After the famously cold winter a small but foolhardy group of divers from Peebles and Pentland SACs arrived at the deserted car park at St Abbs,
Having sped down the A1 amongst flurries of snowflakes. Group leader Marion Fraser (once again the dive organiser) marshalled us onto “Topline” and we were soon bouncing our way across a gentle swell to the Black Carrs with Paul Crowe at the helm. With only six divers there was lots of space to get kitted up. Police pair Jim Tilson and Bill Innes were the first to take the plunge, Hugh and Marion Fraser followed and Brian Lyell and I not long after. It was cold!! 5c on the surface, 5c at 17m where we hit the bottom, and 5c at 20m when we headed back to the surface!
Its not the best time of year to see creatures as most of them have the sense to move offshore to deeper and warmer water and residents such as deadman’s fingers and anemones which can’t travel, generally shut up shop. The highlight of the animals seen was a wolf-fish briefly sighted at the mouth of its lair (we could see quite distinctly that its massive teeth were chattering!).
As is normal for this region huge numbers of brittlestars carpeted the sea floor, mainly black brittlestar but also common and crevice brittlestars. Two of the allegedly black brittlestars were bright orange (see photo). Other echinoderms seen were common sea urchins, bloody henries and common starfish. A single nudibranch (Coryphella lineata) shivered its way across a rock until the hand of Brian (he’s not the Messiah he’s a very naughty boy!), rested on its back! Other interesting animals seen were the painted topshell, both the normal variety and the white form. Topshells supplement their diet by spreading a thin layer of mucus over their shells to trap settling planktonic organisms and then licking them off with their foot!After an uneventful safety stop we rejoined the others on the deck of Topline and become reacquainted with sensation in our fingers. One very welcome coffee and a short trip back across the bay during which we spotted a peregrine falcon, we were back on dry land.
Many thanks to Marion for getting us all back in the water, we can all look forward to warmer dives at this top site, but less easy access to parking spots!