An unusual encounter with the Highland Dancer

Recently whilst diving at one of our local sites we came across an animal we had never seen before. It turned out to be a member of the sea slug family, though significantly larger than most common sea slugs, called the Highland Dancer Pleurobranchus membranaceus see photo below. These beautiful, yet odd looking creatures are found from the Western Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast of Ireland and France as well as the British Isles. An individual is usually about 70mm in length. They swim upside-down using an undulating foot to propel them through the water.

Sea slugs are part of the phylum mollusca, which encompasses animals such as bivalves and squid. The Highland dancer has a hidden in internal shell, different from say a mussel that has an exterior shell. When we saw the Highland Dancers there was an individual every metre or so laying a beautiful ribbon of eggs. The Highland Dancer is well camouflaged, probably the reason we had never noticed the species before. Yet the ribbon of eggs are bright white and each ribbon contains more than one million eggs. It was quite a magical experience watching them lay their ribbon of eggs.

The problem of Ocean acidification

Termed the ‘other carbon dioxide problem’ ocean acidification is becoming an increasing threat to the world’s oceans. Ocean acidification is the result of increased carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from human activity such as burning fossil fuels, cement manufacturing and deforestation. The ocean is a carbon sink with 25-30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions being absorbed by the ocean, equivalent to ca. 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide absorbed hourly. This absorption of carbon dioxide on such a large scale is causing the oceans to become more acidic.

This is bad news for many marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers such as shell fish and corals. The more acidic water means that it is harder and more costly for many species to grow and develop. If the ocean continues to increase in acidity, reefs across the planet could be in dissolution states, which basically means coral structures will be breaking down in the increased acidity. As coral reefs are home to the widest biodiversity on the planet, if this were to happen it could be detrimental for many species.

Moreover, the effect of increasing acidity of the ocean could also impact countries economically worldwide. In the Northwest Pacific the effect of the acidity has already cost the oyster industry US$110 million, which puts 3,200 jobs at risk. With a growing population across the plant, achieving food security in the face of ocean acidification could be crucially important.

So what can you do to reduce the effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms?

  • Reduce your fossil fuel consumption- switch your energy provider to one which uses renewable energy sources. Drive less, use more public transport, car share or walk.
  • Be a conscientious consumer- don’t buy product that contain palm oil for example, as most palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation of the rain forest which is a massive carbon store.
  • Promote healthy marine environments- healthy ecosystem are more resilient to stresses such as ocean acidification. You can do this by simple things like doing a litter pick when you go down to your local beach.
  • Whilst diving reduce your impact on the marine environment with good trim and avoid touching marine organisms.
Seal Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Seal Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Scuba diving or snorkelling with seals is an amazing and memorable wildlife encounter and one of the most thrilling underwater experiences imaginable. Plunge into the cool waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and snorkel or scuba dive with the Grey Seal colony found around the infamous Blasket Islands. Interact with these playful and inquisitive wild animals in their natural habitat and on their terms. This day trip is one of the best activities you can undertake during your stay in Dingle! Not only will you snorkel/dive with the seals, but you will also experience the breath-taking views of The Blasket Islands from sea and view the stunning marine and coastal life found in and around our waters!

Check availability on our scuba diving or snorkelling seal trips

Contact us on +353(0)879111643 or email at info@divedingle.com.

 

Eastern Atlantic Grey Seal facts:

Seal Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
Grey seals have been known to dive to depths of up to 300 metres and stay underwater for up to 20 minutes!

Adult male statistics and info:

  • Measure between 1.95-2.5m in length
  • Weigh between 170-310kg
  • Males reach sexual maturity at 4-6 years of age, however may not attain territorial status until 8-10 years of age.
  • Live up to 25 years of age on average, with 29 years being the maximum recorded age.
  • Males tend to have dark brown-grey coats, sometimes nearly black with a few lighter patches.
  • Male adults have a distinctive long “Roman” nose with wide nostrils.

Seal Scuba Diving and SnorkellingAdult female statistics and info:

  • Measure between 1.65-2.1m in length
  • Weigh between 103-180kg
  • Females reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years of age
  • Live up to 35 years of age on average, with 46 years being the maximum recorded age.
  • Females are usually light grey-tan coloured, lighter on the front with dark spots and patches.

 

 

A big thank you to all!

Here at DMDC we are folding up our wetsuits and emptying our tanks, reflecting on what a great year it has been. As with any business in its first year, there have been obstacles, but with the help and support of all our friends we made it a year to remember. From Open Water courses all the way through to Divemaster, we couldn’t have asked for more talented students or better conditions. For all their help and advice we have to thank John, Eric and Fergal, who were always there when we needed a skipper or had engine troubles, and also the folks at Waterworld for their warm welcome to the industry. We also have to thank our regular customers, Maureen, Piers, Matthias, Louic, Niall, Kiel and Conor, who were always keen to get out on the water rain or shine. We had such a fantastic year exploring the dive sites of Dingle, old and new, and hope to see you all again next year!

