Incredible Images From Basking Shark Scotland

This is how I easily get absorbed in twitter!

Have a look around their website for more information and find out how to book your trip of a lifetime!

Basking shark & wildlife adventure boat tours from Oban, Scotland

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Loch Fyne Diving

I found this article while browsing the internet, it has been copied to a site from Dive magazine, so I looked up  Mike Clark and found not only his blog, but his beautiful photography; the online home of professional underwater photographer Mike Clark

and his book Wrecks and Reefs of Southeast Scotland

If you would like a signed copy, contact Mike.

“Some folk in Scotland sing Its A Long Way to Inverary, but I was beyond that, and now singing Its A Long Way To Tarbert. It may not scan as well, but it was true.

After three hours of driving along narrow Lochside roads, I had already passed Inverary on Loch Fynes west side. It would be another 20 minutes before I arrived in the beautiful fishing port and village of Tarbert.

It is guarded by the remains of the great Bruces Castle, and a natural bay and inlet form a beautifully scenic harbour. I had never been this far down the loch before and the diving would all be new to me, as it generally is to the brave adventurers who make it to this point.

I met Malcolm Goodchild, owner of the weekends dive charter Little Blue. As the other divers enjoyed their breakfast at the B&B, I had my cylinders topped up on the dive centres compressor.

I started to feel guilty about my earlier complaints as I realised that the other divers had driven for more than six hours to get here.

This was the groups third trip in a row to see Malcolm, proof to me that the diving would be worth the effort.

The Garden
Topside, Loch Fyne is beautiful along its entire length. Its the second longest sea loch in Scotland. I had dived in the loch on a number of occasions, though never this near its mouth, and encountered a number of strange creatures such as spiny spider crabs and nudibranchs.

A force 8 gale was forecast and while this would not concern divers at the more sheltered sites further up the loch, it could affect us here. Skipper Malcolm was therefore careful with his initial site selection.

The Garden is situated on the eastern side of the loch. As this is the more exposed, it was decided to dive it before the heavy weather came in.

The sky was clear and the vis good as I dropped into the green water and descended to the top of the reef at around 15m.

Initially this was plain old rock covered in brittlestars, but sand chutes led the way over the edge of the reef, and soon I was dropping down the steep slope to 30m, where it got dark.

The slope also eased up here, and a sandy seabed extended as far as I could see in the 7m vis, still dropping away but at a much gentler rate.

I started noticing life everywhere.

Large groups of up to 12 squat lobsters lined the entrance of every crack and crevice. They were so packed in that they couldnt move away when

I photographed them. It must be the only area of overcrowding in and around Loch Fyne.

On the sea floor, my torchlight picked out the eyes of scallops partially buried in the sand. These and a few big edible crabs would make up the staple diet of the visiting divers from Hartlepool for the next few days.

I started my ascent and sparkling green Devonshire cup corals made interesting subjects. But it was when I got back up to around 18m that the most impressive feature of the dive presented itself.

Initially I must have landed on the only piece of barren rock down here, as a dense covering of dead mens fingers covered the wall, before being displaced with colonies of massive plumose anemones. I had never seen these animals grow to such a size before! They were easily more than half a metre tall, vast pillars of orange and white forming a forest over the top of the reef.

Schools of small pollack darted between them, but sheltering in the forest were big old edible crabs, butterfish and the aggressive velvet-backed swimming crabs, whose red eyes glared from their cover as they tried to make their escape. I used up the remainder of my film on the top of the pinnacle around 10m down.

We had got off to a great start, but having watched the CD-Rom Malcolm had sent me, I was itching to get onto one  of the little puffer wrecks I had seen on my PC screen. After returning to Tarbert and looking around the ruins of Robert the Bruces castle, we were off to dive the Arran III.

Arran III

I had often thought about diving this wreck from the shore. Once at the site the reality of the task dawned on me, and I was glad that I hadnt bothered.

It looked a long way, though dedicated divers do make the trek. Little Blue makes the dive a lot more comfortable.

Falling over the stern, I followed the instructions given by Malcolm. I landed at the stern of Arran III at around 12m. This is the only section of the wreck that remains intact.

This Clyde puffer, or small steamboat, had run straight onto the rocks on the first day of 1932. As you would expect, the bows are completely broken up in 5m. There is still a lot of wreckage to explore, even if it is covered with kelp in the summer months.

Finning aft to the stern, the wreck gradually takes shape and scenic spars coated with red seaweed rise like clutching fingers. Lifeboat davits and mooring bollards are clearly visible.

