Gyllyngvase refresher dive with Elli 28-06-2014

I had invited Elli to come to Cornwall to dive over a year ago and finally work gave her some time off, and her first dive started on Gyllyngvase beach with a refresher dive with local Instructor Paul Allaway. The weekend began for Elli when she finished work and had to board a train at Paddington, London; for me it began at 11.30PM when I picked her up from the station. I first met Elli online through Google+ and it was because of her enthusiasm and passion for marine conservation that I invited her down for a weekend of diving.

As the rescue diver for her refresher course I had to have my hands free so didn’t take my camera, it was a pleasant dive with Elli successfully completing her training after a review of the questions in the book over a cuppa at the Gylly beach cafe. Paul was gently but thoroughly making sure Elli understood the things she learnt over 2 years ago when her original training took place on the Great Barrier reef in Australia, which had been her home for 14 years (Elli is 25 btw). I was of course listening to the things they were discussing as it is never a good thing to be over confident in the things you think you know when diving. Having met Paul through Kernow Divers I knew he was a friendly chap and a comfortable person to have in a group of divers, it was impressive that he had stored so much information about diving from his instructor training and I was looking forward to the next couple of days diving, with a guided dive in the afternoon, Mevagissey again in the evening, another guided dive on Sunday morning, 2 more in the afternoon and 1 more on Monday morning; that was the plan anyway.

 

Jun 18, 2014

Newquay Headland Evening Bimble.

So after 10 months and 3 bailed dives earlier this year for one reason or another (battery on my computer died, then on my buddy’s, visibility zero meters on another) I finally got to get in the water. Kurt and I went to Newquay Headland for a pleasant evening bimble and it was a thoroughly enjoyable dive.

We discussed going in at seal cove, swimming out to anemone rock and then back past the slipway to the main entry point below the toilets, but by the time we had got our kit on (which wasn’t long) we were both rather hot and decided we would go in at the entry below the toilets and swim to seal cove instead. As always I was snapping away, could probably heat an igloo in the middle of the arctic with the heat coming off my poor little camera when I am diving.

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This was the first critter my lens fell in front of, and we saw a fair few of them like you do on all dives here, she calmly waited for me to finish taking the shot before she decided to find a bit of cover from the 2 bumbling big black monsters that had just invaded her space.

huge starfish

Then I spotted this common spiny starfish, it was huge, next to it is Kurt’s hand and apart from one I saw at Port Gaverne that looked like it could eat a whale, this was the biggest I had seen with my camera in hand.

Puzzled diver

Kurt was enjoying his dive, and fighting with the smb, boy am I glad I have an excuse not to tow it around anymore, as you can clearly see in the vis the reports of 10-15m vis on the headland had been greatly exaggerated and it was more like 3m clear, 5-8m dark shapes you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley and am so glad we don’t really have issues with sharks here in Cornwall.

We were casually bimbling along and I was enjoying being back in the water after such a long time (love the way it recharges your batteries and clears your head at the same time) when I realised I had blown through 50 bar of air just in getting myself settled in the first few minutes, I suppose for those that don’t know I should now tell you we were only at 9m, at high tide it is a constant 9m along most of the headland on the NE side making it an easy and safe dive, as long as you don’t go any further North than the female seals tiny cave.

No I didn’t get any shots of seals, they were obviously being fed in the harbour by the tourists, kinda sucks as need to start getting pics for the calender soon.

I did however see a new species for me, I thought it was a small, or female pipefish and got carried away taking pics as it had a strange glowing secretion coming out of it.

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I brightened the second pic up post dive in ib (the Olympus RAW editing program) so I could see the fish clearer, I have since found out that it is a 15 spined stickleback or Spinachia spinachia and while fairly common by the sounds of it, being the first time I saw one, and a male about to build his nest, which was why he was secreting a bio-luminescent chain of pearls I was, and still am pumped about it and looking forward to diving it again soon to see if I can find the nest.

It was about this point that I was starting to get into that zen moment of enjoying the dive and it felt a bit like one of my first dives again, even though I have been diving at Newquay headland more than any other spot due to people knowing where it is and its access.

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We found a crab pot and its captives sat in the sand, it looked more like a mosh pit than a crab pot, can’t help but feel sorry for them crammed in like that.

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With the poor vis I couldn’t get a full shot but did manage to get Kurt holding the pot like a stone age hunter.

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There was a lot of changes in the reef after the storms, some areas the sand had been cleared away from its base and it was amazing to see how fast it had been colonised, again due to the lighting and sediment in suspension it was hard to get a good distance shot but did manage to get a nice shot of one of the breaks in the reef where the sand was at least 12″ lower than it was last year as you can see on the lower right of the picture with the kink in the plant growth.

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When we had been pottering around in the area past the break, where the male seal sometimes lies on the bottom in a small bowl he had carved out I saw a small jellyfish flaot past, I tried a few shots of it but the camera wouldn’t focus so had to put my hand behind it, it is on the left of my hand.

