Five members of DSAC headed west for some winter diving in Loch Fyne last weekend, the plan for the day was to do one dive at St. Catherines/Seal Reef followed by a dive near head of Loch Fyne with the aim of capturing some images of Fireworks Anemones fluorescing under blue lights.
Alistair, Lindsay, Brian, Ryan and I were all at St. Catherines by 09:30, we had arranged to meet there early as the site can sometimes be very busy which makes parking difficult but as it turned out we had the site to ourselves all morning.
The first divers in the water were Alistair, Lindsay, and Brian. They had planned on carrying out a search dive to find the small speedboat wreck before then moving on to the boulder reef but they managed to descend down the slope right onto the wreck so no searching was needed! They reported a good dive though, exploring the small wreck followed by the boulder reef with reasonable visibility and water temp, although they did mention it was slightly cooler in the shallows thanks to the normal fresh water run off.
Ryan and I were in second and followed pretty much the same profile as the first group. Once below the surface we headed straight down the slope to 20m before turning left to find the speedboat, a very small wreck but it is worth a quick look around and it provides a home for a variety of life. The hull is covered in sea loch anemones and peacock worms while some large pollack were slowly swimming around in and different parts of it.
From the boat we moved on to the boulder reef which lies just up the loch from the entry point, with the good visibility we were able to see quite a lot of the reef although there didn’t seem to be as much life as I remember from previous dives but there were a lot of greater spider crabs, various gobies, the occasional sea loch anemone and sea squirt, along with some unusual looking sponges so it was still a good dive.
A few more photos from the first dive can be seen here.
Once we were all packed up we headed up to the top of Loch Fyne and stopped for coffee/lunch at the Tree Shop Cafe, the homemade mince pies went down very well!
The site for our second dive was Cairndow View/Oyster Bar Moorings, I had chosen this site as it is one known for large numbers of Fireworks Anemones. Back in November (read about it here) I had managed to get some footage on a GoPro of these anemones fluorescing under blue (near-UV) lights but now armed with a new camera I was keen to get some photographs as well. This type of photography is better done on night dives or in very low light so there is no ambient light to interfere with the fluorescence, thankfully diving in sea lochs often provides these conditions during the day, particularly near the head of the loch where there is a lot of silty freshwater run off.
Lindsay and Brian were in the water first and followed the recommended simple profile for this dive which is to head straight out down the gradual slope to around 20m near the moorings then move down the loch a little before turning back to shore. They reported good numbers of fireworks anemones and that it was quite dark beyond 10m, which was sounding good!
By the time Ryan and I went in the daylight was also fading so I was hopeful of good conditions for photographing fluorescent anemone. We followed the same profile as Lindsay/Brian, although on quite a featureless and flat mud slope in dark/low vis it is quite easy to get disoriented and slightly lost (may have been my fault) but after checking the compass a few times were able to keep on track.
Once we had stopped going round in circles we found dozens of fireworks anemones which are impressive under normal light but looked even better fluorescing under the blue lights and I was able to get a few photos that I was really happy with!
More photos can be seen here.
A good day’s winter diving, it was great to finally get some photos of these anemones fluorescing. Hopefully there will be more photos to come soon of other fluorescing marine life.