On Sunday 13th November 2016, 5:30am saw two divers (Martin and Jamie) from Marlin Sub-Aqua Club set off south from Nuneaton to Brixham in Devon for a day’s shore diving. Arriving at the Breakwater Beach carpark (Berry Head Rd, Brixham TQ5 9AF, £5/day) at 9am we saw an SMB moving gently out on the bay – other divers, a good sign!
We did three dives: Dive 1: We headed out to sea (north) from the beach for 25mins then turned left. This brought us back to the breakwater and we could then exit at the south-west corner of the beach. The middle of the bay is silty-sand with invasive slipper limpets nearer the shore, although pleasingly there are sprigs of eelgrass establishing themselves further out. The maximum depth was 6m, and we even managed a slow drift once we turned west. We saw king scallops, common dragonets, common hermit crabs, double spiral worms, eyelash worms, and another similar type of worm buried in the silt. Dive 2: This time we started at the east of the bay, with the aim of swimming around and finding more eelgrass in adjoining Ladybird Bay. We didn’t make it to the eelgrass, but did see a different habitat as the sand gave way to rock and gravel. Maximum depth was only 4m. Several mermaid’s purses were seen attached to the kelp holdfasts, and a large lobster and several crabs were seen hiding in the rock cervices. On the rocks themselves were snakelocks anemones, and lots of small anemones, boring sponges and a number of mysterious white creatures, possibly a type of large sea squirt. Dive 3: For the last dive of the day we went out along the rocks by the breakwater for 30mins before turning around and heading back. It was approaching high water which was best, although not essential, for this dive. A lone fisherman was on the breakwater, but his line was cast well over the rocks and so was not a great hazard. We took a goodie bag, but not having a licence to land shellfish/crabs in Devon, we instead collected a haul of fishing line and lead weights to clean up the seabed under the breakwater. This area had more seaweed, including kelp with sea mat bryozoans, sugar kelp, pod weed and rainbow weed that iridesced blue in the torch light. Common prawns, corkwing wrasse, and goldsinny were also seen around the rocks. Maximum depth 7.5m. A fourth shore dive is possible, out to the east, to the far side of Ladybird Bay by Shoalstone outdoor pool, then north out along a submerged reef to 12m before returning home in the south-west. Breakwater Beach is divable at any state of the tide, but is blown out by N, NE or E winds. Boat dives, both scenic and wreck, are also available from Brixham on the RIB Argonaut from Nautilus Dive Charters, and air fills to 300bar are available from Brixham Dive Shack (Unit 13, St Marys Yard, Horsepool Street, TQ5 9LD). By 4pm our kit was back in the car and we retired to the Breakwater Bistro for a burger, before driving back to Warwickshire. It was a very long, but also very enjoyable day, and the journey back was spent planning a longer trip for next year.