Beneath the stern, a group of massive edible crabs was noted and it was good hunting for the Hartlepool club.

Back at the stern, I hung about and tried to capture an image of the massive pollack that patrol the area. They would shoot off when my flash fired, only to circle and take up the same holding position. There is also a big conger eel on the wreck that Malcolm called Curly.

I didnt find him, but other divers did.

He was out posing for pictures.

The Arran III, like all Clyde puffers, made deliveries to all the Clyde ports. Many of these, such as those in Loch Fyne, were in extremely remote areas where no road communication was possible. She met her fate while returning from Lochgilphead with empty beer bottles for recycling.

A storm with severe south-easterly gales blew up, and from that direction the winds could run right up the loch.

As Arran III approached Tarbert, she became more exposed to the fury of the storm. In the terrible conditions at 6.30am that Hogmanay, she ran aground on a reef east of Baltimore island. Badly holed, she sank on the next high tide. Her cargo was salvaged.

Margaret Niven

Next morning,  after emptying a couple of beer bottles the night before, I was glad of the civilised 9.30 start. The poor weather had arrived but was doing little to affect the sea state, as it was all coming from a westerly direction.

Very close to the resting place of the Arran III lies another puffer, and it was to be my favourite dive of the weekend.

I was first in and onto the Margaret Niven, which is a great benefit if you want to photograph it. The shotline was attached to the prow in just over 28m. The green water had turned black but my eyes soon adjusted to the gloom. Vis was a respectable 6m but it soon shrank to 3m once the bottom-huggers arrived.

The whole bow section lay before me, rising a couple of metres out of the muddy seabed. First there was a set of large winches and bollards. After that, the hold opened and the cargo of road chippings was clearly visible.

The Clyde puffers were working to put themselves out of business by delivering the raw materials to build the highways.

At the stern, the main points of interest were a large boiler with a tiny one-cylinder engine directly behind it – the powerhouse behind the whole Clyde transport system of the early

20th century.

Dropping over the stern and down a couple of metres, I could see the small prop and the rudder hard to starboard, perhaps thrust there in a last-ditch effort to avoid the rock on which Margaret Niven ended her sailing days.

She must have sunk fairly quickly, as the wreck lies 10m off the bottom of that very rock. If you feel comfortable about it, you can fin straight off the bows for 10m and ascend up the vertical cliff. This will give you plenty of interest to help you wile away your deco stops.

Kelp obscures everything above 6m, but the wall is covered in soft corals. The cracks and crevices are home to edible crabs and the guys from Hartlepool all saw lesser-spotted dogfish on every dive, with a few noted on the cliff here. These small sharks are common in the loch. Catch a lazy one and it will make a great photographic subject.

Moyle Rock

After a long steam up the loch we arrived at Moyle Rock, a submerged pinnacle. After the long wait, it was all go as soon as we reached at the site.

It was billed as similar to the Garden, which was magic. The difference was that Malcolm, who is also a keen diver, had apparently seen plumose anemones that made the Gardens look small.

I found the site under water by hitting the pinnacle at 18m and working up to around 6m, but with not a lot to show for it. I was about to surface when flashes of orange and white caught my eye. I headed south, and soon plumose anemones appeared, though they could not rival those of the Garden.

I think I was on the right site, and none of the other divers saw anything much apart from another dogfish.

If you have the choice, I would always opt for the Garden rather than waste time steaming to this site. However, on the way back we had the bonus of noting a large group of porpoises heading up the loch.

Back in Tarbert, it was pack-up time and then a three-hour drive home. Was it worth it You bet – the diving is great and relaxed, and Malcolm is a cheerful skipper who provides excellent briefings based on diving knowledge along with the hot drinks and chocolate biscuits.

Tarbert is a beautiful place, where people still say hello and pass the time of day. The pubs are great for a couple of nice pints post-meal. Give it a try.”

Source

Fyne Diving!

Come On In The Water Is Lovely!

Did you know you can explore the beautiful clear waters surrounding Kintyre with Fyne Diving?

Make your break even more memorable with Loch Fyne Dive Charters 
With stunning and unspoilt dive sites suitable for all interests and experience levels.
Their sites include pinnacles, drift dives, wrecks and reefs, in a range of depths from ~10m to 50m+
There is abundant marine life, giving plenty of scope for keen underwater photographers.
Take a look at some of the visitor photos here!
The sheltered waters of Loch Fyne mean there are usually good diving conditions and visitor all year round including, Seals, Dolphins and Basking Sharks
Read More Here…

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The Big Blue has specially designed seating provides plenty of space for the storage of cylinders and personal equipment as well as having space to seat all 12 divers.
There is stern gate giving a simple step into the water and a dive lift, also at the stern, gives an easy way to return to the boat after your dive.
 There is also a toilet for added comfort.
For more info, take a look at this fantastic video

As well as the wildlife there are also chances to view some of the old wrecks that rest on the sea beds, the team have extensive knowledge of the locations and what you are likely to see. All the info you could need is on their website, you can follow them on Facebook too.

