Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Scenic Sites III

Wave Shape

From Burrow Head to Port Castle Bay (Sites H. To N.)

There are a number of named dive sites on the stretch of coast from Burrow Head in the South to Port Castle Bay in the north. Here, where the craggy cliffs meet the sea, they form finger like ridges of rock which stretch out in a SW direction down to a depth of 18 metres. At this depth the mixed ground seabed shelves away to 30 metres where it hits an offshore reef, (Sandbar Reef) rising to 10 metres in depth and running parallel to the coast.

On the seaward side of this reef barren tide driven sand bars have built up. This outer reef provides protection for the coast and the channel in between is subject to strong tidal streams.

All these factors create a region of clear waters, which shows wide bio-diversity. The finger like ridges are covered with a variety of short and long animal turf including  elephant’s ear, hedgehog, golf ball and encrusting sponges, dead man’s fingers, plumose anemones, dahlia anemones, hydroids and sea squirts. Candy striped flat worms and small bluish northern star fish are in abundance as are burrowing anemones in the sandy troughs between the ridges. Cuckoo, ballan and goldsinney wrasse are common as are pollack and small-spotted catsharks. The area is also a haven for lobsters and crabs.

The club has used large scale O.S. maps of the coast to identify promising dive sites  which are approximately 300 metres apart. In general the same topography is found at each site, but there are minor variations which are also reflected in the sea life present. For example one site might have a greater concentration of anemones whilst another is notable for the profusion of candy striped flat worms. However, the clear water and bio-diversity of the whole area make this an exceptionally good area for scenic diving and underwater photography.

H.  Ducker Rock – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

The massive ridges here are covered with kelp forest at the shallower depths and red seaweeds in the deeper parts. Large numbers of Northern Starfish and anemones are to be found here.

I.  Stank – Depth 10 to 20m

This site is similar to nearby Slockenglass in that there is a dense kelp forest on top of the bedrock ridges, here stretching down to 14m. Here too the fronds are heavily covered in sea mats giving them a ragged, diseased appearance and amongst the kelp are patches of brown sea oak (halidrys siliquosa)

Beneath this zone the seabed at 15m is covered with huge angular slabs of rock which seem to have toppled on top of each other. (These are the very same slabs which at Slockenglass stand vertical but here, nearer to where the conflicting tidal streams form eddies, have weakened and fallen) As a result the sea life here is different. The sponges and animal turf are here only occasional, clinging to the edges of the slabs while the upward facing flat surfaces are covered in red seaweeds such as Cocks Comb, Red Rags and Siphoned Feather Weed. The crevices under the slabs are home to crab, conger and ling whilst the usual Ballan, Cuckoo and Goldsinny Wrasses swim amongst the weeds

Where the rock slabs and boulders end at around 16m a pebbly gravel seabed begins. Here the larger rocks are covered with antenna hydroids and hornwrack which can cope with the strong tidal streams and eddies which develop in this flattened area.

J.  Slockenglass – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

Slockenglass is a particularly scenic site situated near the tip of the Machars  peninsula in Luce Bay. The rocky spurs which stretch out from the cliffs here are covered in dense kelp forest (laminaria hyperborea) between 8m and 11m, underneath which are the usual red seaweeds. The kelp fronds themselves are heavily coated in both sea mats and to a lesser extent frosty sea mats and the kelp stipes in white claw sea moss. Common sea urchins graze this zone and sea hares have been found here during 2011.

The rocky ridges become huge rectilinear slabs between 11m and 14m with narrow gullies between them. The sides of these slabs are heavily covered in sponges, particularly the large grey Elephant Hide Sponges, however Golf Ball, Yellow Hedgehog, Shredded Carrot, Volcano, Chimney, Branching and Black Tar are all to be found here too. Amongst the sponges are Light bulb and Sponge sea squirts along with small lilac coloured Northern Starfish, Common Starfish and Bloody Henrys. Ballan Wrasse and Goldsinny Wrasse are common and inquisitive and both female and the more colourful male Cuckoo Wrasse are in residence here.

Swimming around these rock slabs there is a lot to see and the often clear water make this a good area for photographers. The slabs also give protection from the strong tidal streams which run along the coast here outside of slack water.

The seabed in this area lies between 13m and 15m and is a mixed ground with scattered large boulders. This is the area to find crabs and lobsters and it is a popular potting site for local fishermen (The buoys on their strings of pots are helpful in assessing the water clarity and the speed of the tidal stream). Underneath the boulders you can also find the occasional Ling and Conger Eel hiding in holes as well as Greater Pipefish, Leopard Spotted Gobies and Tompot Blennies. The boulders themselves are covered in filamentous red seaweeds and scattered tall animal turf such as Finger Bryozoans, Dead Men’s Fingers and Hornwrack.

Beyond this zone lies a belt of tide driven sand, which has covered the bedrock and stretches away down beyond 20m. Occasional patches of bedrock protrude, covered in Pink encrusting algae and Feather Stars. In September 2011 this sandy surface was very heavily covered with large numbers of small Common Dragonets.

K.  Rock of Providence – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

The ridges here are less pronounced with more boulders evident. Sand once again has washed into the gullies. There are numerous different wrasses in this area as well as dogfish.

L.  Dykefoot – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

The ridges here are larger and more rounded with sand pushed into the gullies in between. There is a wide variety of sea life to be found on this site as can be seen from the form.

M.  Blockan Hole – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

The ridges here do not project out so far and the seabed is of gently sloping gravel covered with a kelp park and burrowing anemones. Dog fish are common in this area.

N.  Carghidown – Depth 10 to 20mSeasearch Report

This site is dominated by long, high rocky ridges with kelp forest on top and deep gullies between them. The rocky walls are covered with a variety of colourful sponges.

Video from Burrowhead

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