Finding and identifying marine life

As the waters warm up and viz improves more people will be getting back in the water to look for marine life. Having spotted something interesting how can you identify and record this and if you are looking for a particular species how can you be certain that you are looking in the right place.

Compact digital cameras make it easier to take a picture and have a record of what you have seen however this still leaves the issue of finding and identifying elusive creatures.

PADI Underwater Naturalist or the SeaSearch Observer courses are ideal first steps. PADI Underwater Naturalist provides an introduction to the aquatic realm, classification systems, aquatic life, aquatic organisms and human impact on the aquatic realm. There are courses available every month go to the Training Schedule to check out dates.

SeaSearch Observer is a one-day course aimed at giving divers new to the SeaSearch project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. It covers the aims, history and achievements of SeaSearch as an organisation, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in British and Irish waters, an introduction to recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the Observation Form. You can then use these skills either for your own identification and recording purposes or to help in recording data for SeaSearch. There is a SeaSearch course at Selsey on the 13th and 14th July 2013 which provides an opportunity to complete the course and two dives one from the boat and one under Selsey Lifeboat Station. This enables you to put your skills into practice with someone to support you. If you would like more information or to join this course please contact the Dive Centre. We have a program of SeaSearch dives at Selsey throughout the year so if you would like these dates then check out the Dive Schedule.

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When to use an SMB

You want to be certain that when you are diving other water users (boats, jet-skis, surfers, kayaks etc) know where you are and if you are diving from a boat it is even more important to make certain your dive skipper knows where you are! So:
• If you are shore diving then you need to take a marker buoy with you and keep it with you at all times, so those on and in the water and on the beach (fishermen) know where you are. For this use a marker buoy which is inflated when you enter the water.
• If you are diving from a boat then your dive skipper will tell you when he expects to see an SMB deployed. This will normally be a delayed SMB and options include:
o If you are diving on a wreck then deploying the SMB as you commence either your ascent or leave the wreck.
o If you are drift diving then you either deploy your delayed SMB on the surface before descending or as soon as you reach the bottom.
• If you are not certain of local conventions for a dive then contact the local dive centre, boat skipper you are diving with or harbour master.

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Making your dive last longer – conserving air

No one likes to feel that they are limiting their buddies’ dive time however it is a fact that some people breathe more than others. Below are some tips to help you improve your air comsumption:
• Streamline yourself and your equipment. This makes movement through the water more effective, reduces workload and hence breathing rate.
• Ensure that you are correctly weighted, too much weight means that you are working harder to control your buoyancy.
• Stay within your limits, if you are comfortable and relaxed diving then your breathing will be comfortable and relaxed.
• Move slowly , conserve energy if the dive site is that good then come back again.

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Staying warm in cold water

No one likes to feel cold when they are diving however some of our best diving can be when the water is colder. Being cold spoils your enjoyment of the dive and is some cases may mean that you have to cut the dive short. If you want to stay warm and toasty then the answer is to dive dry – that is dive in a dry suit! Below are a few more tips on staying warm:
• Layer up – it is better to build up layers of insulation with multiple layers each trapping air rather than one very thick layer.
• Start warm – arrive at your dive site warm and then stay wrapped up and warm whilst you prepare to dive. If you are cold when you arrive or get cold putting your kit together then you will not warm up under water only chill off even quicker.
• Stay warm – underwater move around, no need to dash but if you keep gently moving you will definitely be warmer than staying still in one place.
• Eat before you dive – not immediately before you dive but make certain you have calories of your body to burn.

To help you layer up this month’s equipment offer is 12.5% off all under suiting sets (Oceanic, Lavacore and Fourth Element).

If you would like to receive a copy of our monthly newsletter then e-mail us at info@mulberrydivers.co.uk.

