Roa Island Dive; Aug 11th

August 14th, 2012

Tree like sponge photographed in the Piel Channel, possibly Rhapsailia (hispida)? After watching a dredger make its way up the channel towards Barrow we really didn’t expect much from this dive, but the weather was good, and we hoped that there would be some visibility… As it turned out the dive was very pleasant, with between 50cm and 1m visibility – in fact good enough for a few photographs!

Ron confirmed that there was kelp (Laminaria hyperborea) in the channel at a depth of between 3 and 5m (below LWM) – the individuals are very stunted (about 1m in length) perhaps due to the lack of light, though poor footings for their holdfasts may mean that larger individuals will get washed away! There is rather more red algae, but sessile animals dominate the ecosystem, with a diverse range of sponges and hydrozoa. On these are a range of grazing nudibranchs.

A full list of species found at this site can be found on our surveys page:

Piel Channel marine life survey

Above right: Tree like sponge approx 30cm tall, photographed in the Piel Channel, possibly Rhapsailia hispida?

Thanks to Ron for organising the dive!

Posted in dive trips

Dive Saturday 14th. July 2012

July 18th, 2012

Almost perfect conditions for our latest visit to Roa Island to dive in the Piel Channel.  Underwater visibility was about two metres max. but the bright sunlight passing through the water made for a vibrant and very colourful dive.  Under these conditions the quantity and diversity of marine life which makes this location so special is plain to see.  The depth range of the dive was about three to six metres below low water neaps, the substrate mainly boulders and cobbles with muddy patches between.  Many species of seaweeds covered the boulders, blue mussels and periwinkles were everywhere.  Butterfish, shanny and corkwing wrasse were also spotted.  In just a small area of about half a square metre on the sponge bed four species of sponge, five species of crab, anemones, worms, nudibranchs, hydroids and common starfish were recorded. After recording common brittle stars on the lower shore on a shore walk a couple of weeks before it was hoped the we might find some on the dive, but unfortunately this was’nt to be.  We look forward to our next visit on saturday 11th. August.

Posted in dive trips

Visit to Loch Creran

May 15th, 2012

Seven members of the group were joined by four members of Preston SAC on a long weekend trip based at Tralee bay about ten miles north of Oban.  Weather and conditions were good giving us the opportunity to explore the surrounding coast and hills and enabling us to dive a number of sites in Loch Creran including Creagan Inn Bay, the narrows between the inner and outer basins, a rocky reef on the south side of the inner basin and the serpulid worm reefs.  A long drift dive on the flood tide through the narrows was described as at the very least exhilarating.  Lewis spotted a cling fish on one dive but was unable to stop in the current to photograph it and Ron found a flame shell in the narrows just after using the last frame on the film.  The final dive of the weekend was from the old railway pier at Kentallon on Loch Linnhe. A swim of about 200 metres from the pier out into the loch brings you to a quite spectacular vertical wall with an abundance of marine life, a great dive to end a well organised weekend, thanks to Gordon.

Posted in dive trips

Lochaline, Easter 2012

May 3rd, 2012

Lochaline has become firm favourite and a regular Easter venue for members of the group over the last few years. This year six members and a friend spent four very pleasant days in this wonderful location.  Beautiful coastal scenery, excellent walking, places to visit, and the diving is also very good as well.  A walk along the Western shore of the loch passes a large silica sand mine, the white sand spilling out onto the shore creating what could  easily be mistaken for tropical coral sand beaches. Sand from the mine was used to produce high quality optical lenses for gun sights etc. during WW2.  Continuing along the loch there are a number of quite interesting geological features and on the loch itself many different species of water bird can be seen, Grey herons around every corner.  One member of our party out kayaking on the loch was fortunate enough to have a very close encounter with otters, the rest of us were green with envy.  Follow the track around the head of the loch and along the eastern shore to where a small stream tumbles down a small steep valley.  Search amongst the boulders and stones in the stream bed and you will be sure to find fossil oysters called Gryphaea that lived on the muddy shoreline of a tropical sea 200 million years ago.  Most of the diving  was from the easy access Hotel beach which leads gently down over the white sand with lots of tube anemones, Cerianthus lloydii to the top of the Lochaline wall,  an almost vertical rock face plunging down to great depths, well beyond the reach of most sport divers. Spectacular diving with a tremendous diversity of life, we have recorded more than 120 different species on the wall  to date with a new sighting this visit of a cuttle fish, Sepia officinalis to be added. There is still much more to be be recorded on future visits. There was also a dive on the shallow sea grass beds at Rubha-nan-Sornagon, Loch Linnhe, plenty of interesting marine life, notably lots of sea potatoes, Echinocardium pennatifidum.  Overall an excellent few days, with thanks to organisers, Barry & Jo, and the good weather was an added bonus.


Posted in dive trips

The Piel Channel Recording & Survey Project

March 19th, 2012

Work by the Lancashire MCS group recording the Piel Channel is now available online. The work dates from the late 1980’s to the present day.

Thanks to Ron for bringing the data together for this; the full report is available through the link below:

Piel Channel survey

Posted in dive trips, Marine science update

Shore Walk Roa Island 30th August 2011

August 26th, 2011

This will be an informal event looking for and recording some of the creatures that can be found on the shore at Roa Island. Low tide is at 7:30pm and will be particularly low – at 0.5 metres it should expose more of the shore than most tides which means that many creatures that are often only seen by divers may be found. There are also some creatures that divers don’t normally see that are easier to find when the tide has gone out.

