Diving in Newquay
Looking out to sea you watch the surfers freezing while waiting for the next decent wave, you never know, there may be other people out there in the water, you just can't see them.
Scuba diving is a huge sport, actual figures for the number of active divers in the UK can only be estimated at somewhere over 80,000. North Cornwall, in my opinion, is a world class dive location but due to the ferocity of the Atlantic, it is probably one of the least dived areas in the UK.
Dive centres have come and gone, but the diving still goes on, mainly by the Newquay's British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) branch. Newquay's one remaining dive boat 'Atlantic Diver', run by Chris Lowe, has the ocean to himself. Apart from a few marauders like me.
do we do it? It is the question we get asked and sometimes we ask
ourselves, every diver has their reasons. Whether they are looking for
hidden treasure, maybe into underwater photography, or just like to
look at the life beneath the waves or it's just an excuse to get away
from the missus.
So what does Newquay offer underwater?
most popular shore dive in Newquay is the old lifeboat slip on the
eastern side of Towan head. There are four possible entry points on
Towan head, most people go for the old lifeboat slip itself. Seal Cove
is a tiny cove just before the slip, aptly named as Seals regularly
come and 'play' with divers there, sometimes nibbling at their fins,
sometimes a little more playfull. The other 2 entry points are Little
Fistral and the other is just behind the toilets. Whilst the diving in
this area is relatively shallow the wealth of life is still vast. All
the most common fish life are around as long as the seals are not.
Ballan, Corkwing and Cuckoo Wrasse are the most common fish, small
Pollack can be seen occasionally too. Looking in the nooks and crannies
you can find Lobsters, Squat Lobsters, Edible Crabs and even the odd
Conger Eel. On the shallower dive sites Kelp is the biggest
distraction, you have to rummage through it to find some of the smaller
life like Anemones and Nudibranchs (small and very colourful sea slugs).
are other places you could do a shore dive, but what makes a good shore
dive? Close proximity to a place to park your car, scuba diving
equipment is heavy, and somewhere where you do not have to swim several
hundred metres to get more than a few metres depth.
a boat there a hundreds of choices of reefs or wrecks at all sorts of
depths. Milky Rough is a local name for a shallow reef off of the end
of Porth Island, it's just far enough away from the shore to be out of
reach for fishermen, and too shallow for most commercial fishing
vessels. I am always amazed by the amount of life there is around.
Surrounded by sand the rocks stick out just a couple of metres, it is
one of the few places where Trigger Fish have made their home. Trigger
Fish are usually associated with warmer waters, but there are
increasing numbers of them in the UK. As soon as you get near them they
dash into the nearest crack in the rocks, too fast for the camera.
Milky Rough is a great second dive of the day at between 6 and 12m, as
is Goose Rock off Pentire headland in depths between 9 and 15m. Goose
Rock has quite a lot of crustacean life around it, several species of
Crabs and Lobsters can be found there. Pol Texas is another reef a
little further out from Milky Rough, and a little deeper again, ranging
from 18 to 25m, by now the Kelp is disappearing leaving room for some
hard and soft corals, such as the Pink Sea Fan, Ross Coral and Cup
Corals. Nudibranchs can also be found, but you do have to look very
years ago some members of Newquay BSAC were diving a reef 1 mile north
west off Towan head when they came across a pair of large anchors and
some chain. They followed the chain and came across a wreck now known
to be the Syracusa. The Syracusa sunk in rough seas after its cargo of
coal shifted. The Newquay lifeboat was launched after distress flares
were seen and tried to make way in the rough seas, these were the days
before lifeboats had engines. Despite trying for several hours to row
out to the stricken vessel to no avail, the lifeboat returned.
the Syracusa lies upright at a depth of 30m (low tide) , its cargo of
coal has gradually been removed by divers, apparently it burns very
hot, but it spits a lot. After over 100 years on the bottom the bows
are now giving way, the rest of the wreck is laid out like a boat 'kit'
waiting to be built. Its boiler, prop shaft and cast iron prop all lie
in place. Life is abundant, larger Pollack, Bib and the odd Ling are
seen around the wreck. Lobsters and Conger Eels hide in between the
pieces of metal. Tompot Blenny's can occasionally be found and can
sometimes be quite playful. Pink Sea Fans and Jewel Anemones are
scattered over the wreck.
A little further out again
there are the wrecks of the Lake Edon and an unknown wreck known
locally as the 'Shell Wreck', and a pinnacle called Medusa Rock, a
beautifully covered reef system that also has a small wreck on it.
These are for the more experienced diver. For the 'Technical Diver'
there are many wrecks in depths in the 60 & 70m range.
are just a few of the things that lie under the water close to the
shore at Newquay. Get in contact with Newquay BSAC or find yourself a
PADI dive centre and come and join us, underwater.