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Scuba Diving in Skye, Scotland
Dive Site: Meanish Reef
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Description: Shore dive
Depth: 8 metres (26 feet)
Visibility: 6 metres (20 feet)
Imagine a remote large Scottish loch, where at one corner there's a salmon fish farm, and either side of the long loch, cliffs and waterfalls plummet to the sea. A narrow road, with passing points, snakes its way across a peppered landscape of peat bogs, scrubland, coastal areas & hilly tracts. Sheep graze and wander on the road; eventually after the road has ascended dropped & curved down for the last time, it terminates at Meanish Pier. Here, in Loch Pooltiel, we join our boat which has been driven around from Loch Bay devoid of divers and equipment. Meanish Reef is best boat dived and as we load the boat I look around for a freshwater supply and there it is, a plastic pipe coming out of the hillside pouring the sweetest fresh water ever made!
A short journey around the pier and about 50 or so metres out is the reef of Meanish Pier. It starts with a jumble of boulder rocks in about 8m, which drop away to around 15m. The rocks are completely covered in a dense carpet of small bright white and orange plumose anemones. The water column is likely to have dense shoals of juvenile pollack or mackerel hanging around. Smaller fish inhabit the recesses of the boulders, as do a variety of crab species and of course the occasional lobster. A movement in one's eye may be as a result of spotting either an octopus or an anglerfish, both well camouflaged along this now horizontal stretch of rocks going seaward. It's best to pick your way across the rocks to spot the numerous marine creatures within the nooks and crannies.
The loch bed is not without interest as it's sufficiently exposed to some sea-borne currents. Partially sand and partially mud, it's ideal country for tiny gobies, hermit crabs and occasional scallops. What is distinctive over this ground is the sheer number of filter feeding cnidarians. They are everywhere - sometimes in dense patches, mostly brown hues, with their tentacles extended. White patches appear dotted all over, especially in the clear visibility that can be had. These turn out to be firework anemones, the pure white tentacles extended with a small soft yellow interior, reminding me of craters on the Moon! With all this marine life, it's best not to get disorientated, and with luck a return to the shot line and ascent is in order.
Fantastic dive completed in August 2008, swam out from the rocky beach to the left of the pier for about 60m. The drop off is very easy to see as the weed just stops and the wall drops away. Loads to see, we saw John Dory, giant edible crab and loads of other stuff. Well worth a visit.
Mark Brookshaw | 22/03/2009
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