29 May 2006
Finally the weather was improving and our hopes of getting in some more diving were looking promising. Shaun’s boat ‘Redeemer’ had been booked by a group of divers who were going to have to travel a fair distance for a long weekend out of Penzance, but the weather forecast had forced them to cancel.
This was bad news for Shaun, but good news for us. He had managed to get a couple of people wanting to do some diving on Sunday, so we decided that we were going to tag along. The dives were going to be a drift dive over ‘The Bizzies’, a long reef system, and a return to the wreck of the Hera.
Low water slack was a few hours away, so our first dive was going to be a drift dive over a reef system called The Bizzies. We entered the water a couple of hundred metres up current of some of the larger pinnacles, then descended down the shot line to get ourselves sorted before flying off. Buoyancy sorted and off we went.
The Bizzies is a series of gullies, ridges and pinnacles, covered mainly with the soft coral Dead Man’s Fingers. There was also a large amount of the hard coral Sea Fans, the soft coral Red Fingers and the bryozoan ‘Ross Coral’. Between the corals were a large amount of Sea Cucumbers, Urchins, Sea Stars and Spiny Starfish. After ten minutes we all sent up our surface marker buoys so Shaun knew where we were and could follow. During the dive I came across three large Dogfish that were rather camera shy, but apart from loads of very small juvenile fish there wasn’t a lot of fish life.
The current was moving fairly quickly and I had to manoeuvre myself around some of the pinnacles as the current was hurling me towards them. Every now and then I found a little shelter in a gully or behind one of the pinnacles, trying to get a closer look, but even then it was a struggle to stay still. The tallest pinnacle was probably around 10m tall, rising up from the 25m sea bed, again covered in dead man’s fingers and red fingers. In some of the shallower parts, around 20m, there was quite a covering of kelp, which I didn’t expect. Kelp is usually a good hiding place for wrasse and pollack, but there wasn’t much around here. It wasn’t long before it was time to surface and join everyone else.
Return to the Hera
It had been about four months since I last dived the Hera and I was happy about diving it again so soon. This time I decided to take my video camera as well as the digital still camera. It’s fun jumping in with two cameras. The last time I dived the Hera I swam through part of the wreck near the bow. This time I wanted to see if it made good viewing. I also wanted to get some better close up shots of the jewel and plumose anemones that cover the ‘A’ frame.
We entered the water at slack on low tide. Shaun had dropped the shot right on the ‘A’ frame, the most distinctive part of the wreck standing about 5m proud of the 15m deep sea floor. I started off with a few shots of the anemones on the ‘A’ frame then set off with my video camera to do the swim through the wreck.
There are some huge Pollack around the ‘A’ frame and large Ballen Wrasse are found all over the wreck, including one unfortunate individual that looked like it had got too close to a boat propeller. I made my way to the swim-through and entered the larger opening. Inside there were a few Starfish and lots of small Pollack, Bib and Whiting, as well as the odd Dead Man’s Finger. There is nothing exciting inside and the exit is a little tight. I swam around outside looking at the sea bed with its smattering of tube worms before I decided on a return trip through the wreck. At any point within the swim-through you do get to see patches of light through holes or under the edge where the wreck meets the sea bed. Just after I exited the wreck I came across two other divers, so I showed them the entrance to the swim-through, then swam back around in the opposite direction.
All over the wreck there is a lot of fish life; Ballen or Cuckoo Wrasse, Pollack and Whiting. As I reached the ‘A’ frame again I got the still camera out and started to get some photos of the abundant anemones that cover it; Jewel Anemones in red, orange, yellow and green as well as orange, white and green Plumose Anemones. A photographers heaven.
As I neared the end of my dive I saw a Tompot Blenny watching me, so I got a shot of him too. After 75 minutes of a very enjoyable and successful dive I surfaced with a big smile.