Following a recce to Insh Island while diving in the Oban area back in June (trip report), we were keen to get back to the area and dive one of the walls there. So after a bit more research online some good information on the dives here was found thanks to this Firth of Lorn Seasearch Survey and a nice video taken during a dive off Sgeir Beul Na H-Uamhaidh, a small outcrop off the eastern tip of the island.
As the waters around Insh Island can be exposed to strong tidal streams, particularly the SW of the island, the plan for the day then was to dive the wall off Sgeir Beul Na H-Uamhaidh at slack water followed by an afternoon dive near Heather Island in the Sound of Kerrera.
With Myself, Ken, Micah, Wendy, Veronica, and Justin all arriving at Puffin Dive Centre on time, the club boat (Tay Explorer) was launched sharply and soon on the way out of Gallanach Bay. In the great weather conditions it was a leisurely 40 minute trip down across the Firth of Lorn to Insh Island, during which we passed a replica viking longship that was out sailing.
Once on site to the east of Sgeir Beul Na H-Uamhaidh the drop off of the wall beneath was easily found on the depth sounder, there was a shelf at about 10m at the top of the wall so this was where the first buddy pairs were dropped in, Justin and I followed shortly by Ken and Micah. We all descended through great visibility (at least 10m) onto a dense kelp forest on the shelf which continued down to about 15m before dropping away to a sheer wall followed by large steps into the depths. Justin and I followed this down to 27m before heading roughly north keeping the slope on our left while slowly ascending to 20m where we spent the majority of our dive, passing over numerous overhangs, steps, and large crevices that make up this wall.
As well as impressive underwater scenery the variety of life present on the wall was incredible, with numerous large branching sponges, various colonial sea squirts, cluster anemones, nudibranchs, bryozoans, hydroids, sunstars, and the less frequently seen celtic feather stars. All too soon it was time to send up a DSMB before ascending, with a max depth of 27m and total dive time of 44mins, a fantastic dive. Ken and Micah followed basically the same profile as us and we even met up at one point to check out a large Janolus cristatus nudibranch.
Once we were all back on the boat Wendy and Veronica were dropped in at the same spot for their dive and also enjoyed a nice scenic dive along the life covered wall at about 15m before sending up a DSMB and ascending.
After a very successful first dive it was back to Puffin Dive Centre for fills and lunch where we also met up with Callum, Lewis, and Dave who had also been making the best of the good conditions with a dive down at Belnahua quarry. After a nice lunch in the sun and all cylinders were filled everyone was back onto the boats and we were off to the second dive site of the day. Another wall, but this time just north of Heather Island off of a headland on the east side of Kerrera. A site that had been kindly named “Smelly Glove Point” after an incident involving a discarded glove on a previous dive here.
Buddy pairs were the same for this dive although Wendy and Veronica chose to sit this one out. This dive begins on a sand slope at about 10m where a large chain that leads in off the shore can be followed down to the top of the drop off.
A very different dive to the first one, due to the location it did have quite a covering of silt (similar to parts of Heather Island), however it was still an impressive site with steep vertical drop offs and it’s own variety of life. The rock faces were covered with feather stars, solitary sea squirts, and devonshire cup corals while sea cucumbers occupied the numerous crevices in the rock faces. Justin and I spent the majority of this dive around 20m again and surfaced with a total dive time of 41mins. With Ken and Micah following a similar profile again.
After the final dive of the day it was back to Puffin to recover, refuel, and wash the boat before heading for home. A really great day’s diving at two new sites, and I know we will certainly be back to explore more of Insh Island and hopefully further south.