Loch Fyne Shore Diving 17/12/16

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.

St. Catherines Entry Point

St. Catherines Entry Point

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.

Life on the Speedboat

Life on the Speedboat

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.

Ryan

Ryan

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!

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone curled up

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone curled up

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone inner tentacles

Fluorescing Fireworks Anemone inner tentacles

 

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.

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Fluorescent Fireworks, Loch Fyne 12/11/16

Last Saturday Les, Ryan, and I travelled over to Loch Fyne for a day’s shore diving at the site known as Drishaig Reef. As well as having an interesting boulder reef which is home to a variety of life this site is also known for Fireworks Anemones.

These were the main reason for choosing to dive this site as I had long suspected that they would fluoresce well under blue (near UV) light. After previous dives in Loch Melfort and Loch Fyne I had seen fluorescence in a wide variety of life (cup corals, squat lobsters, hermit crabs, yarrell’s blenny, dragonets, and burrowing anemones) but had never had the chance to try it out on fireworks anemones.

The first dive was just a regular dive, heading straight out from the shore we descended the silt slope and turned right to find the rocky reef which was covered in sea loch anemones, various squirts, peacock worms, and some unusual sponges. There were also plenty of hermit crabs and squat lobsters around between the boulders. After passing over the reef we came across three large fireworks anemones quite close to each other in about 20m depth. From there we then moved shallower back up the reef and towards the shore, the visibility was next to nothing down to about 4m but beyond this it was much clearer and with water temp still around 11°C this was a really pleasant dive.

For the dives in the afternoon (after a great lunch in Inveraray) I setup the GoPro (thanks Callum!) with my blue light and yellow barrier filter to hopefully film some fluorescent anemones, the barrier filter blocks out most of the blue light that is reflected back, allowing the fluorescence to be seen more efficiently. I also took in some yellow mask filters for me and Les/Ryan so we could all see what was going on.

Thanks to the murky layer of fresh water runoff on the surface blocking out most of the light the dives were dark enough that we didn’t have to wait and do a night dive. On both afternoon dives (one each with Ryan and Les) we were all able to see plenty fluorescing including hermit crabs and squat lobsters with their glowing mouthparts and claws.

By far the most impressive though were the fireworks anemones with the smaller central tentacles and tips of the long tentacles fluorescing very brightly!

A really enjoyable couple of dives and it was great to finally get some footage of these anemones under the blue lights.

This type of diving is also known as Fluodiving and is now regularly offered by dive centres abroad where night dives on coral reefs can be quite spectacular using blue lights (click here for some photos from a night dive in Thailand). The variety of life that shows fluorescence in this way is huge,  from corals and anemones to fish, eels, and sharks, and more recently even turtles have been shown to fluoresce!

However there is no doubt that there is also plenty that fluoresces in our own waters. I’m hoping we will be able to get more dives done over the winter to get some more photos and video.

http://firedivegear.com/science/ is a great website that has lots of background info on the science behind this as well as some great photos/videos.

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