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Scuba Diving in St Abbs, Scotland
Dive Site: The Barnyard
Location: St. Abbs Head, Scotland
Description: Boat dive
Depth: 5 - 15 metres (15 - 50 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
A very popular shallow dive site suitable for all levels and the lesser experienced divers. The abundant and varied marine life provides a great introduction to UK diving. A short boat ride from St. Abbs harbour northwards to the head. It's good to marvel at all the seabirds whizzing around the tall rock stacks. A flick of the boat's wheel towards the towering rocks and it seems maybe the skipper has decided to end it all in Davey Jones' locker!
But then a visible crack some 4m wide appears surrounded by white water lashing the rock sides. 'Is he going in there?' his passengers look querulously on? And, before you can say Klingons off the starboard bow, the boat is in a cylindrical hollow of rock, surrounded by high sided walls and a cacophony of sound from all the sea birds perched on the heights above. The water below is clear, with a surface mixed with guano, seaweed and flotsam. This is the entry point and safe too. Dropping in the steep walls continue to 5m, and on many occasion large congregations of jellyfish, particularly moon, can be found. Exiting through the cleavage (more of a keyhole) the vertical sides are adorned with cold water corals. A right turn takes the diver along the outside wall and to the (deeper) left the massed ranks of boulders sparkling with fine shell sand, sponges and encrusting algae.
A few small rocks lie on the entrance sand shingle and it's worth looking for the sea scorpions. The rocks can be home to flatfish, but they are so well camouflaged you are likely to swim over them! The dive continues with the rock wall on the right in 8-12m of water, right to what would be the end of the ridge and now slightly inland. It is usually here that divers are surprised to find guillemots and gannets at 12-15m. Suddenly the diver is confronted by flapping wings and black beady eyes as the bird realises the air bubbles are not quite the meal it thought it was!
Just around this corner a darker area closes in where an overhang-come-arch provides an interesting backdrop and where many shoals of juvenile fish tend to congregate. These keep a safe wary distance from divers, but it is a great sight indeed. Eventually the channel closes in on either side and becomes shallower with kelp-topped ridges. Small cracks reveal numerous crabs, shrimp, top shells and even the kelp beds are not without interest, with sponges and nudibranchs. We are now back where we started. in the Barnyard!
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