Sheephaven Activity 10th & 11th January 2015

Jan 13 2015 Posted by Office Administraton

Sheephaven SAC dived Massmount on Saturday morning, well out of the way of the weekend storm that has brought a real touch of winter to the region, bringing with it hail, sleet and snow blowing across Sheephaven Bay. All along the Mulroy Bay system the storm force winds raised significant waves that combined together would have raised the risk of overwhelming the club dive boats, so a shore dive was the decision of the Dive Officer of the Day

At Massmount the divers achieved depths of 25 meters for surface to surface times of up to 40 minutes. In-water visibility at around 5 meters was quite good, while the water temperature at 5 degrees Celsius was a good bit warmer than top-side where it was down to 1 degree Celsius.

The sea bed at this location is dependent upon depth, from the surface to around 15 meters the seabed is made up of broken rock, for the next 5 to 10 meters it is a reasonably firm bed of sand and finely broken shell and thereafter it is a very soft mud, which is easily disturbed by the gentlest of motions.  The fish life at Massmount includes a substantial number of Gobies and Blennies, a small fish of no greater than 3 to 4 inches in length and very shy indeed.

Also observed on site were Sponge Spider Crabs, or Decorator Crabs, which cover the bodies in sponges and other items, giving them both camouflage as well as creating an illusion of greater size than they really are.

The most dominate species on the Massmount site are Sea Squirts and Sponges of many different varieties, all of which make for a great dive site on a stormy winters day.

The stormy weather still raged across Donegal on Sunday morning and as a result the seas were huge, with at least 3 meter waves rolling down Sheephaven Bay.

Even in PortnaBlagh harbour the sea was crashing way up the beach after thundering off the pier, potentially making any snorkelling there hazardous, consequently they snorkelled Sessiagh Lake instead.









The snorkel was used as a water fitness test and with the effect of the waves and the wind it was a good test indeed, as the short breaking waves were repeatedly flooding the club member’s Sheep1snorkels.

Sessiagh Lake has two Crannogs exposed above the water, with possibly more structures sunken at other parts of the lake. The eastern Crannog has a very well defined stone causeway from the lake shore, which falls off into deeper water quite steeply.

The western Crannog is very well defined, with a raised wall around its perimeter and is the ground nesting area for birds during the early spring and summer. This lake has Otters, which track from there down to the harbour in PortnaBlagh, sad to say not evident on Sunday morning.

Sessiagh Lake is a product of the Ice Age, created after it began to retreat some 10,000 years ago, having eroded the mountain ranges that make up the topography of the local area. The dominate rock formation in the vicinity of Sessiagh Lake is Sessiagh-Clonmass Formation, made up of metamorphic rocks Quartzite, Marble and Schist from the original sand or mudstone that was there even before this process began..

These mountain ranges were laid down during the Neoproterozoic geological era, which occurred between 1,000 and 540 million years ago. It is a part of the Appian Group, which is itself a part of Dalradian Supergroup that extends all the way to the Glens of Scotland

The first settlers to the area arrived by sea just as the Ice Age retreated and used the Crannogs in the lake as a place of refuge, where they could protect themselves and their possessions while remaining close to the sea nearby. It was place of refuge then and it still remains a place of refuge today, especially for the Sheephaven club members who got to snorkel there on Sunday morning.