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Scotland Underwater: St Cats, Loch Fyne

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The next in a series of blogs about Scotland Underwater from Ross Mclaren…

Loch Fyne on Scotland’s west coast is a sea loch probably most well-known for the incredible sea food that comes from it and is sold across the UK and Europe. At 70km long and with a maximum depth of around 200m, it’s also Scotland’s longest sea loch, which means… plenty of opportunity for diving.

Although maybe just pipped to the title of “Most Dived Loch in Scotland” by Loch Long just to the east, Loch Fyne is an ever-popular destination for divers throughout the country and even the UK. She may be slightly further away from the central belt and Glasgow than Loch Long, but it’s more than worth it.

Coming from Glasgow, you actually drive around the head of Loch Long, down her west bank under the shadow impressive Arrochar Alps before continuing to follow the A83 into the unbelievable Glen Croe. The views alone from the Rest and Be Thankful at the top of the Glen looking back on the road you’ve taken is worth the extra drive.

With twenty-two dives sites in the Loch (according to Finstrokes), I won’t even pretend I’ve dived them all, there is more than enough to whet the appetite of any and all divers.

Aside from Finnart (or A-Frames) on Loch Long, I don’t think there is another dive site in Scotland as popular as St Cats, on Finstrokes it’s listed as Seal Reef and some also call it St Catherines. The name might be up for discussion, but its popularity is most definitely not and once you’ve taken a wee dook underwater it’s easy to see why. With plenty of parking, and a pretty easy entry and exit point, it can be really busy during the summer months… but sadly, not just with divers! The good old Scottish midge also appears to very much appreciate the site as well and enjoys a wee buffet courtesy a la diver… you have been warned! However, the site is well worth braving our wee pests.

Now there’s two ways to dive St Cats. The “main” dive is straight forward to be honest. Once you’ve dropped beneath the surface head directly out from the shore you come to a “drop off”. It’s not a cliff per-say, but it’s a pretty obvious slope. At this point head down to around 8 to 10m and simply turn right keeping the incline on your right-hand side. This isn’t the main part of the dive, but don’t rush too fast, keep an eye out here for the odd dogfish hanging around the slope. Keep finning at about 10m and eventually you pick up the rocky reef. From this point it is totally up to yourself as to your depth. If you’re looking for a shallower dive simply keep swimming across the reef and take as long as you like looking under all the rocks, there’s plenty of life to find.

Now, I make no promises here, but the last few dive days we’ve had here has rewarded us with an absolutely magnificent lobster at the far side of the reef. Best way to find it would be to head down edge of the rocks once you first hit them to about 16 to 18m. At this point, swim straight across the reef until you come to the end of the boulders. There should be a rather large rock, with another propped up against it, and on the far side of it, at the bottom the home of Mr Lobster. But, be careful, the claws are big. If you’ve not found it by swimming straight across simply swim up and down the far side edge of the boulders and it shouldn’t be too hard to spot.

Personally, I always tend to follow the edge of the rocks down to steel wire which stretches right across the reef at about 16 to 20m, I’ve no idea what it’s from, but it makes for a really good navigation point during the dive. Most people tend to use this as the start of their zig zag exploration of the reef, but if you are looking for depth swim over the top of the wire and continue to follow the rocks down to your chosen depth. I’ve only ever been to around 40m, and although there isn’t much in the way of life, there has been fireworks anemone found at depth and even the odd cuttlefish/bobtail squid. I’m not going to lie; this is the one and only time I’ve seen one during a dive and being around 37m at the time I did wonder if I was narked. I still like a wee look down deeper just on the off chance I come across it again… cause you know, obviously it hasn’t moved in the past year or so… one can dream.

Regardless of the depth you chose the dive itself is the same. Simply zig zag your way back up the reef taking your time. The rocks are absolutely teeming in life and there’s very often the odd lobster hiding away. Once you’re done exploring simply head back to the edge of the reef, now keeping the slope on your left at about 10m again and the fin back for about the same time it took you to reach the boulders and your back to the entry point. It’s as easy as that!

Now, if you are looking for something a wee bit different there is actually a “wreck” of a speed boat in the opposite direction to the reef. Many people will give compass bearings etc. to reach it, but I’ve found the easiest way to find it is to simply swim straight out and down from the entry point and head to around 18 to 22m. From here turn left keeping the slope on your left-hand side. Have your buddy swim at around 17m and you at about 21m (if visibility allows for it) and simply start finning until you come across it. Depending on your fin strokes, you should hit the wreck after about 4 to 7mins. The detour from the “main” dive to visit the speedboat is well worth it. The “wreck” is pretty much intact, though the seats seem to have miraculously detached themselves, and is now home to scores of squat lobsters, anemones and at one time a rather large “Ling”. Sadly, at some point over the last year or so, we think, someone has used the boat as practice for lift bags and actually turned the whole thing 1800 and in the process it would appear they’ve scared off the ling, which I’ll be honest is rather infuriating! My suggestion for taking in the speedboat is to do this first, once you’re finished exploring the “wreck”, head up the slope to a shallower depth and then head back along it keeping it on your right hand side. This will take you back to the entrance, however if gas/dive plan allows you can continue along to the “main” reef and do a slightly shallower zig zag checking out the boulders once again.

