On a crisp sunny day early in the year a fishing boat is the only vessel left at the moorings off the village of Ardentinny, the handful of pleasure craft found here during the summer months have long since gone to their winter storage. This is Loch Long a finger of sea water that extends for many miles into the Scottish mainland. Steep slopes on land continue below the surface to give deep water close to shore. The seabed under the fishing boat is at a depth of around 18 metres and can be reached with less than a minutes finning from the shore – ideal for an easy dive.
Now although the depth profile of sea lochs lends itself to shore diving this does not mean that you are always going to find exceptional marine life and stunning reef topography, most of this site falls very much into the average bracket. For me however it is the seabed moorings that act like a magnet much as they do for lots of other stuff particularly under the fishing boat where two spectacular sea anemone species can be found.
The anemones are not found below any of the other moorings nor do they appear as isolated specimens on the adjacent seabed. Of the two species the horseman anemone is the most numerous at this site and as the image above suggests the most colourful. With horseman anemones however it is not just colour that delivers visual impact it is size, they can extend to greater than 30 cm in diameter.
As indicated by its name the deeplet anemone is not regularly encountered in water as shallow as this. Again this is a fairly large anemone species reaching up to around 30 cm in diameter although the couple of individuals encountered here do not come particularly close to this maximum size. Larger specimens are generally found in much deeper water. The seabed habitat in the immediate area is not quite right for either of the anemone species described and it is likely that they have been introduced as catch discards from the fishing boat.
The appeal of diving around moorings relates directly to human intervention where anything thrown overboard along with the mooring blocks, anchors and chains will often slew the habitat and introduce unexpected or unusual marine life. Obviously they are great places for underwater photography but care is required and consideration must be given to how and where you leave the water. The dangers of surfacing under or close to a manouvering vessel must be taken into account.