Sheephaven SAC activity 25th Jan 2015

Jan 27 2015 Posted by Office Administraton

Sheephaven divers were able to get out in a boat on Saturday morning for the first time in a few weeks, when they dived Dunloan Rock at the First Narrows to Mulroy Bay. The dive party arrived on site just at Spring Tide High Water and the flooding tide was completely covering the rock, with only the green starboard navigation marker visible.

Air temperature was just barely above freezing at 2 degrees Celsius and it was just a bit warmer in the water at 6 degrees Celsius, which made for a chilly enough 40 minute dive surface to surface. Thankfully the forecasted wintery conditions stayed away until after the dive party returned to Mevagh and the boat was safely recovered at the slipway.

In-water visibility during the dive was poor, reported at no greater than half a meter throughout the water column, which called for the required best diving practice of sticking close to your dive buddy throughout the dive.

The usual fish life suspects were in place at 25 meters,  the deepest part of the dive, with the divers observing  Lobsters, Shrimps and a couple of Conger Eels, while topside the covering crew in the dive boat had a rare moment when they joined by an Otter.

Just as the tide began to ebb the Otter, which has the wonderful scientific name of Lutra lutra, appeared near the starboard navigation marker on Dunloan Rock where it stayed for a while, resting on its back on the surface from time to time in between diving for food.

It is truly a rare privilege for an Otter to tolerate the presence of people, so we kept as quiet as possible until eventually it left the dive site, a very special moment indeed.

The conservation of the Otter is one of the objectives under the current Habitats Directive for Mulroy Bay and its observation on Saturday is evidence that the actions taken are having a positive effect. The presence of Saturdays Otter is a true indicator of the pristine quality of the Mulroy Bay ecosystem, which Sheephaven divers have on their doorstep 52 weeks of the year.

There was a big turnout on Sunday morning for the PortnaBlagh Sunday morning snorkel, led by Anne Boyle. Weather was promised windy with squally showers, but thankfully it stayed dry and along with air temperature now up to 9 degrees Celsius we experienced a bit of clement weather for a change.

Water temperature was less than 8 degrees Celsius and there was a 1 meter swell rolling in on the very high Spring Tide to crash far up PortnaBlagh beach. Well done to all who turned out on Sunday morning, which is hopefully the beginning of better conditions as we come out of the recent harsh winter conditions.

The Underwater Council of Ireland or CFT have two interesting courses coming up later in the year, the first is Seasearch Observer course in Skerries Co. Dublin, which is on the weekend of the 25th and 26th April 2015.

This is an introductory course that aims to help divers understand the different types of marine life they observe during their dives and is open to 2 Star divers and above. The course consists of a day of lectures on Saturday followed by two dives on Sunday and is currently up on COMS for registration.

The other course is a result of CFT forming a partnership with Nautical Archaeology Society as an official Training Partner, which will assist in raising awareness of Ireland rich maritime heritage.

This heritage includes shipwrecks such as an Armada era wreck discovered and subsequently surveyed at Rutland Island, Co. Donegal in 2011 by the Underwater Archaeological Unit of the Irish National Monuments Service, the Armada wrecks around the North Irish coastline that include the Gerona of Co. Antrim, Trinidad Valencera at Kinnagoe Bay, Inishowen, the Dequesta Santa Anna near Rosbeg, Co. Donegal and three wrecks off Streedagh Strand Co. Sligo.

But our maritime heritage is not confined to coastal shipwrecks; it also extends to our inland fresh water sites which in Donegal includes many Crannog lakes and fortified lake islands, 10 of which have been snorkelled by Sheephaven divers in the past.

Recently in Lough Corrib there has been an extensive survey that has yielded up a number of primitive log boats, which are reported as being many thousands of years old. While another rare find was a Viking sword found on dive in the River Shannon some years ago.

This course will be delivered though CFT COMS and further information on booking can be got from CFT head office in Dublin by emailing Louise Gilligan at or ringing 012844601.