As charter boats were still not available due to COVID19 issues it was decided to take advantage of the good weather and partake in a good old fashioned shore dive. In fact, Thursday 25th June 2020 was forecasted as being the hottest day of the year so far with neap tides and high tide at about 10am and low tide 3.30pm…..so perfect conditions were expected.
Myself (Mike W), Martin and Sue arrived in better than good time at 6:30am (journey time was 3 hours) so we had plenty of time to get ourselves ready. Babbacombe beach has very good facilities, a small car park, a small café and toilet facilities which to our dismay was closed due to COVID19 reasons. Furthermore, make sure you have coins for the carparking machine.!
Our plan for the first dive was to find “Mushroom Rock” but to our surprise we instantly discovered that the sea visibility was a disappointing 2m and at best 3m. Nevertheless, we headed North until we quite quickly found a mushroom shaped rock. Martin was quite jubilant about this but after changing to a westerly direction we found another ‘larger’ mushroom shaped rock.! Further to debate, we’re now not entirely certain if we successfully found the correct rock formation at all. However, despite the unfortunate visibility there was plenty of aquatic life notably common lobsters, velvet swimming crabs, edible crab, spider crabs and lots of industrious looking hermit crabs. There was also an abundance of snakelock and jewel anemones, various sponges and a multitude of red and green seaweeds.
However, the highlight though was a couple of cuttlefish, they both looked quite grumpy and were insistent on not having their photo taken. Maybe it was because Martin was a little too close to some pointy black eggs recently layed by these beautiful creatures or the male was protecting his prize mate.
For the second dive we headed in a north east direction around the other side of the harbour wall where there was an abundance of kelp, but amongst it all was many types of small fish and one or 2 wrasse and pollock which seemed to swim around us in curiousity. Watch out though, there are fishermen fishing off the harbour wall so make sure you take a knife with you if you’re going to fin in this area.
Our last dive took us in a north west direction where after finning over a number of clustered rocks the sea bed levels out, here I found a resting small-spotted catshark near a beautiful plumose anemone. Where the sea bed levels out it gets quite sandy and this is where I found a large necklace shell (or moon snail) clearly hungry and in search of food. Martin’s highlight on this dive was a Tom pot blenny hiding in a rock crevice and Sue took delight in the sighting of a pipefish and of course a number of scallops.! By the time it was to return back to shore it was low tide, and getting out of the water over the slippery rocks was quite a challenge…..I’m not sure how Martin managed it with his twinset. However we got back eventually all intact.
Despite the bad water visibility, which incidentally was blamed on heavy rainfall some days before, the conditions were very good with a sea temperature of 18-19deg.C and maximum depth of 9m. A total of 3 dives and dive time of 2hrs 45, I have to say is so far my favourite south coast shore dive destination I would recommend it to any scuba diver at any diving level. Furthermore, we left Nuneaton at 3:30am had a fantastic day and were back home for tea by 7pm.