Camas Torsa by Salen, Loch Sunart

Location of Camas Torsa in Google Maps

During a group trip to visit Mark and Ang Woombs at Loch Sunart in 2018 Barry and I were diving a site at Camas Torsa. It was late in the year and the visibility was really quite good, possibly 10m or more. As we were coming back towards the shore we got quite excited as we saw the outline of what appeared to be quite a substantial shipwreck looming out of the murk!

The lines loom in the darkness at about 14m depth, by Barry Kaye Sept 2019.

When we got closer we found that the shape of the ship was an optical illusion caused by a long line of rope strung horizontally, with a few more vertical ropes either up to buoys or hanging down in the water. We investigated for a little while and found the ropes were densely covered with life – mainly tunicates (sea squirts).

Photo of some of the diverse life on the lines by Lewis Bambury, Nov 2019.

When we returned to Sunart this year, at the start of November, we decided to have better look at this habitat. After a little prodding from Mark we were keen to do some surveying this year and this site seemed to be a particularly interesting one to do.

We believe that it may have been part of a shellfish farm – there were no shellfish visible on the ropes that we looked at but nearby on the sea bed there were the discarded shells of some commercial species. I did notice that there was a buoy visible at the surface in the area of the ropes but most of the buoys supporting the ropes in mid water were below the surface, suggesting that eventually the ropes will fall to the seabed as the buoys degrade, the weight of life on the ropes grows, and any drag from tidal currents pulls them down.

Species list

Seaweeds

Saccharina latissima (Sugar kelp) (C)
Laminaria hyperborea (C)?
Pterothamnion plumula (Bushy feather weed) (C)
Filamentous red altenatively branched (Polysiphonia?) (C)
Chorda filum (O)

Bryozoans

Electra pilosa (C - on kelp)

Cnidarians

Protanthea simplex (R)
Sagartiogeton laceratus (R)
Alcyonium sp. (R)
Obelia sp. (C on kelp)
Halecium halecinum (C, often very dirty)

Worms

Sabella pavonina (O)
Lineus longissimus (R)
Epolumnia nebulosa (O)
Spirorbis spirorbis (C on kelp)
Pomatoceros sp. (P on stone embedded in kelp)

Crustacea

Necora puber (velvet swimming crab) (F)

Echinoderms

Antedon bifida (feather star) (F)
Ophiothrix fragilis (common brittle star) (F)
Psammechinus miliaris (shore urchin) (O)

Tunicates

Ciona intestinalis (A)
Ascidia mentula (O)
Diplosoma listerianum (F)
Corella parallelogramma (C)
Ascidia aspersa (C)

Fish

Gobiusculus flavescens (two-spotted gobie) (O)

No Sponges or Molluscs were observed

Lewis Bambury
November 2019

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