Jul 22, 2013

Kernow Divers Scuba Diving Club Day 14-07-2013

In the middle of this sweltering hot July, Keith from Kernow Divers came up with the idea of running a scuba diving club day BBQ, as well as clearing a few skills for some members Rescue courses. Swanpool was chosen for ease of parking, great beach, cafe and the bay having an abundance of life.

Swanpool Beach

Jason brought the Trout along and quite a few club members turned up (too many to list), some with their partners and it was an interesting start to the day.

Dive Boat, The Trout

Kernow Divers Diving in Cornwall

Yet I should really start at the beginning, we had arranged to meet at 10am as I was going to be the unconscious diver for the Rescue course skills and it was planned to get it done early and out of the way so we could enjoy the day. As it had been a hot night, about 30C in my bedroom with the windows open and fan on I hadn’t slept very well and woke late, starting a morning at home of calamity on top of calamity. I finally got going at about 10.30 and was praying to Poseidon for clear traffic, which it was apart from one holiday maker with their caravan who insisted driving at 40mph on 60mph roads with no other traffic around but no where to overtake thanks to the bends and junctions in the road. Then all the traffic lights around Truro were against me, last time Poseidon gets any prayers of mine as the god of the sea and my faith is now going to the great spaghetti monster.

Rescue Course Skills

When I got there at about 11.20 there was already a couple in the water and Keith was running through some of the skills with the guys doing the Rescue course and with the number of people there I wasn’t actually needed in the end anyway so I donned my gear to join other divers and ended up following Keith and the others around on the surface taking some pics, was a great sight seeing a female duck and her brood enjoying a paddle around the bay but when they headed for the beach to get out there was too many people moving in to see and she turned them around and took them out on the rocks. I did manage to get reasonably close to get the one sneaky photo.

Happy Duck and her Ducklings

It was really nice floating around on the surface and snapping things, should have just put my mask and snorkel on and had some fun but me being me didn’t think that way, was worth it for the practice with the camera though, as you can see from my duck pic that I haven’t got the arms outstretched and level technique sorted, even in millpond conditions.

Rescueing an unconscoius diver practice

Keith demonstrating recovering an unconscious diver from the bottom, what isn’t seen in this photo are the DM’s and Instructors that were with him helping the Rescue divers go through all this in the water. Everyone that was on the course successfully completed all the skills, only a couple of people had to repeat a skill, with everyone working together and Keith’s clear instruction they understood their mistakes and at mid day Keith called time for lunch, great timing as always because I am sure the quiver across the surface of the bay was everyone’s stomachs. We also now have 8 Rescue divers in the club to go with the 8 DM’s and 8 Instructors.

Scuba Diving Club Day continued…

After lunch some of the club members went off on the Trout to a reef that was a little further to swim than anyone wanted to in the heat, leaving 4 of us to dive around the bay and we decided for a change that we would go straight out to the Eel Grass beds and we were lucky as Clare Marshall, one of our resident Marine Biologists was with us.

Clare, one of our resident Marine Biologists at Kernow Divers

With the bay only getting to about 7 or 8m at high tide, it is a very shallow dive site but there are plenty of things to see if you go left or right along the rocky reefs; yet not knowing about the Eel Grass would make you miss the whole little ecosystem that exists in the middle out across the sand. It was good diving with Paul as he knew where the bed was and it wasn’t long before we found it.

Unidentified Seaweed amongst the Eel Grass Bed

Small clumps of Eel Grass, as can be seen in the pic above top right were in front of us as far as the eye could see and with a good 10-12m vis at least, as we moved forward it was clear this spread over a vast area. We only got to a max depth of around 3.2m as the tide was on its way out and the water temperature was a beautiful 16C, part of the reason I was only wearing my 5/4 Excel wetsuit that I normally wear surfing.

Scuba Diver Paul Freeman Examining the Eel Grass off Swanpool Beach

We spotted a strange crab that Paul hadn’t seen before and as Clare and Mat had gone to the left and we had gone to the middle we couldn’t ask her what it was.

Unknown Crab amongst the Eel Grass

The pieces sticking up were part of its mouth and not something it had added like other crabs for camouflage, I was amazed at how many Bi-Valves were in the sand which I think were Ensis ensis (Razor clam) or something similair, literally everywhere and as we swam over they closed up and buried themselves slightly deeper. The reason I liked them so much was the way they reminded me of the Sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi and I could just see little things getting caught under the jaws.

Bi Valve

Bi Valve

Paul and I were having a great time and to be honest I was examining the beds and often forgot to take a photo of what I had seen, it was a bit worrying to see so many Echiichthys vipera (Lesser Weever) fish though that would suddenly come shooting out of the sand and swim off a few metres and re-bury themselves, I managed to capture one shot of a rather large one but they were very quick.

Lesser Weaver Fish at Swanpool Beach

The look on Paul’s face was priceless when we spotted a couple of happy crabs.

Scuba Diving with Paul Freeman

Yet trying not to disturb them I moved in for a shot, the male seemed to think I was there to take his place and he danced around the bed trying to hide his prize female from me.

Mating Crabs amongst the Eel Grass Bed at Swanppol Beach

It was such a fun dive that I wasn’t paying much attention to the battery on my camera, Paul came over to me and tapped me on the shoulder pointing at something that looked a little strange to me (no not my reflection in a mirror) and as I moved in closer could see it was some slug like creature, I went to take a shot and my screen was black so i started to panic thinking I had a flood and killed my camera but it was bone dry. Paul wrote on his  board that it was a Sea Hare, I was gutted as I hadn’t seen one before. We carried on looking around for a few more minutes and I just couldn’t get back into it, I looked at my air and still had 120 bar left, this was 45 minutes into the dive so I signaled Paul a T and made the gesture of drinking, his first response was to tell me his air, I shook my head and made it clear we should have a break for a tea as we had plenty of air left for another dive, he still had 140 bar.

After a break and a great cuppa from the cafe it was decided to go look for a lobster or 2, we had a rough idea where one was and it wasn’t any deeper than 2m around the reef. What started out being a 20 min dive turned into another 42 min one and I still had 60 bar left when I came out. It was amazing around the kelp bed to the right of the beach, plenty of life and we did find the lobster but he didn’t want to come out of his cave. I hadn’t taken my camera as I hadn’t changed the battery, with no fresh water till i got home I wasn’t going to open it up.

It must have been around 18.30-19.00 when Paul and I were sorting our kit out in the car park and everyone else had left, it was a great scuba diving club day even though we didn’t break out the BBQ’s and if anyone in Cornwall wants to dive more regularly I can highly recommend Kernow Divers because for £10 membership, free shore dives and only a donation toward fuel for the club boat you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people from all walks of life to dive with.

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