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Then I saw a rather large fish swim into the weed and I followed it slowly hoping it would stick its head back out but I call it the ‘one that got away’

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There were loads of juvenile dragonets as there are at most spots around Cornwall.

hide and seek

We had reached seal cove and I checked how much air Kurt had, if I recall it was around 150 bar and I was down to 80 bar, but it was my first dive in a long time and I expected to use a bit, just not that much so we turned and rushed back toward the lifeboat slipway, surfacing 30ft away to keep an eye on the approach. There were 3 youngsters snorkeling and Kurt and I waited patiently for them to get away from the bottom of the ramp, I think one of them may have swum under me and been caught by my fin as she apologised for catching me but I hadn’t noticed.

Kurt passed me the smb and I clipped the housing back onto its shorter leash so it wouldn’t bang on the rocks as we got out, he managed to get out on the slipway without any issues, I passed him the smb and his fins, took mine off and glanced up the slope to be hit with dread as my body had just noticed it was heavier than it should be, that was the worse short walk in a long time but after de-kitting and packing everything away it was great to end the dive with a coffee in the beautiful sunset.

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Apr 27, 2014

Dive Sites

Went out for a jaunt today looking at possible dive sites, knew there were a couple of small quarries near by and had to start somewhere.

Quarry Dive Site Exploration Map

Can’t reveal its exact location yet but the first place I found was down a few windy lanes and I didn’t take a photo of the gate which could give it away.

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The site looks large enough for a reasonable dive but it is obviously the depth, especially as there is a good layer of dead Algae and other particulate matter like most quarries. There was a lot of life at the edge of the water, tadpoles, larvae and newts but what isn’t clear is the layer of white on the bottom 18 or so inches of the overhanging trees round it but we are in Imerys country and it is most likely just dust from the china clay.

There is an easy entry point after squeezing through the gap in the hedge, could possibly be some cars in there as the ramp leads down from the road, there wasn’t any defined path around it and I didn’t try making a way through as to the left of the photo is a near vertical eroded earth bank face, and to the right more overgrown trees and scrub than any sane person would try and get through, especially with dive gear.

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As can be seen on the map there is another site a short distance away between the paths to the SW, so after a jolly ramble down the hidden footpath and chatting to a local over his garden gate, where I was mauled by his 3 dogs, my hands were lucky to be intact after all the licking they did, I came across an ominous sign. This is a public footpath though so I found a way over the hedge to the right of the photo.

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The state of the entrance gave a clear indication as to the state of the ‘public’ footpath that had been closed off, and to the level of pollution that will occur over time as will be seen in a moment.

I jumped over the hedge and turned to give my friend a hand up but he was raring to get up the bank so I just went through the gap to find a beautiful woodland only a few years old.

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I started clambering through the thicket only to hear from behind ‘It’s this way, a path’, to which I replied ‘Maybe but my way is more fun’ and I promptly kept fighting my way through only to find the path he was walking on.

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We walked into an area that looked more like a dump than a public footpath, this is where I should name the land I was on but living where I do is only one company that owns all the land round here, Imerys and the fact they have done what you are about to see is shocking.

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This was probably the part that angered me the most, rusting oil drums full of… oil and they were breaking open as you can see.

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Now this may have taken a long time to get like this but it is clearly something that should now be cleaned up before it gets any worse.

It didn’t end there though, heavy duty plastic pipes may take thousands of years to break down, but at the base of a watershed with all the other things lying around this is just a disgusting excuse for a company to dump things for later on their land.

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The area these pipes are is where it shows a fairly large water body on the map, but it was clearly more of a pond and I couldn’t get through the hedge but could see plastic sheeting and all sorts in it.

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I just hope the other oil drums around the area haven’t already leaked because Imerys need to be shamed into making sure any area they own is kept clean of rubbish, not only to stop pollution but to stop locals from thinking it is OK to dump their waste their as well.

waste_dumped_07sound_proofing

The last one is rubber sound proofing, just thrown over the hedge and going to take an extremely long time to break down, when it does it will get carried away as small particles and will get in the food chain from the bottom feeders in the stream and further down in the river.

There were more oil drums in an old tin shed, couldn’t tell if they had anything in them and didn’t want to rock any of the drums just in case.

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There was also what looked like an old oil container for a house or business

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I am going to be contacting Cornwall Council over this as it is disgusting that not only no one has noticed they have closed a public right of way but also the state of it with rubbish piled everywhere. I am not going to turn my blog into a clean up your pollution and waste page, but every time I go exploring for possible dive sites if I find anything I will name and shame Imerys or who ever the land owner is because these things are just taking the piss when they are meant to be a lot more stringent on protecting the environment.

As for the first quarry as a dive site, when I get the chance to re-visit it with friends will post an update if it is worthy of looking for to get wet.

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