Back in November, four of us from DSAC (Myself, Alistair, Micah, and Veronica) made our way over to Loch Leven to try out a site on the northern shore known as the Old Cemetery. The club has dived in Loch Leven a fair bit, mainly The Slates and occasionally Caolasnacon, but never along the north shore. There are a couple of sites in this area but with the promise of fireworks anemones, sea pens, and even a small wreck we decided on the Old Cemetery site.
We all met up at the site on time and to a welcome of heavy rain which made getting changed interesting, the rain did stop occasionally however and when it did we were treated to great views down the loch.
Once organised, Veronica and I were first in the water with the plan of finding the small wreck in the shallows before heading out deeper to where the sea pens and fireworks anemones could be found. From the shore we followed the gentle slope down to about 3m where it became a much steeper drop, at 6m we turned left and followed the ledge along for a couple of minutes before we came across the wooden wreck sitting on the slope. Being made of wood a lot of it has decomposed over the years but there is still the recognisable spine and ribs of the boat with very small parts of the hull intact. We didn’t spend long here and soon headed down the slope which bottomed out at 12m before the seafloor turned to mud.
Carrying on carefully out over the very fine silt/mud bottom it wasn’t long before we started to come across phosphorescent and slender sea pens at about 14m, first just the odd one then a bit further out they were everywhere along with a number of fireworks anemones. All of this was still in only 16m, in fact after about 10mins of constant finning over the mud it was clear we weren’t going to get much more depth and soon it was time to turn back towards the shore.
Navigating over a seemingly constant and featureless bottom can be a little disorientating but you just have to trust your compass and soon enough we were back at the bottom of the steeper slope and boulder reef at 12m. We had come back to the slope near the jetty here and that was pretty obvious given the amount of litter/junk and thousands of emptied scallop shells that had been dumped over the years (unfortunately what appears to be a case of “out of sight out of mind”) From here it was easy to follow the slope back to the point at which we had entered.
As well as the sea pens and fireworks anemones there was also a lot of other life to be found in the mud, with langoustine burrows dotted about, large hermit crabs, Inachus spp. spider crabs, long-legged spider crabs, and black gobies. The shallow boulder reef was home to sea loch anemones, various sea squirts, peacock worms, common sunstars, and also a couple of Facelina bostoniensis nudibranchs. Visibility was reasonable too with a good amount of ambient light at depth, with a total time of 33mins, max depth of 16.1m, and the water a balmy 13°C this was an enjoyable dive.
Alistair and Micah were off on their dive next leaving us to enjoy a break in the rain during our surface interval. Choosing to explore east of the entry point to see if they could find a bit more depth Alistair and Micah had a good dive and encountered much of the same life we had on our first dive. As it turned out that even after finning out for quite a bit further they still only reached 17m.
On our second dive Veronica and I went out to find the other wreck that is reported to be out from the end of the jetty. Passing over all the junk and scallop shells we headed out over the mud again searching for the wreck but it was not to be found. We did however come across a couple of tall sea pens, one of which must’ve been over 1m tall. A less frequently encountered species usually found below 30m yet here they were in just 17m. We also spent a bit more time exploring the boulder reef on the slope before heading back to the exit point and were lucky enough to spot two small-spotted catsharks (dogfish). A good dive with a max depth of 17m and total time of 39mins.
For the last dive of the day Alistair and Micah explored west towards the jetty and boulder reef and had another enjoyable dive with a slightly shorter surface swim than the first at the end. Luckily, once Alistair and Micah had completed their dive the rain stayed off long enough for everyone to get changed.
It’s always nice to explore new sites and this was no exception, despite the amount of junk/litter discarded underwater here, along with the small boulder reefs this is a great site for the sea loch mud habitat with all the associated life and in relatively shallow depths. A good day’s diving.