Sunday Diving at Furnace, Loch Fyne

A small team headed off to Loch Fyne on a fine spring day.

Arriving in good time at Furnace quarry we were surprised to see that the car park was almost full with a large group from a Glasgow dive centre. So while they held their pre dive briefing we nipped in to enjoy good vis before it was stirred up. A slow descent to the base of the boulders, checking buoyancy as we went saw few of the dogfish found previously to be in residence, though we did find one that provided some entertainment.

The dive school had by now traversed in above us and we had multiple torches shining down on us as we traverse upwards through them.

The deep

Half tanks saw us start the return journey and we drifted with the current back to the starting point choosing a slightly lower depth than our dive centre friends who were by now shoaling together.

Back on dry land we opted for a quieter or at least a different dive location and drove round to the Bistro where another full car park boded no good. As it turned out half of these divers were training in the bay and the other half were on the outer reef so apart from a solo diver we didn’t see anyone whilst in the water.

The profile was a typical one, along the outside reef and then back on the inside one and finishing off across the bay to exit close to the walkway.

A very enjoyable day which culminated in The George where congratulations went to Colin on recording a numerically memorable dive which was a wee cracker.

Dogfish Reef, Furnace, Loch Fyne 30th January 2011

Vase Coral (Haliclona ureolus) with seal loch anenomies (Protanthea simplex)

Sunday diving in winter really doesn’t get better than this, an interesting dive, good weather and enjoyable local amenities. Dogfish Reef is an excellent example of one of the many accessible shore dives in Loch Fyne and with the good visibility that we encountered and ambient light penetrating all the way down to the bottom of the reef it was a marked contrast to the dark and dismal dives of the inner lochs.

A fresh peppering of snow on the hills and a noticeable oily layer had surface temperatures in the 4-5 degrees but below 6m we had a balmy 9 degrees. With fins on at the water’s edge, the first dive saw us following the kelp and then sinking down the steep boulder slope to a respectable depth, turning left and searching the nooks and crannies for dogfish. I was about to give up when the flashing torch indicated success and the first of four fish was found hiding in the rocks. Four dogfish and big ones too!

This was the lesser spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) as can be seen from the nasal flaps which extent to the lips.

This site has a fantastic coverage of sealoch anenomies and a few striking example a soft corals. Haliclona ureolus

So with limited bottom time we took the diagonal return across the boulder slope enjoying the delights of blue corals

Blue encrusting sponge

and prawns, crabs and corkwing wrasse and all sorts of worms and tunicates.

The second dive was similar though having taken some local advise we went just 5 m deeper and reached dogfish city, in one small patch of rocks there were dogfish in twos and threes in every crevice in the boulder slope. Within five minutes the novelty of seeing them wore off, there were just too many and we moved on as we were limited in our bottom time. We traversed and returned across the slope slightly deeper finding a section of the reef covered in the anenomies and ending at a sunken concrete pontoon which signalled the start of out ascent and brought us back nicely to the entry point. A massive ballan wrasse was to be found here in the middle of the pontoon.

The life continued to enthrall us, even in the shallows where we watched dancing sea gooseberries. Shining a torch on these resulted in bioluminescence radiating down the internal filaments.

All in all two very good dives.

To warm up we ventured into the George at Inverary and entertained ourselves by enjoying strange brews from the landlords taps before driving back over the Rest and be Thankful to get back to Crieff by 17:30.

a few more photos here