-morning we had blue skies, hardly any wind and excellent surface visibility........................off to the Far Mulberry at midday for Phoenix's first excursion of 2010. Little surface chop on the way so cruised out at 18 knots...........the marker buoy needs a good scrub but has survived the winter. Watched the divers go down the shot line and and could see them quite a way - both pairs managed 50 + minutes with 8C water...........visibility reported at 3-4m; plenty of nudibranchs and a reasonable number of fish.

Unfortunately we've don't have enough bookings on the boat to be able to run the planned dives tomorrow......it's clear that other boats have also cancelled some or all of their dives this weekend so obviously not many people diving at the moment however the current weather is perfect dry suit diving and there is an opportunity to see marine life such as dahlia anemones before they disappear under weed.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Monday 5th April - Have you seen our Dunk tank?

Started the day by visiting Hillfield Rd car park to be greeted by a two tone seascape - immediately in front of us was thick cappuchino coffee with a streak of blue where the Looe Channel runs with slighty lighter latte behind - the impact of the last few days of high winds only too obvious in the lack of visibility. The sandbank visible at low tide has grown over the winter and looks as if the tail has curved further in towards the shore which might further restrict safe passage times - on the other hand, cricket would certainly be feasible on it at Springs Low Water.

Arrived at the Dive Centre to find that someone had helped themselves to our water butt dunk tank overnight; since it was full yesterday, it must have taken some time to empty and carry away :-(
In between the Equipment course we were running, spent time comtemplating various high security measures to protect the dunk tank in future.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Friday 2nd April - No diving :-(

Well the weather has beaten us - lots of wind today and big waves so all diving cancelled. The rest of the weekend is not looking that brilliant with winds consistently at the F4/5+ level. Consoled myself with the very nice chocolate banana cake from last week's Open Water student 'fine' (Thanks Kate :-)) and the thought that Easter is very early this year.