Night dive at Thunder Cove (Fungie’s Bedroom)

Dingle is lauded for its beauty, with rolling green hills and multi-coloured buildings, accentuated by the sun of a lovely summers day. But it’s when the sun goes down that Dingle truly shines. The harbour buoys flash like fireflies in the distance, each unique in their own pattern, guiding visitors through the narrow channel. The water flat as glass. On a crisp summer night, two words are ringing through our heads. Night dive.

As the yachters are furling their sails for the day, we leave the marina for Cuas na Toirneach (Thunder Cove). The suspense among the passengers is only augmented by the five knot speed limit within the harbour. Finally we reach the cove, the bow of the boat slicing through the water like butter, and drop the anchor. Fungie takes a look to check that its secure, then gives us a short spy-hop to confirm its placement. We gear up and as the last rays of twilight shine, we jump in.

When we reach the bottom we signal “OK” with our torches to our fellow divers. We then navigate to a tunnel like swim-through, the walls of which are covered with pink Dahlia Anemones, yellow Beadlet Anemones, and a Jewel Anemone for every colour of the spectrum. Most fish are sleeping peacefully, so divers must careful not to disturb them, but the lobsters are hard at work, marching along the seabed. If you’re lucky you may spot an unusually fleshy rock, which, frightened by the bubbles, reveals itself to be an impeccably camouflaged octopus.

After perusing through the darkness, we follow a cuttlefish back to the boat and begin our ascent. Now, ask any diver, and they will tell you the best part of a night dive is reaching the surface, lying on your back, and staring up at the constellations. We shake off our gear and after a little stargazing we board the boat and head back to the twinkling lights of Dingle feeling satisfied and ready for bed.

Wreck Diving - Dive Dingle Marine Centre

The Best Wreck Dives in Dingle Bay, Ireland

Wreck Diving - Dive Dingle Marine CentreDingle Bay has a rich history of wreck diving that can be found within a short boat trip from our Dive Centre in Dingle Harbour.

We have picked out some of our favourite wreck dives in Dingle:

The Three Brothers

A local fishing trawler, 30m of steel, that struck rocks nearly thirty years ago.  She lies in sheltered waters, lying between 18–30m, and has remained almost completely intact since then.   The structure of the wreck has become host to an abundance of vibrant and colourful anemones and sponges. Even the mast, complete with crows nest, remains unbroken, though you won’t see metal for the marine life encrusted on it.

Location: Near Black Head off the west point of Great Blasket Island

Verdict: A dive not to be missed and my own personal favourite.

U.S.S. Quebra

A historic steamer that lies 1in 5-40 metres of water .   It sank in 1916 whilst aiding the war effort.  The Quebra changed course to avoid a sited submarine and she ran on to treacherous rocks.

Her precious cargo, consisting of wire, brass sheeting and artillery shells, can now be found strewn across the rocky gullies, vying for attention amongst the abundant marine life. But beware; although the Navy cleared most of the live shells in the 1980s, some still remain!

The large boilers remain upright and intact and are home to numerous critters including Tompot Blennies, Conger Eels and Squat Lobsters to name but a few. The wreck has weathered many an Atlantic storm and the remainder of the wreck is somewhat broken up, but has formed a delightful artificial reef on which the local marine life has flourished.

Location: Off the north face of Great Blasket Island

Verdict: A great dive for both Wreckies and Naturalists alike.

The Manchester Merchant

This cargo liner that caught fire off the Irish coast. It was brought into Dingle Bay and was scuttled in 15 metres of sheltered water.

Above water you will be treated to glorious views of the MacGillycuddy Reeks on the Iveragh Peninsula to the south and the Sieve Mountains of the Dingle Peninsula to the north. Below water you will find a vast and largely intact wreck, which is teaming with Bib and Poor Mans Cod. It is also home to many large Lobsters, Velvet Swimming Crabs and other Crustaceans.

Location: Close to Inch Beach and the Cromane mussel beds

Verdict: An ideal wreck dive for all levels of diver

Interested in Wreck Diving in Dingle? – please contact us!

learn to dive with Dingle Marina Dive Centre

Scuba Diving for Kids

learn to dive with Dingle Marina Dive CentreWe are proud to offer scuba diving programme for kids and now that the diving season is well under way here in Dingle it is a great time for your child to learn to scuba dive.

Anyone from 10 years upwards can do our Discover Scuba Diving Programme

What you will learn

  • Experience scuba diving under the direct care and supervision of a PADI Pro.
  • Take their first breaths underwater in water shallower than 6 metres.
  • Learn about and use scuba diving equipment
  • Have lots of fun diving and breathing underwater.

Age Restrictions

Young people can take the full PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification course and upon completion will become Junior Open Water Divers with certain age limitations for scuba diving:

  • Junior Open Water Divers ages 10-11 years old must dive with a PADI Professional or certified parent/guardian. Dives must not exceed 12 metres /40 feet.
  • Junior Open Water Divers ages 12-14 years old must dive with a certified adult.

Are you ready to Dive?

