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Scapa Flow overview
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Scuba Diving in Scapa Flow, Scotland, UK, Europe
Dive Site: Bottle Run
Location: 58°49.6'N; 03°10.5'W
Description: 'Rummage' dive
Depth: 15 metres (50 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
Lyness Naval Museum is sited on what was a large naval base during the war years. Many arriving ships would throw much rubbish overboard in area not 10 minutes away, between Lyness and Rysa Island. All sorts of material may be found down there, from broken china cups, plate chards, pieces of metal like broken pipes to syringes and other medical paraphernalia.
Many dive boats visit the museum, which tells the history of the world wars and the very important role that Scapa Flow played. There are many poignant reminders of the tragedies, such as HMS Opal & Narborough Destroyers wrecked in the same storm with great loss of life, and HMS Royal Oak, the battleship probably more famous for the tragedy that struck. Many Scapa Flow artefacts still remain and it's worth having a good look around. Outside, a selection of guns have been salvaged and even one of the 6in guns from Karlsruhe, which gives the diver an idea what they looked like above water!
The Bottle Run is a rummage dive, named after the numerous bottles thrown overboard. Many divers have found old intact bottles down there, on our dive there were just pieces. The seabed where we dived was quite flat with only a few odd rocks and some of the divers went out further finding current to drift upon. It is quite often made as a drift but for those who prefer just wrecks, this is not for you. It is a great dive nevertheless to off gas a little being only 15m, and a chance to readjust any gear. In my case, I practiced with some new gear before going onto the wrecks with it.
The seabed is littered with scavenging critters and it's best (esp. if you like the marine life) to go nowhere and remain in a 5m sq box! Many of the old bottles and jars have made perfect homes for the tiny red shrimps or bunches of light bulb squirts. The place is alive with ambush predators such as scorpionfish. Queen scallops maybe found, many with accompanying anemones or top shells. Quite often small furry crabs can be spotted resting on common starfish, perhaps some strange symbiotic relationship!
A mistiness came about as we continued the dive, the vis. was around 10m, and it made us feel cooler. Much red algal weed, wracks and long tapering weeds congregate to form a turf. It's a strange moribund landscape, a certain stillness about it, where nothing moves. But, with a closer eye, hidden in this flurry of flora are some interesting creatures. The weed moves, it could be a velvet swimming crab, or a rarer cousin of the spider crab - a sea toad, which is even shyer. Bunches of tube squirts add colour to the proceedings, the internal organs can be clearly seen. Chunky edible crabs exist in pits, while large and voracious starfish munch a pathway.
Again, another SMB launch with an easy ascent to the surface, when ready.
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