print dive site review | contribute site info / photo
Scuba Diving Southwest Coast of England, UK, Europe
Dive Site: Plymouth Breakwater
Location: Plymouth Sound
Length: 1 nautical mile
Depth: 10 - 14 metres + (30 - 46 feet)
Visibility: 0 - 14 metres (0 - 46 feet)
Plymouth Breakwater offers lots of opportunities for divers when
other options look bleak due to weather or time constraints. Each part of
the breakwater offers a completely different experience. The north is
heavily protected from the open sea and has the typical sandy bottom found around the rest of Plymouth Sound. This offers the possibility of
seeing dogfish, scallops on the move and plenty of spider crabs. However the
seabed to the south is rocky and has plenty of kelp growth, meaning there
are a large variety of fish to be seen as well as lots of pretty plant life.
If you fancy a drift dive, wait for the tide to go out and get the boat to
drop you off on the north east end - you'll find that the current will rush
you around to the south side pretty quickly, dropping off onto Tinkers
Shoal. Perfect for beginners or the last dive of the day, somewhere close to
Luke Cooper-Berry, BSAC Open Water Instructor
This dive site is mainly used for backup dives by skippers running hardboats when the weather is bad outside of the breakwater.
Like the forts in the Solent, these were built in the 1850's to prevent attack from other countries. Victorians built them and as they were forward thinking, recognised that gun technology would develop so were built with this in mind allowing extra armour to be added on the outside. The magazine room was a dangerous circular place esp. in the days of open lights, like candles, so they designed an upside down candle. The glass dome went into the ceiling of the magazine room and the naked burning flame in an upper chamber away from the cordite. Many forts were used during WWII as AA platforms.
Viz here varies. The fort and its metal attractions of cylinders, washing machine and chamber/habitat provide the marine life with many places to colonise. The bottom composition is very silty and cruising around the main structure can lead to dark spots. A pier was erected nearby, but this has been moved. The habitat is a good starting place, covered in plumose anemones. Taking a 180° bearing will go over land occupied by hermit crabs and other scavengers such as spiny starfish. I spotted a huge one some 2m across, never seen one so big anywhere else!
Care should be exercised while circuiting the fort's lower walls. These are home to many outward facing PINK SEA FANS, which are rare globally. Look on these for the tiny nudibranch Tritonia nilsodneri which looks like the Eunicella fan, but is 1cm long.
At all times a delayed SMB should be used before surfacing, cos if your boat is there sheltering the chances are so are others! Be patient on surfacing as your boat may be around the other side of the fort.
Do you have any comments on this dive site?
print dive site review | contribute site info / photo | top of page