Type of Dive: Very good shore dive with loads of sea life.
Suggested experience: Sport/ocean diver
Travel directions: From the Corran Ferry take the A861 to Strontian. Before reaching Strontian turn left on the A884 towards Lochaline skirting around the top of Loch Sunart. After a couple of miles turn right down a minor road signed Laudale and follow this couple of miles along the side of the loch until you reach the pier. Marked on the OS map as a jetty.
Parking directions: You can park on the top of the pier itself or next to it, there is plenty of space Google
Distance from Glasgow:117 Miles 2 Hrs 58 Mins Google
Lat & Long: 56° 40' 36.00'' N 5° 39' 35.29'' W
Tides: Tide tables
Site entry/exit: Enter the water on whichever side of the pier looks easiest for you.
Underwater directions: There several ways you can dive this site as there is plenty to see.
Swimming straight out follow the slope straight down over a shingle/sandy bottom covered with thousands of brittle stars. Loads of dragonettes, different crabs and scorpion fish hide amongst the stones and scattered around are a few large boulders with anemones and sea squirts
Alternatively, you can swim down over the kelp and shingle to 6-8m and turn right to find a boulder slope that continues on down to around 20m and then becomes more of a reef stretching down to 35m. Loads of different sea stars long clawed squatties, leopard spotted gobies and a lot of very beautiful colonial ascidians that look like a starry covering on the rocks.
To find the flame shell beds head out to the left of the pier towards the narrows. Swim out over the kelp to around 15m. The seabed is covered with clumps of stones and shells with thousands of brittle stars on the top. These clumps conceal flame shells underneath. Gently turn these over to find the shells from which bright orange tentacles will emerge. Make sure you replace the stony covering over the top of the flame shell. Some of them may well take off squirting their way along in the water column before coming to rest again. I tended to take them back to where they originally had been and covered them up again.
Site Hazards: Best dived on or near to slack, especially if you are investigating the flame shell beds that are west towards the narrows where the tide can become very fast particularly on springs
Nearest Public phone: Contact me
Mobile Network service: Contact me
Other comments: There are golden eagles nesting in the hills above the Lochside here and the locals are very protective of these, as people have tried to steal eggs in the past. I was given to understand there is a camera and/or telescope trained on the nest at all times. Should you be in the area for any length of time you may find that someone will stop and chat to check what you are diving for. The flame shell beds are protected as they one of the few sites that exist in the uK and are much larger than those up at Loch Carron.
Pub: The Strontian Hotel Lochaline social club
Created by: Jane Wilkinson
Air & Nitrox: highlandbasecamp
Surface Photos: Contact me
Dive Map: Contact me
Dive Report: Jo Rawley Dived 6th Jan 2011 18m 53mins...Second dive of the day and rather low water made an interesting entry over very steep rocks and weed I opted for the right side of the pier as easiest but I could have been wrong. Very widespread flame shell beds - please don't disturb them due to the number of brittle stars that are coating everything - will destroy a nest far quicker than they can be rebuilt. Butterfish and scorpionfish, with sticklebacks in the shallows around the old pier legs. Again good viz and definitely worth diving.
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