St Cats/Seal Reef/St Catherine’s is probably overlooked by many of us divers who regularly dive the sea lochs. We can be guilty of passing it off as just a “good training site”. But, it does offer a lot for most divers and in fact, with it’s nice little beach and secluded parking off of the main road, also makes it good for non-diving friends and family as well. It’s often used by local clubs and groups as a small campsite for those who fancy spending the weekend.


For more from Ross, follow him on Instagram @underwater.ross and on Twitter @outdoorsross.

Ross is a 30 year old chemistry teacher from the west of Scotland with a passion for scuba diving and trying to show off some of the unbelievable marine life right here on our doorstep. He started diving in 2016 and in the last 3 years really began to take his underwater photography seriously. He fully admits he's no professional photographer, marine biologist or diving expert; he's just someone with a relatively expensive camera who often presses the button and hopes for the best. Follow Ross on Instagram @underwater.ross and on Twitter @outdoorsross.

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Dive into Luxury: Bunaken Oasis Seeks Seventh Consecutive World Travel Awards Win

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In the vibrant heart of Sulawesi, Indonesia, nestled among the pristine waters of Bunaken Marine Park, lies Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort. For the past six years, this remarkable resort has been recognised as “Indonesia’s Leading Dive Resort” by the World Travel Awards, and it is now in contention for an unprecedented seventh consecutive win.

A Beacon of Excellence

The World Travel Awards are often referred to as the “Oscars of the travel industry,” celebrating the very best in global tourism and hospitality. Winning this award is no small feat and speaks volumes about the exceptional quality and service that Bunaken Oasis consistently delivers. This accolade is a testament to the resort’s unwavering commitment to providing unparalleled guest experiences.

Vote for Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort Here

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What Sets Bunaken Oasis Apart?

Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort is celebrated not just for its luxurious amenities but also for the deep, genuine care it extends to its guests. The resort offers a unique blend of elegance and adventure, providing world-class diving experiences in one of the planet’s richest marine biodiversity hotspots.

world travel awards

The true magic of Bunaken Oasis lies in its people. The resort’s staff are renowned for their warmth, professionalism, and dedication. From personalised diving excursions to bespoke hospitality, every team member plays a crucial role in creating a welcoming and memorable atmosphere. Their passion for excellence and attention to detail are key reasons why guests return year after year.

Vote for Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort Here

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Show Your Support

As Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort vies for its seventh title, the support of its loyal guests and admirers becomes even more crucial. Voting for the World Travel Awards is an opportunity for fans of the resort to show their appreciation and help ensure that this gem continues to shine brightly on the world stage.

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How to Vote

Supporting Bunaken Oasis is simple and impactful. Click the link below to show your support and cast your vote for Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort as “Indonesia’s Leading Dive Resort” on the World Travel Awards website.

Vote for Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort Here

Looking Ahead

Winning this award for the seventh time would be a crowning achievement for Bunaken Oasis, solidifying its status as a premier destination for luxury diving and relaxation. But more than the award itself, it is the ongoing support and love from guests that fuels the resort’s continuous pursuit of excellence.

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Whether you are an experienced diver or simply in search of a serene escape, Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort offers a sanctuary of beauty, tranquillity, and unparalleled service. Join us in celebrating this exceptional resort and help Bunaken Oasis secure its place as Indonesia’s leading dive resort for another year.

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Vote for Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort Here

For more information about Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and to experience its magic first-hand, visit their official website.

Dive into luxury and adventure at Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort – where every moment is crafted to perfection.

Email: info@bunakenoasis.com / WhatsApp: +44 7785 576331 / WhatsApp: +62 812 4649 6763 

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The Ocean Cleanup to Complete 100th Extraction Live from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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  • The Ocean Cleanup marks 100th extraction of plastic pollution from the Pacific Ocean by livestreaming entire cleaning operation from start to finish.
  • Occasion brings together supporters, partners, donors and followers as the project readies its cleanup technology for scale-up.
  • Founder and CEO Boyan Slat to provide insight on the plans ahead.

The Ocean Cleanup is set to reach a milestone of 100 plastic extractions from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Extraction #100, scheduled for 28 or 29 May 2024, will be the first ever to be livestreamed direct from the Pacific Ocean, allowing supporters and partners around the world to see up close how the organization has removed over 385,000 kilograms (nearly 850,000 lbs) of plastic from the GPGP so far – more than double the bare weight of the Statue of Liberty.

the ocean cleanup

The mission of The Ocean Cleanup is to rid the oceans of plastic. To do this, the non-profit project employs a dual strategy: cleaning up legacy floating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (the world’s largest accumulation of floating plastic), while stopping the flow of plastic from the world’s most polluting rivers.

The Ocean Cleanup captured its first plastic (the first ‘extraction’) in the GPGP in 2019 with System 001, following years of trials and testing with a variety of concepts. Through System 002 and now the larger and more efficient System 03, the organization has consistently improved and optimized operations, and is now preparing to extract plastic trash from the GPGP for the 100th time.

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Extraction #100 will be an interactive broadcast showing the entire extraction procedure live and in detail, with insight provided by representatives from across The Ocean Cleanup and partners contributing to the operations.

This is an important milestone in a key year for The Ocean Cleanup.’ said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. ‘We’ve come a long way since our first extraction in 2019. During the 2024 season, with System 03, we aim to demonstrate that we are ready to scale up, and with it, confine the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the history books.

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The livestream will be hosted on The Ocean Cleanup’s YouTube channel and via X. Monitor @theoceancleanup for confirmed timings.

www.theoceancleanup.com

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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