28th – 31st August 2020
A group of nine divers headed down to Cornwall to spend the August bank holiday diving at the superb Porthkerris dive centre. The Bear Grylls wannabe member of the group opted for sleeping in his car at the Porthkerris campsite itself. The rest of the group stayed at Holifield Hostel in Gweek, which provided ideal, homely accommodation for a large group, and more importantly in walking distance of a pub.
Some of the group arrived earlier in the week and took advantage of the excellent shore diving from Porthkerris where a great variety of marine life can be seen. The highlights included a greater pipefish and rumoured glimpses of an octopus. A certain member of the group also had the opportunity to demonstrate his shark wrestling skills on the local dogfish! Disclaimer: no sharks were harmed during this trip.
On the first day of diving on the boats, we were greeted by the mellow-vibed skipper Dave aboard the Celtic Kitten. Dave made sure we boarded safely from the beach and gave informative dive plans, as ever seeming to enjoy the day as much as the divers! We spent the morning exploring some local rocky reefs on the Manacles with a dive at the wreck of the Volnay during the afternoon. The sea temperature was surprisingly cold for this time of the year at 13°C leaving the wetsuit divers in the club a little on the chilly side! Nonetheless a variety of marine life was spotted including a number of nudibranchs, huge seven-armed starfish, common cuttlefish, carpets of feather stars and a number of fish species including scad, rock cook, ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, three-bearded rockling, poor cod and conger eel! The days diving was ended with an outing to the Black Swan pub in Gweek, which provided excellent food, plenty of drink and stimulating conversation.
The second and third days were spent exploring the local reefs and the wreck of the Mohegan featured in the itinerary. The deeper reefs were particularly exciting with the rock surfaces being festooned with striking colonies of pink sea fan and ross coral supporting a wealth of wildlife. The nationally scarce and cryptic pink sea fan nudibranch was identified on most sea fans scrutinised, with the egg masses usually giving them away. The even rarer pink sea fan anemone was also observed on several sea fans. Other interesting invertebrates included large numbers of European spiny lobster, carpets of jewel anemones, false cowrie and red sea fingers. Dogfish where seen at the deeper depths allowing that certain individual to further hone their shark wrangling skills. Other fish species spotted included ling, streaked gurnard, tompot blenny, two spotted goby and bib. Some of the group were even lucky enough to be joined by a pod of common dolphins (calf included) on the boat ride back from their dive site.
Sunday’s diving was ended with wood-fired pizza on the beach collected from Roskillys and ice cream for the lucky few who got to collect the food! This preceded a night dive from the beach at Porthkerris where a number of common cuttlefish were seen hanging out in the shallows hovering around like aliens. A 50cm ragworm swimming near the surface further added to the sci-fi atmosphere of the dive. Shore support apparently grew tired of keeping a watchful eye on the divers and instead resorted to finding small shannys lurking in rock crevices onshore to much excitement!
All in all an excellent trip with spectacular marine life, scenic both beneath the waves and top-side and great company, making a very enjoyable weekend.