ISLES OF SCILLY
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REEF DIVES

Although there are many excellent shallow reef dives in sandy bays around the islands, the most exciting dives are definitely the often sheer granite walls and pinnacles, many dropping to un-diveable (air!) depths, which are found offshore all around the archipelago. Most of these provide the ideal dive profile, allowing a deep plunge for those who want it, followed by a gentle ascent, and decompression in the shallows. The combination of strong tides and the influence of the Gulf Stream propagates amazing densities of sessile marine life and attracts all manner of shoaling and pelagic fish. Mix this with some inevitable meetings with inquisitive and playful seals and you have an irresistible combination to keep the average photographer, or those simply interested in marine life, happy for weeks.
Menawethen Rock: Eastern Isles. This pinnacle has a number of sheer drops with narrow ledges to a wider ledge at 42m. The drop-off continues vertically from here, but I stopped at 48m!

Hard Lewis: St. Martins. A pinnacle dive for slack water or a quick descent to gain shelter from the tide behind the rock. Spectacular vertical walls plunge to 65m and are covered in soft life of every colour.

Pol Bank: 3 miles south of Bishop Light. As far as I know, this site is only visited by MV Mentor. It is an exciting dive for the experienced diver as the location is open Atlantic and the reef top is in 30m. A small plateau at this depth leads to a sheer drop all round to 90m. Marine life here is prolific and the visibility often staggeringly good.

Trenemene: Western Rocks. One of my favourite dives, where the pinnacle just breaks the surface and then drops away vertically all round to a maximum depth of 70m. Very colourful soft marine life, with a blenny or lobster in almost every crack! When the visibilty is good the colour reminds me of a Red Sea wall dive.

Isaacs Ledge: Western Rocks. Another electric pinnacle dive which begins in 2m and bottoms out at 50-55m. In good visibility it is all too easy to become absorbed by the life on the wall and find yourself running into decompression time.

Black Rock: Western Rocks. Seals are often encountered on this dive, which drops to 35m in a series of giant boulders and gulleys which are smothered with jewel anemones and dead mens fingers. In the shallows there is a cannon site, and apparently three unidentified wrecks have been lost here, one of which yielded gold coins, so keep your eyes peeled!

Inner Gilstone Rock: St. Marys. In the late 1960s this site was assumed to be the location of the HMS Association which was recorded as "lost on the Gilstone", and Sir Cloudesley Shovells body had been washed ashore on the adjacent Porth Hellick beach. Further confusion ensued when cannon were found in the shallows (some of which still remain), and much survey time was wasted before the Western Rocks were investigated. It is, however, a spectacular reef dive on the seaward side dropping through steep clefts and gulleys to a wide ledge at 28m, followed by a further drop to another at 41m. Anemones and gorgonians abound and the drop continues for those who need greater depth.

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