Saturday, 20 July 2013

Diving the Manacles - Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall UK

A wonderful 3 days diving on the Manacles. We dived the major reef drop offs on the Vase, Penwin and Raglan reefs, a drift and 2 wrecks. Great visibility underwater, a pod of bottle-nose dolphins and wonderful sunshine. The underwater scenery on the Manacles is fantastic with the nooks and crannies hiding all manner of life from squat lobsters, prawns, blennies and shore crabs to the large spider crabs and conger eels. The kelp beds above 12 meters always provide lots to look at as you decompress with the fronds hiding nudibranchs and small crustaceans and the forest of stalks a thoroughfare for the wrasse that dominate with the Cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus) posing and challenging in their bright colours and the ever inquisitive Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) seeing if you've stirred up anything to eat. The wrecks are alive with shoals of bib, congers peek out from the metal plates and rusting boilers and the sea floor wriggles with tube worms, scallops, urchins, brittle stars and other starfish. All of the exposed surfaces in the tidal areas are covered in filter feeders with the walls coated in jewel, plumose and other anemones, dead man's fingers, soft corals and sponges waiting for slack to pass and the race of nutrients to pick up as we end our dives. Toby, vigilant as ever, spotted an impressive angler fish (Lophius piscatorius) on the seabed beyond the boilers on the 23m deep wreck of the Epsilon. He was positioning himself to photograph the carpets of brittle stars and nearly put his hand on the angler fish, the camouflage is astonishing with the seaweed shaped flanges and mottled skin reminiscent of the wobbegong sharks of warmer seas. It's only having seen and recognised it that you can see it at all, lost against the surrounding seabed all but invisible except for the sharply defined and all seeing golden eye above the innocent looking lure and the wide subtle grin lined with pin sharp teeth.

Wreck of Epsilon:
274 nhp; triple expansion engines. The Dutch steamship Epsilon was on her way from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam, when she struck a mine and sank in the English Channel on January 31st, 1917. The mine was from the german minelaying submarine UC-17. The Epsilon was one of the three ships of the ”Vrachtvaart Maatschappij Bothnia” that were lost during WWI.

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