Divers in the ‘70s & ‘80s, with a pocket full of pebbles, only needed to experience a couple of near misses in surf, and interesting tides, to confirm that the North Coast was not easy diving. Many of us were told there was nothing to see – and as a result focused on the gentler south coast for our explorations. As a result, marine biological records have gaps right from Bude through to Lands End and this challenge inspired St Agnes divers Emily Priestley & Angie Gall (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) to make a bid to try a north coast survey in May this year. Supported by Chris Lowe who runs ‘Atlantic Diver’, Newquay, a dozen experienced divers & scientists dived in tough conditions to survey Bawden Rock, and other reefs off Newquay.
Photos and samples showed a fabulous wealth of life just at our doorstep and made Bawden the jewel in the crown of North Coast diving for those lucky enough to get there. Dr Claire Goodwin increased the samples of sponges for the Ulster Museum’s collection by about 180 and rare examples of starfish were just a couple of highlights in a very busy week. Overall about 20 people contributed to a new start for marine biology records for the area.
The shore collecting was a real success too, with Prof. Juliet Brodie, seaweed expert from the Natural History Museum, pressing over 500 specimens representing 180 species from the shore between Trevone and St Agnes. One of the best areas was noted as the rock pools of Trevaunance Cove – so seasoned experts like Drs Keith Hiscock & Teresa Darbyshire from the MBA & Museum of Wales were assisted by local youngsters with their nifty use of nets & buckets. Joined by a common enthusiasm for exploring the sea from rock pools to sea stacks, St Agnes volunteers off all ages have made a big difference to our understanding of this fabulous stretch of coast – where there is always something interesting to see!