  • Of course, most importantly, do you want to learn to dive?
  • Are you medically fit to dive?
  • Are you comfortable in the water, and can swim?  You will need to be able to pass a swimming test.
  • Can you listen to and learn from class discussions, pool and open water briefings with an instructor?
  • Can you learn, remember and apply multiple safety rules and principles?
  • Are your reading skills sufficient to learn from adult-level material?
  • Will you feel comfortable telling an instructor about any discomfort or not understanding something?

Interested in Scuba Diving in Dingle? – please contact us!

 

Consuming sustainable seafood

Why bother with going to the effort of getting sustainable seafood?

If you enjoy eating seafood, and want to continue to eat it throughout your life, I would suggest you consider thinking about consuming sustainable products. Almost 80% of fish stocks are fully or over exploited, so fish for dinner could become a rare delicacy in the future. With more and more effort needed to go into catching the sparse remaining stocks, the price of seafood is bound to increase. Furthermore, as diver and lover of nature you should care about what seafood you buy; most dives would be very boring if there was no life to look at!

What can you do to make a difference?

Consumers of seafood can make a massive difference by putting pressure on supermarkets, to source sustainably. This means catching and farming seafood in away that is least harmful to the environment. Download the good fish guide on your phone or the pocket guide on your laptop from the Marine Conservation Society, to help you shop for the sustainable choice of seafood. The Marine Conservation Society also has on their website ‘Fish of the Month’ which are the most sustainable choices for the season with fantastic recipes. So check that out and give some of the recipes a try. You can also make a difference by spreading the word about sustainable seafood, encouraging your family and friends to choose sustainable products when in the supermarket. Furthermore, one of our biggest problems is that we like to eat the same fish every week, one really simple way to choose better is to mix it up! Don’t stick to the big 5 (Salmon, Cod, Haddock, Tuna and Prawns) widen your horizons and try something new!

Ghost fishing

What is ghost fishing?

‘Ghost fishing is a term used for lost or abandoned gear which continues to fish’.

Ghost fishing can be detrimental for not only the species intended to be caught in it, however, many animals such as seals and dolphins get tangled in the nets, this can cause serious damage and can even kill them. Abandoned nets also cause damage to important marine habitats such as coral reefs and benthic organisms. The nets drag along the floor with currents, damaging delicate organisms such as soft corals and starfish. Ghost fishing also causes economic loss of target species, an estimated 90% of species caught in ghost nets are of commercial value.

Commonly it is the nets used passively that cause the great amounts of incidents, such as pots and fish traps, longlines and gill nets tend to trap and tangle animals. If the gear is floating near the surface it can also be a danger to boat users, as floating net can get caught in boat props.

Schemes and incentives are being put in place to encourage fisherman and boat users to hand into port lost and abandoned gear found in the ocean. Furthermore, biodegradable escape doors in fish traps and lobster pots, which degrade when the traps are in the water over a certain amount of time, are being developed so the traps become less harmful. However, this does not stop the problem of marine debris. The development of better sonar imagery will be to make it easy to find lost traps and nets, though this is still time consuming and costly. There is no simple and easy solution to ghost fishing, though if you are out at sea please collect any litter or ghost gear you come across. If you live in the Dingle area you can bring it into Dingle Marina Dive Centre and we would be more than happy to take it off your hands.

By Hannah Green, Marine Biologist and Divemaster in training

Fungie the dolphin

Fungie is Dingle’s gem. He is a bottlenose dolphin that arrived in Dingle Harbour around 1984 and who since then has never left. He must have been a fully grown adult by this stage, because the locals guess he has been alive since the mid-70s, which means he is probably around 40 years old! Nobody really knows how and why Fungie came to Dingle. Bottlenose dolphins usually live in pods, but perhaps Fungie was separated from his at a young age, or maybe he chose to leave, electing for a sedentary life rather than a life traversing the vast, harsh oceans. Either way he is never short of company in the Dingle harbour, as the boats travel out each morning to frolic alongside the playful dolphin.

Many people find it hard to believe that a dolphin can live for so long, and so the presence of Fungie is surrounded by rumour and speculation on how such an occurrence can really be. Some say he was replaced some years ago by another dolphin, some say the locals are constantly releasing dolphins into the harbour and Fungie is really many different dolphins, and some say he is incontrovertibly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a robot. But here at Dingle Marina Dive Centre, we see him every day, and see the distinctive nick in his dorsal fin, and most importantly we see how he behaves. We see the way he likes to ride in our wake as we speed up, and the way he likes to follow our anchor as we drop it to the ocean floor, and that’s how we recognize the Fungie that everybody knows and loves.

There is undoubtedly something special and mysterious about Fungie, having lived so long, and having come to Dingle for reasons unknown. Even those who seem uninterested in seeing Fungie become excited and amazed by his size and his attitude. You can count on Fungie, he will be there, rain or shine, and for that Dingle owes him a lot. Underwater your chances of seeing Fungie are slim, as he is often preoccupied with entertaining the spectators within the harbour. Though I always keep an eye out for him, and often hear him while diving in the harbour, so hopefully one day we will happen across one another under the sea.

By Edmond Sacre