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Scuba Diving North Wales, UK, Europe

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Dive Site: Seagull Islands Drift (Ynys Gwylan Fawr & Bach)

Location: Aberdaron, Lleyn, North Wales

Description: Drift dive

Depth: 9 - 15 metres (30 - 50 feet)

Visibility: 10 - 15 metres (30 - 50 feet)

Rating: ****

In the right conditions a very pleasant, pretty drift with many marine species, fish and boulders in which to explore en route. Set against the backdrop of the Lleyn Peninsula, a site of outstanding natural beauty, the two Seagull Islands provide a nice drift across a marine life covered seabed. The area is spectacular in scenery, both above and below the waterline. The last occasion I dived this in 2005, the visibility was around 15m or more, the weather bright and the water around 17°C. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon strolling along the seabed between two islands.

Dropping in the water on the eastern side of the Seagull Islands means a westerly drift through them and initially the dive starts on part of a series of terraced ledges. As fishing pots are usually present the skipper will indicate at what time to launch the delayed SMB and reel.

The initial boulders and wall were covered in a huge array of fluffy white deadman's fingers, creating a garden topped with a light canopy of kelp. There wasn't much current as we pottered around for a few minutes, my camera in hand set up for wide-angle photography which given the nature of the impending dive was probably the wrong lens! As it turned out, it was perfect. After a few metres it was time to go out into the flow and go with same. On this occasion it pleasantly meandered across a field of deadmans everywhere as far as the eye could see, which on occasions was certainly over 15m. The green of the water provided an interesting contrast with the dense pockets of coldwater corals and enabled me to shoot ambient light.

On this gently drift we could both turn around and face into the current to "brake" and look at some of the marine creatures down here like tompot blennies, spider and edible crabs, and dogfish in the ridges and hollows of this undulating landscape. A pyramidal-shaped rock loomed up smattered in deadman's and we spotted a few lines from the pots. Any bare rock has been taken over by Amphilectus fucorum sponge particularly prevalent in this area. This bright orange sponge has many holes and looking carefully can reward the diver with spotting small scorpion spider crabs, which favour it or the snakelocks anemones. Don't you just love to see a shoal of pollack hanging there in the water column as if there was no current whilst all you can think of is where are my bubbles going up or down, watch out for this rock - what rock, where's my buddy?, oh there's a nice photo, I'd better check my air?!

Another pot line went passed, we looked at our dive computers and 32 minutes was already up - where had the time gone? Launching the SMB we both wondered if that was the last of the lines and whether we'd need to lose this line & SMB due to entanglement and have to launch another. As we were now connected to the surface, the current increased as the surface current was much stronger. We travelled along for another 15 minutes the bulk of the dive was conducted in 12-15m of water, however, this started to shallow out as the current brought us up to 9m and crashing into kelp. Luckily my buddy had hold of the reel and I the camera! The kelp flapped around and ridges came upon us signalling a corner of one of the islands and suddenly we were free of this and up into the spacious water column with its moon and dumb-bell jellyfish on our safety stop.

Tony Gilbert

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