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Scuba Diving in St Abbs, Scotland
Dive Site: West Hurker
Location: St. Abbs Head, Scotland
Description: Boat dive
Depth: 0 - 15 metres (0 - 50 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
To describe this dive site fully would take a long time. It is one of the most prolific dive sites in the area for the smaller marine life, and if you are an underwater photographer it is macro heaven!
The max depth to go is no more than 15m and the best of the marine creatures are 6-12m. West Hurkar Rock is about 20mins by boat around St. Abbs Head, almost to Pettico Wick. The dive starts through a very deeply cut gully. Many divers swim off into the depths and miss all the fun, which is along the mainland wall and the boulder field in front. The secret of this dive is to go nowhere, go very slowly and take in the scenery.
The deep cut gully is about 1.5m wide, from 0-6m depth and completely plastered in the densest and prettiest mass of tiny plumose anemones you'll ever see. Amongst the entrance kelp large snake pipefish (we counted nearly 10 at last visit) are wrapped around the kelp of the same colour. Clumps of oaten pipe hydroids waft their fronds in the swell which will be encountered, so buoyancy and control is paramount.
After swimming the 15m distance, the landscape opens out a little. On the left is the Hurkar Rock, where some divers prefer to do the outside but miss out on the current-swept inner channel. With a depth of 8m, some surge may be encountered but it's worth it as the inner wall is tightly packed with huge numbers of filter feeding sponges, sagartia and strawberry anemones, and barnacles. The place is a colour explosion; add to this red Bloody Henry starfish and the rainbow colours are complete.
It's a good to spend a long time looking at this wall and the shelf above, which usually contains lobster and other crustaceans. Heading with the wall on the left, a boulder field opens out into 12-15m, but staying shallow is the key because on these boulders at certain times of the year can be hundreds (not exaggerating) of tritonia nudibranchs. Sea scorpions seem to favour these boulders, as do octopus. In the water column large shoals of juvenile fish flash by just out of camera shot. About 30m along the wall a crevice appears at 8m and if you are confident enough have a quick peek in, large edible crabs and better still many blue/red squat lobsters called Galathea strigosa are seen. These two colours are very rich, distinct and eye catching.
The dive usually terminates about another 30m on where a huge submerged heart shaped rock rests in 15m rising to about 7m. Before this is another very large boulder which has fallen on to a rock outcrop creating another crevice worthy of exploration. Along this whole stretch are large numbers of ballen wrasse which at times are seen in their mating colours.
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