Jun 17, 2015

Port Mellon

Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers

Port Mellon was an interesting and exciting dive, exciting as it was my first dive this year and hence the lack of blog posts which I can only apologise for but personal life got in the way, and interesting as it was with Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers and Project AWARE through Kernow Divers. As always in Cornwall it was a beautiful spot, a small village South of Mevagissey with a fairly large shallow harbour at about 8-9m at high tide as you swim out. I didn’t get to explore the village and am sure it had more to it but an easy access car park, an easy access dive spot and a pub with decent ale and hot food is enough for me, next time will try the food but what they brought out for some of the guests looked worth a try. Can see it being busy later in the summer as it is within walking distance of Mevagissey and the narrow lanes through Meva are a nightmare out of season without tourists.

Port Mellon

While I was nervous being my first dive of the year it was great to have so many Kernow Divers club members there who I had dived with before, and being budded up with Rob of Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers was awesome as I am sure he is on the same wavelength as me about the environment and our role in it, I keep meaning to invite him out for a beer one evening. There was a lot of organising to do and when everyone got in the water and headed off on the left side of the harbour, I jumped in gingerly and set about sorting my camera out so it was one less thing to worry about as I went through setting my buoyancy and checking my regs and waiting for rob, it was only about 2m off the slipway but it felt great being back in the water and ready to go.

Rob

When I had finished faffing around I noticed that the area around the slipway was strangely clear of any debris, in fact in the first few minutes, unlike other dive spots, the only thing I saw man made was this strange brick with an engraving on it.

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Then as Rob, the girls and I were bimbling along, with no sign of any rubbish anywhere I saw my first fish and it was this big (                                                            ) honest.

First fish in months

I know it isn’t a very good shot (but it was my first fish in ages so while I am stoked about seeing it, you all have to suffer) and that there seems to be an issue with fogging in my wet lens, it hasn’t been touched in such a long time I am unsure if the seal is OK in it, but have found out in that time that while it was a cheap second hand lens, it isn’t serviceable as such, shame on Epoque and a good reason to look elsewhere when I get the chance to buy another.

As all you divers know each time we get in the water it is such a buzz, and a privilege to explore the environment we love so much, and I am still buzzing now, in fact the only thing stopping me diving again is having to wait to get my tank filled, but it was worth it. As we bimbled along the reef there were so many nooks to look in but for some reason the first 20 mins of the dive was barren of very much but Seaweed and other rock clingy life forms (yes that is now a technical term), and there was no rubbish, it was almost as if the mermaids had come in and picked the place clean before we got there, does Cornwall Council employ mermaids to litter pick at the dead of night??

Saying that, Rob did manage to find a submarine periscope, that is his story and he is sticking to it.

marine litter

As with any diver I just needed confidence in my kit and the skills I had learned, over the previous 6 months I had been practicing my breathing, mentally running through the various skills we learn as students and getting more nervous as each day had gone by and I hadn’t dived, yet nerves are a good thing, so is mentally practicing the skills we use as we get wet. I have meditated for years, breathing through my diaphragm instead of upper chest but didn’t think about putting the 2 together till I saw a video that explained the importance of breathing and conserving air while breathing, non divers won’t really get that, but I was expecting a 40-45 min dive max and was pleasantly surprised for Rob to tell me we had a 63 minute dive. If I had worn my 7mm beaver semi I would have been warmer at the end of the dive and wish I had, I still had 150 bar left when we encountered what I first thought was a plastic bag floating near the surface, so being the first piece of rubbish I saw, made a bee-line for it only to find it wasn’t a plastic bag but..

Barrel Jellyfish 1

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A Barrel Jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo), having seen them on other peoples photos, and being jealous that I hadn’t been diving that day, it was the first I had seen. It moved through the water with such grace, I am 6ft and it was about the top of my head to my knees long, it wasn’t scary though as I knew they didn’t really sting you like others, it was a privilege to finally see one close up, but that is then where my air consumption went out of the window, after swimming around it a couple of times to get as many shots as I could, like you do, I noticed in that few minutes I had used 40 bar, so back to the reef for a few minutes with Rob to keep looking for the elusive litter and then it would be time to head back.

As we were looking up one of the gullies, Rob pointed out a Dog Fish (Scyliorhinus canicula) laying peacefully on the bottom and I approached carefully to photograph it, but it still decided I was a threat and moved, I was careful to follow it at a distance, watching behind me to keep an eye on where Rob was and he was OK.

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If you look carefully at the photos you can see how there is no visible debris like a lot of other UK, and Cornish dive sites and it was great to see, but obviously the smaller particulate pieces of plastic and debris would still be diffused within the water column, the great thing about a lack of debris was that the rock clinging Kelp had not been disturbed and I saw this beautiful scene as I looked up on my exit from the gully with the dogfish.

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There was a lot of life around though, someone else in the group got a photo of a blennie, I also saw a wrasse (I think, we call most fish we can’t identify Wrasse here lol) that was huge

 Wrasse

and lots of smaller Jellyfish, fish and more, it is just one of those places you would have to explore yourself to see, especially with the few sea grass clumps we saw, it would make for an interesting exploration dive of the whole harbour area, especially out to the right of the harbour where there is a rock outcrop that looks to go a hundred or so metres out to sea.

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We all had an enjoyable dive but it was the biggest fail as a Dive Against debris goes, but a pleasant one at Port Mellon, Rachel said the litter was only about 1.7kg, a massive drop on what has been collected elsewhere. A look into the currents outside of the harbour would probably show that it is just in that sweet spot protected from currents with the headland further South, and why Mevagissey gets caught with more rubbish that extra half mile or so North as the circulatory currents sweep back inland.

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So for my first dive after a bit of a break I am grateful to Colin, Keith and Ollie of Kernow divers for your support and encouragement to just get back in, Charlie for her gorgeous brownies, and to Rob and Rachel for organising yet another beautiful and meaningful dive with Dive Against Debris UK Volunteers at Port Mellon, and The Rising Sun for such great beer for after.

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