Suitable for all ages; children must be supervised by a responsible adult. Meet at the top of the Jetty next to the Lifeboat Station @6:15pm – map reference SD 232648.

What to bring?

Must haves –

  • Wellies, sandals or other shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and probably a little muddy;
  • The same applies to your clothes; also bring some warmer clothes – the shore is exposed so can feel chillier than places on shore.

Optional extras –

  • A towel and a change of clothes just in case may be a good idea;
  • Shallow trays or a bucket to put creatures in to study (but be sure to put them back carefully exactly where you find them!);
  • A net;
  • A camera – but be aware that sea water and cameras do not mix well, if you bring a camera and have a waterproof housing then please use it and in any case take extreme care on the shore not to drop (or even put) your camera into water;
  • A torch – preferrably a waterproof one, or another good option would be a head torch (sunset is @8:10pm, dusk 8:45pm).

Anything that you bring or wear will be at your own risk.

If anyone wants to car share please let me know and I will try to arrange to meet at the westbound layby on the A65 about half a mile east of junction 36 of the M6 – map ref SD 541821. But note that timing will be a little tight for some of us to get away from work and get to the meeting point in time and that I will NOT do this unless it is requested and I can arrange to leave in time to get to Roa Island.

Contact: Lewis Bambury

Tel: 01524 414318
Mob: 07798 707318

Posted in Conservation, dive trips

A wall of life

August 4th, 2011

Over the last few years we have built up a species list for the Hotel beach and wall at Lochaline. Most of the work has been done by Ron Crosby, with occasional contributions from other embers of the group. This year, however, we are glad to welcome contributions from Ron Ates and Godfried van Moorsel, both based in the Netherlands. Their additions (and corrections) take our list up to 122 named species – not bad at all for 100m stretch of coastline! Mind you the coastline is very conducive to diving, with easy access over a gently sloping beach, leading to a near vertical drop down to 80+m. This makes a wide range of habitats readily accessible to the diver – and reminds us about how much there is in the seas around our coasts.

Below is a quick breakdown table of the life recorded, for a full species list see our survey page:

Group No. Species
Algae 15
Sponges 8
Cnidarians 20
Worms 13
Bryozoans 4
Crustaceans 8
Brachiopods 1
Molluscs 19
Echinoderms 8
Tunicates 9
Fish 17

Posted in Conservation, dive trips

Loch Creran

May 11th, 2011

Thanks to Gordon for organising an excellent dive weekend based at Tralee Bay (see map) near Oban last weekend (6th-9th May 2011). Eleven of us from the MCS and Preston Sub-Aqua Club enjoyed some spectacular dives.

Brittlestars at Loch CreranThese including a fast run through the Creran Narrows, which Jo and I followed with a linked dive into an eddy pool by the North West shore, to get some better photos of the brittle star beds there, (it never ceases to amaze me how much colour there is in these beds, which appear from a distance to be rather unpleasant grey cob-webby places) before a rather hard swim back on the surface.

We also visited the wormery – where the serpulid reefs seem more substantial than ever – less substantial reefs are also to be found in the inner basin of Loch Creran.

Thornbacked ray at Galanach.Our final dive though was at Galanach, where I wanted to visit the sea-pen beds, with the intention of getting some better photos. As a rather nice bonus, however, I saw a large thorn-backed ray, which hung about long enough for me to get his mug-shot!

We also managed a small amount of microscopy, looking at a single plankton sample from Galanach. Unfortunately the phytoplankton have now disappeared (they formed a substantial component of the samples at Lochaline last month), though there is a large amount of zoo-plankton, with copepods and barnacle larvae (cyprids) as the major component.

Posted in dive trips

Mid May dive weekend

May 27th, 2010

A  dive weekend held in conjunction with Preston SAC  to the sea lochs north of Oban was held over the third weekend in May. Diving in the Kerrera Sound and Loch Creran was quite interesting with the usual tremendous diversity of marine life although it was quite gloomy with underwater visibility down to only a couple of metres at best. A dive on the underwater cliff about 200 metres  to the west of the old railway pier at Kentallon inLoch Linnhe was the highlight of the trip. Underwater visibility was at least five metres at the top of the the wall which plunges down in a series of steps to approx. 35 metres deep. The wall is covered in a profusion of life, with vast numbers of peacock  worms Sabella pavonina & sea squirts,  Ciona intestinalis. This was an excellent dive to conclude the weekend. Many thanks to Gordon Fletcher for organising the trip to co-incide brilliant sunny weather.

Posted in dive trips

Orkney trip

May 24th, 2010

Marine life in Scapa Flow.

Prior to this trip I had thought that diving the Scapa Flow wrecks would be a bit dull – large piles of scrap iron in the deep dark cold of Scapa Flow. I was wrong. The wrecks are covered in life – thick fields of plumose anemones, sea-firs, colourful feather stars and fish adorn the hulls, which are coloured with orange rust and pink encrusting algae. And in amidst it all, you catch the occasional glimpse of ordnance, or the the viewing slot of the armoured bridge, just to remind you that you are, after all, diving a state of the art killing machine from the early years of the last century…

Thanks to Lewis Bambury for organising and inviting us along on this trip, and to all the members of Lunesdale Sub-Aqua Club who made us feel so welcome!

More information on the wrecks in Scapa Flow from Scapa Map

Posted in dive trips