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On The Road, A Visual Tour

Click Image To Enlarge

I am not a great photographer, but as we travel through the hills and beside the lochs there are so many breathtaking views, so here is a short post, loaded with pictures and videos of the B8024 (Just go through Tarbert, past Stonefield Wigwams, then turn right as though going to Tarbert Golf Course.

Then do a left onto the B8024, the road follows alongside the shores of West Loch.

A Coo!

Just follow the road, be mindful of the passing places as you may need to give way to farming or forestry vehicles, if you stop for photos or to enjoy the view, make sure you have left room for other vehicles to pass.

Allow yourself plenty of time to explore, or just relax and take in the stunning scenery and crisp, fresh air.

Port Ban Holiday Park, A Romantic Beach Just Before A Snow Flurry

Along the road you will find an excellent holiday park with static caravans and camping pitches.
Port Ban Holiday Park is set in a fantastic location and is perfect for extra guests if you are planing on getting married in such a beautiful spot.

See Crear Weddings for further info.
It is also a perfect location for family holidays, with sandy beaches and craggy coastlines there is plenty for little ones to do.

For Naturalists, it is wonderful all year round, with wildlife in abundance!
You don’t have to wait long to see Seals, Buzzards, Deer, Otters and much more.

If you have time, take a small diversion and see the sculptured stones that have been stored under cover to protect them from the elements, you can read more about them here.

Sandy beaches and rolling hills

Of course, you could just sit back, relax and enjoy the views (even better if someone else is driving)

A Common Seal In Loch Caolisport
The Weather Seems To Change With Each Twist And Turn
Rocky Beaches

And Raging Burns

Wonderful Wildlife

Sika Deer

The wildlife we see all around us could not possibly be covered in one blog post!
If you love nature and exploring the great outdoors, then Tarbert and the rest of Kintyre is a must see holiday location!
Living here I am lucky enough to be able to study at leisure.
I am not going to give a guide or a map, nor list the areas I’ve found some of the wildlife, because that takes away all the fun of a nature trail!

Just sitting here in my office I am treated to some splendid sights.
I once wasted an afternoon watching a Buzzard hunt and then feast on it’s prey after stomping all over it to tenderise it I presume!

The deer in the picture above is a regular visitor I’ve managed to capture a few photos of.
Other creatures are too fast, or too clever and you need a keen eye to see some of them.
Wherever you are in Tarbert keep your eyes peeled, the wildlife is everywhere!

Can you see me?

Usually seen when you least expect it and I have found I see much more on the days I don’t have my camera with me!

A Useful Guide For Identifying Wildlife

I was thrilled to see my first Pine Marten last year, it rushed to the top of a tree and watched me from the safety of it’s branch.
There are signs of them all over the place, but I never expected to see one so close, it was beautiful!

Adder

In the Summer months you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an Adder, Slow Worm or a Common Lizard up on the hills.

Along the shores you will find signs of Otters, if you are quiet and still you may even see some either eating at the waters edge or playing in the water.

Explore The Rock Pools

With so many small secluded beaches you can lose yourself for hours, relaxing or taking in all the life around you, from the Eagles soaring in the skies to the many mini beasts you will find in any of the rock pools.

If you look out to sea you could be lucky enough to spot one of the many seals that visit the lochs, quite often when we are out on our kayaks they will come and join us and follow us on our journeys.

If you want to really explore the secluded beaches and get quietly close to the marine life you can hire a canoe, kayak  or paddleboard from Kayak Majik.

If you hear a splash it could be a playful Porpoise, or a Gannet diving for it’s food.
Back on land, be careful where you tread in the spring as many birds nest along our shores and some eggs look just like pebbles!
If you love bird watching then you are really in for a treat! So many different species to see, I’m still trying to learn who is who, but when you see an eagle for the first time, you know it! Such beautiful birds, and so big you cannot be mistaken!

Tern Eggs

To get an idea of the fantastic variety of birds that live on and around the Tarbert forests, hills and shores take a look at the fantastic photographs on the Machrihanish Seabird And Wildlife Observatory Website!

Oyster Catcher