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Whelps Reef – Cornwall



After months of winter and spring storms the sea is once again being kind to us and diving slowly becomes the norm rather than a frantic jaunt in a brief weather window.

I joined Atlantic Scuba for an afternoon dive on Whelps Reef a few miles outside of the Falmouth Estuary. The boat was full as we eased our way along the coast and dropped anchor in the calm water.

Jeff GoPro

Jeff torchI decided to leave the main camera behind and concentrate on the GoPro while at the same time testing the Bigblue TL 2500P video light from Liquid Sports. This self-contained tech-light pumps out 2500 lumens in a very neat little body. There are four levels of brightness and SOS function. I will be doing a full review on the light later.

Jeff Dead Mans FingersThe visibility on the reef was OK at about 3 meters but there was lots of debris in the water. This is where the GoPro’s wide angle comes into it’s own, allowing you to get up close to subject yet keeping a good wide view of the scene.

Carpets of Dead Man’s Fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) adorned every available space. This species of soft coral is common around the coasts of the North Atlantic. The ‘fingers’ are made up of small polyps each having a mouth surrounded by eight tiny feathery-looking tentacles. The polyps feed at various times of the day with their tentacles extended. They are suspension feeders gathering plankton from the water with the help of cilia, and absorbing oxygen at the same time.

Jeff Purple anemoneCommonSea Urchins (Echinus esculentus) were also in abundance. They are common all around the rocky coasts of the UK and are a constant grazer of the sub-tidal rocky terrain eating mostly algae and encrusting invertebrates. The mouth is located centrally on it’s underside and comprises of a group of 5 specialised calcareous plates, known as an ‘Aristotle’s lantern’ which acts as a jaw.  Spawning mainly occurs in the spring and a large female may release about 20 million eggs into the water column. The larvae then become part of the plankton settling back on the sea bed mostly in autumn and winter generally below the kelp zone.

Jeff Starfish

There were several species of starfish including the seven armed starfish (luidia cillaris) which is found on stony terrain as well as sand. It can move surprisingly quickly and feeds mainly on other echinoderms such as urchins.

Whelps Reef is a great dive and basically runs from the shallows to 20m.

If you would like to dive the reef contact Mark at Atlantic Scuba – visit

Jeff Goodman is the Conservation editor and also the Underwater Videography Editor for Jeff is an award winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.


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Part one of a series of four videos.

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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