Sheephaven SAC – Massmount

Feb 22 2012 Posted by Office Administraton



18thFebruary 2012.

Sheephaven SAC had a full weekend of activities last week with a shore dive on Saturday morning followed on Sunday by a trainee snorkel out from Woodquarter Pier. The return of the wintery weather with strong northwest winds, sleet and occasionally snow was the limiting factor, resulting in a retreat to the deepest reaches of Mulroy Bay were the waters were predictably calmer.

Saturday mornings shore dive was from Massmount where the decent to twenty metres was conducted in excellent in-water visibility, in stark contrast to the poor conditions on the surface. Average water temperature was six degrees Celsius twice that of the air temperature above,which struggled to get above three degrees Celsius and felt much colder with the wind chill.

On this dive the divers followed the rock wall in a northerly direction for over ten minutes at around ten metres, then turned west out into the muddy seabed for five minutes until they got to twenty metres, they then turned south for ten minutes and finally turned east for five minutes back to the rock wall and the eventual safety stop at six metres.

This site has three quite distinct substrate types producing separate habitats. In the intertidal zone where there is a mixture of rock wall, stones and sand there is a predominance of seaweeds mainly Mermaids tresses, Sea lettuce, Pod weeds and Bladder wracks. At around five metres these algae species give way to sponges, anemones, hydroids and Sea Squirts which adhere to the boulders and rocks that make up this clearly distinct second habitat. It is at this level Massmount biodiversity hasa unique feature, in the observation of Leather Sea Squirts who are invasive species to this location.  In the spaces between the boulders and rocks there appears to be a Goby or Blenny in every available nook and cranny andit is in this zone that the big crustaceans reside, with some great examples of Lobsters present.

The third and lowest habitat is the mud that makes up the sea bed from ten metres onwards. While this habitat appears to be lifeless nothing could be further from the truth – with life apparent throughout the zone. Tube worms in the form of Peacock Worms are present residing in the mud with large Nudibranchs such as Sea Lemons and their egg strings regularly observed on top of the seabed.   Large fish such as Dogfish and Thornback Ray will be occasionally observed at Massmountin this zone.

Sunday morning’s trainee snorkel was out from Woodquarter Pier, around Inishyweel Island and back. All the trainees made it and got to experience the excellent water visibility that afforded them the opportunity to observe the seabed, even where the water was ten metres deep. Water temperature was the same as at Massmount at six degrees Celsius and the snorkelers also benefited from some winter sunshine to add to the mornings run out.

Sheephaven SAC wish to send a word of thanks to Mark Langan, who has made such an excellent job of painting the clubhouse and in particular the boathouse floor over the recent weeks. This work along with the recent big service on the air compressor leaves the club nicely set up for the upcoming diving season, which is hopefully not too far away.

Finally Sheephaven SAC welcomed back James ‘Buster’ Keane to the club, Buster was an Instructor M2 with the club for many years and he has taken the opportunity to get back into club activities. While Sheephaven SAC has been fortunate to have trainees for the last number of years it is always open to returning or lapsed divers from any affiliation who wish to become involved in club diving. Club activities over the last number of years have not been confined to just Donegal waters but have taken the opportunity to include weekend dives in sites as varied as Rathlin Island and north Co. Mayo.Anyone who is interested should come along to the Sunday morning snorkels at 10.00am either in PortnaBlagh or Massmount depending on sea conditions.