Night Dive at the Silver Steps 03-08-2013

So last week Kernow divers organised a night dive, weather dependent of course, and 8 club members said they would go. It came to today (Saturday) and during the day for one reason or another 4 dropped out (and they missed a great dive) and so we were down to 4, Kurt had decided at 7pm that he was going to come and we had a nice little group. We met at the car park above Silver Steps on Pendennis point at 9.30 and chatted as we kitted up waiting for anyone else to join us.

The tide was going out, so we knew we would get a max depth of 6-7m if we were lucky and had to clamber over the rocks in the dark but sometimes with diving it isn’t the depth that is important but what you get to see and the company you are with. The vis was amazing for down this way, about 5m clearly with the decent torches and would probably have been a lot further in daylight, not a bad throw on them; basic outlines were clear at about 2-3m without any light.

I had decided to try my camera without the wide angle wet lens, mainly to see the difference of the casing of the lens casting a shadow over the subject and it not getting enough lighting.  I was quite pleased with the results but did find it harder to frame things and sometimes that meant they moved out of shot before I could snap them.

Plankton on the night dive.

There was a lot of plankton in the water and it was amazing to see all the little zoo-plankton darting about, can only imagine the life and death struggles and territory wars that they were having as we swam through them, I just hope I managed to break a few up and peace lasted for a brief time.

The main thing I noticed was the number of small crabs all over the kelp and seaweed, they were obviously up high to catch their food as it unsuspectingly drifted by but they were amazing little things, leech spider crabs I think I was told, and it didn’t matter where I looked they were there.

Leech Spider Crab out to feed on the night dive.

Leech spider crab just hanging in the breeze on the night dive.

So the plan was to leave the gully and swim to the left, toward some wreckage, look around the gullies and see what we could see, on the way out it was pretty calm but without the weight of the wet lens on my housing it was very buoyant and a couple of times during the dive it got caught around my neck as I was untangling weed from my legs. It was a bit freaky the first time, not because it strangled me, I actually didn’t notice that it was but I thought it had become disconnected and as I span around looking up to try and spot it it became tighter round my neck, then I noticed where it was and stopped, took a couple of deep breaths and unwrapped it, thinking to myself I won’t be doing that again but I did later.

Snakelock anemone and scorpion fish captured beautifully on the night dive.

I couldn’t help myself taking photos of more snakelock anemones, they are so pretty waving in the current, and if you gently touch one of the tentacles the others wrap themselves round your finger so fast, an amazing thing to see. I didn’t notice till I got home that this anemone had a small fish just next to it, a juvenile as I had seen a larger one at Little Fistral on the last night dive. If I had used the wide angle lens I would have probably zoomed further in and it would have been in shadow from the casing of the lens so wouldn’t have spotted it.

We got to the wreckage, not the boiler but something else they had headed for and I gave up trying to get shots of everyone as the light was too poor, definitely need some strobes soon, but we came across the resident John dory and he was so relaxed with us near him that he let me get fairly close to get these shots.

John Dory taken on the night dive.

john Dory full side view on the night dive.

I have a new found respect for these fish, when Kurt and I first saw one at Gyllyngvase a few weeks ago we thought it looked prehistoric but catching it at night shows just how beautiful they really are because the light reflects off their skin slightly iridescent, almost like you could see your reflection in it.

I did get many more photos of things but as always it is hard to choose what to put in, was great being with the guys though, everyone was spotting for each other and if they caught something interesting they would stay in position with their light on it, am pretty sure a few things managed to get into cover before we all got to see it.

On the way back I was paying close attention to my air, I was on 85 bar after my panic over my camera earlier and I was aware I am still using more air than I normally would with taking shots of as much as I can. The tide was on the turn and there was a little surge but then everyone just stopped and right below us was a shark like thing just lying there, probably hoping we hadn’t noticed it.

Bull huss Catshark taken at silver steps night dive.

The first photo was taken from about 2m away and I only had one torch lighting it from the side and the internal flash on the camera, it was so peaceful just lying there in the weed obviously waiting for something big enough to eat, and as I lowered myself slightly so I was hovering just above the seabed I took a few more photos of it, I will only post one more though as I know I have bored my friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ already.


I had managed to move in so my camera was about a foot away and I had to zoom out to get this shot but it shows how awesome they are to look at, and I said Thanks and waved as I left it to forage for its dinner. As I was moving away I saw a crab dart under some weed, I was getting way too excited nearing the end of this night dive and as I was getting used to the zoom on the camera thought I would carefully pull the weed back to snap him as well, he had clearly been in a fight and lost his claws.

Poor crab lost its claws fighting.

Thinking we were in the original gully Ben signaled for us to surface but we found we had come up one too early, I looked at my air again and saw I was down to 50 bar so stayed on the surface and swam over the reef keeping the guys in view all the time. Another great experience and an awesome reason that a night dive in Cornwall can bring many surprises, so lucky to live here.

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