Sunday, 11 August 2013

Vobster Perch - Diving in a flooded quarry.

Great afternoon at Vobster Quay dive centre, nr Shepton Mallet, in Somerset.  I haven't dived here since 2003 when it first opened and I was testing a home-made underwater video camera housing with Ed, who had milled a wonderful and very robust aluminium case. The housing worked and I later I dived with it successfully in St Kilda in the outer Hebrides and got some great footage down to 50m before flooding it, and destroying the camera, at 6m whilst decompressing above the wreck of the Hispania in the sound of Mull later in the same week.

Jason and I explored the flooded quarry workings and man-made artificial wrecks and section of a small ship etc for about 40 minutes. I managed to knock my wide angle lens off the camera and watch it fall into a deep dark pit, but dropping into the gloom I managed to retrieve it from the silt in the very cold water down at 25m. The nicest bit of the dive was towards the end as we explored the flooded quarry slopes in the sunlit, and much warmer, shallow waters at the east end of the site away from the other divers and disturbed silt. The shallows were full of confident and strangely static shoals of perch, mainly young but some large specimens, and fleeting groups of nervous rudd and roach on who's offspring the many perch presumably feast.

Looked hard for the freshwater crayfish that live in the protected quarry, separated from the waterways and the invasive American signal crayfish, but failed to see any. It is small breeding programme, a very large quarry and white clawed crayfish are very small and so my ongoing quest to actually see any UK crayfish anywhere, ever, continues. 'I will find you, you can run but you can't hide', well they can and that's the problem! (Austropotamobius pallipes is an endangered[1] European freshwater crayfish, and the only species of crayfish native to the British Isles. 'white-clawed crayfish' - wikipedia)

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