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Avoiding regulator freeflows in cold water

It is not just you that prefers warmer temperatures, one of the common problems diving in colder weather is regulator free flows. So below are some ways to avoid regulator free flows in the winter:
• Avoid pressing the purge button – this sends a blast of freezing cold air through your second stage. Set your kit up and test it by breathing from the regulator then turn your air off, breathe the regulator down and leave the air turned off until you are ready to dive.
• Avoid taking a few breathes from your regulator on the surface then taking the regulator back out. The condensation from your breathe can cause the second stage to freeze. Put the regulator in your mouth, then keep it there and breathe from it slowly and consistently.
• Avoid banging or knocking your regulator as again this can send a blast of cold air through the second stage.
• Have your regulators serviced regularly in line with your manufacturer’s instructions. This helps to ensure that your regulator is set up correctly.

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11th March 2012 – Selsey Lifeboat Station – improved visibility

With many thanks to Justin Evans for the photos……….the visibility under the Lifeboat has improved with the recent settled weather; this morning (on the HW-4 slack when visibility is not as good as the HW+3 slack) there was 3m visibility until the tide turned – it was noticeable that closer to the shore kept the visbility the longest.

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3rd March 2012 Want to see Scorpion Fish and Nudibranchs?

After being calm and sunny all day yesterday in the early hours of the morning the wind went southerly. This reduced the viz from over 2 to less than 1 metre. Rain also took this opportunity to pour. So a wet kit up for those who went diving. Still lots to see including scorpion fish, squat lobsters, nudibrachs, velvet swimming and edible crabs. However not such a comfortable experience as some surge which made photography interesting. However as can be seen from the pictures kindly provided by Barry Jarvis still achievable. The sun is once again shining however the current weather forecast means that we are now expecting similiar conditions for tomorrows marshalled dive.

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2nd March 2012 – Selsey Lifeboat Station

It’s been several months since we were last able to dive the Lifeboat Station; with settled weather all this week and signs that visibility was improving,  we took advantage of the convenient slack water at 0815 to start the day with a dive.  A quick stroll along the walkway suggested the best conditions would be found closer to the beach so we descended by the second walkway leg and swam towards the Boathouse – visibility was consistently 2m+ although grainy – swimming out to the back of the Boathouse and slightly East, we noted that the sandy area seemed to have increased significantly.

Plenty of marine life – dahlia anenomes of all sizes and several different colours were plentiful and easy to see with no weed -  hermit crabs scuttled in all directions and a small tompot blenny watched us from beside one walkway leg (this was the only fish seen). This was the first dive with the Canon Ixus 115 HS / Ikelite housing - I was impressed with the camera’s ability to put itself into macro mode without me having to touch a button. It seemed to cope with the moving fan worm well at the end of the dive.

One point to note on exit – there is now a small slope by the first walkway leg after the end of the groyne; the very fine shingle on this slope provides no support and hence your feet sink into the shingle if you are walking backwards as an exit.

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20th November – Diving again :-)

A lessening in the wind (although still from our least favourite Easterly direction) meant that for the first time for several weeks, offshore diving was possible. We combined with Stormforce to make sure that everyone who had booked got a dive – with the water temperature still at 12-13C then it doesn’t quite feel quite like November. First dive was the Shirala -  visibility between 5-7m – everyone we asked commented on the profusion of common Starfish; some divers saw Cuttlefish in addition to various cargo remnants. Second dive was the Mulberry – visibility somewhat less here, probably 2-3m and described as murky -  it appears that some of the marine life may have already left for their winter holidays elsewhere since most of the divers reported less life than normal.

 

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2nd October – Selsey Lifeboat Dusk / Night Dive

Perfect weather – calm water, good visibility and a slack water time which meant we could dive before Dinner. We spent most of our time on the right hand side of the Station, just seawards of the line to the anchor………..lots of life including cuttlefish, pipefish, many scorpion fish and a Stalked Jellyfish (only seen on the photo afterwards!). Courtesy of David Nardini and Justin Evans there are several photos on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/mulberrydivers.

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