<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RDD Dive Report - Skomer

Dive Report

Dives taken at Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm

Seals and Gannets

Blue skies, hot sunshine, clear blue water. We all love to dream of diving holidays in the Red Sea, the Maldives, the Great Barrier Reef and other scuba hot spots. But you'd have to go a long way to beat Grassholm, off our own Pembrokeshire coast, as ten members of our branch discovered one Sunday in June. More than 30,000 gannets wheeling in the blue sky overhead, puffins skipping erratically over the surface of the sea and scores of inquisitive seals on the rocks and in the water made it well worth the 11 mile bounce from Porthclais to get there.

pThe diving was excellent, with visibility of around six metres and a water temperature of 12°C. Narrow gullies, towering overhangs and plenty of life. My buddy and I lost count of the number of seals that joined us, nibbling our fins and regarding us with huge liquid eyes before swimming lazily away. Dog fish, lobsters, lots of big urchins, lion's mane jellyfish, fluorescing comb jellies, jewel anemones and wall-to-wall carpets of shimmering dead men's fingers made for a memorable day's diving. The grand finale was provided by a pod of harbour porpoises that joined us on our sunset trip back to Porthclais, rode the bow waves of the ribs and put on a fine display of synchronised swimming.

Yes, it is lovely to dive abroad from time to time. But it's as nice to stay at home!

Island Paradise

The first time ever I dived Skomer Island was on an overcast, grey and misty May morning. This was only my second year of diving in the sea, away from the safe confines of the pool where Mike and I completed all our initial dive training.

It was my first dive off a rigid hulled inflatable boat, or RIB, and I was a bit apprehensive in case I did something stupid and caused a problem for the others. However, I was also looking forward to the dive as not only was Skomer's north wall highly rated for its scenic qualities but our friend Paul had let me borrow his underwater camera. Watch out Jacques Cousteau, I thought, I'm on my way.

We rolled backwards from the RIB into 10 degrees of green water just a few metres from where the island's north face dropped into the depths. We went steadily down to around 30 metres, which was deeper than we'd intended, so decided we'd better come up a bit. As we ascended I gazed through the gloom, wondering what all the fuss was about. There was nothing at all to see, just thin pea soup with tiny particles floating in it. Then I turned round, and what I saw almost took my breath away. Straight in front of me was a living wall of red fan coral, big urchins, stunning white dead men's fingers, amethyst and ruby jewel anemones, daisy-like cup corals, crabs, lobster, cuckoo wrasse, curled up snoozing dog fish, and an amazing striped football jersey worm that wriggled past, just inches from my mask.

It was so beautiful, so fragile. And so asking to be photographed. I snapped away with my borrowed camera, completely forgetting the first rule of diving - look out for your buddy. So engrossed was I in this fantastic underwater other world that not only was I not monitoring Mike's air, I was hardly even bothering to monitor my own.

Suddenly, and all too soon, I felt a firm grasp on my elbow and saw a rather cross husband telling me it was time to go. Now. I checked his air. Oops. Slap my wrists!

Somewhat chastened I flopped like a beached whale back into the RIB but even while Mike grumbled at me I was already thinking about my beautiful photographs, planning to frame them and put them all round the house.

Only one came out. Six inches by four of green, with what may or may not have been somebody's head in the foreground. Jacques Cousteau has nothing to fear after all!

Jackie Williamson