After too long spent out of the water this winter it was great to get back in and get diving. Despite yesterday’s strong and variable winds Swanage provided a sheltered location, flat seas and vis in the order of 2-3m, even if a little on the milky side.
Happy that I could at least remember how to set my kit up, my thoughts next turned to my new toy. On the back of this year’s early success in the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2015 competition, I was taking my new Nauticam housing on its first ever dive. How would it fair? How would I get on with it? Despite the murky conditions I couldn’t resist trying out some close-focus wide angle with the mini dome port and my 15mm fisheye with 1.4x teleconverter.
To say the housing felt like a game-changer would be an understatement. What a joy to use. It was much lighter in the water than my old Ikelite housing, so less of a strain on the wrists and hands. Not only that but the ease of use of so many of the controls within quick reach of the finger tips was great, although it will take a little getting used to, trying to remember where all the buttons are. The vacuum leak-detection system also provided huge peace of mind before and throughout both dives. I can’t wait to get diving again with it. If I had but one niggle it would be the neoprene cover for the mini dome port being fiddly to get back on before walking out over the rocks. It did keep falling off but some bungee loops to hook around a few controls soon sorted that.
Despite the murk, Polly and I managed to find a few subjects to photograph but being early spring, life is still a bit sparse beneath the pier. Fish were relatively few and oddly we saw not one hermit crab. The Plocamium seaweed (cock’s comb) is present as a thick turf , covering most hard surfaces where light is available.
Velvet swimming crabs were out and about is good numbers and seemed to be taking advantage of squid on offer in what seem to be increasingly popular crab traps – a kid of mesh bag dropped to the seabed with another bag in the centre filled with bait. These seem all very well until they get snagged and we also found several of the smaller bait bags floating around – I hope the pier doesn’t become too littered with them. As it was we picked up various bits of litter including Christmas ribbons, plastic toys, crisp packets, a fine pair of sharp scissors and some odds and ends of fishing line.