SHEEPHAVEN SUB AQUA CLUB NOTES.
5th August 2018.
Sheephaven divers finally got onto a dive site that had been a long held ambition when they dived The Stag Rocks of Owey Island on Saturday morning.
The Stag Rocks are located two kilometres west from Owey Island and eight kilometres north east from Arranmore, while the journey out from Burtonport is a distance of over 10 kilometres.
Weather conditions on Saturday morning were quite good, but there was still a bit of a sea running from the west which slowed down travelling time.
The Stag Rocks consist of a series of isolated rocks rising up from a depth of over 30 metres, three of which are exposed under most tidal conditions. In the past they would have been a very significant hazard to shipping and this required a special red zone on Arranmore lighthouse to warn mariners away from the area.
The dive on Saturday morning was conducted on the northern side of the rocks and from the kelp line that goes down to fifteen metres to the sea bed at thirty metres there are a series of gullies, overhangs and a tangle of large boulders under which there are tunnels and caves.
Fish live was abundant and diverse, with large fish including Dogfish, Wrasse and Pollock, while the smaller species includes Sponges, Jewel Anemones and Hydroids.
Water temperature was warm at 16 degrees Celsius, allowing for comfortable dive times of up to 40 minutes – depending on depth – and in-water visibility was good at around 10 metres horizontally.
While the Stag Rocks have an appeal to divers due to their isolated and pristine nature they also have an attraction due to their place in local folklore.
Legend would have it that the three rocks represent three brothers – or witches depending on the story – that fled the arrival of Christianity on Tory, with the intention of seeking refuge on pagan Arranmore.
However their departure was observed and they were turned to stone – but every seven years they seek to continue their journey to Arranmore, unless they are seen by humans at which time they revert back to stone.
In the recent years one of the Stags was broken down by the winter storms – or was it that one of the brothers unseen got a bit further in their quest?
The divers went back out again on Saturday afternoon, this time to Torneady Point in the vicinity of Arranmore lighthouse – finishing out a really decent days diving.
Sunday morning saw the divers back in Downings, where Noel Brennan led them to Melmore Head and into another morning of excellent diving.
There was a swell rolling in from the west that made locations like the Kalliopis, the Frenchman and the Limeburner too exposed, but Melmore Head never disappoints and once again the fish life were worth the dive in its own right.