Diving in Scotland
Diving in the UK is brilliant, and we are incredibly lucky to have the entire west coast of Scotland on our doorstep with a brilliant range of dive sites as little as 45 minutes away from the University for divers at any level of experience. Whatever your interest is in, whether it’s marine biology, shipwrecks, underwater photography, or you just like floating weightlessly in the water, you will find people to dive with in GUSAC! Have a look below for more information on some of the places we dive.
We have a few different sites that we like to use for open-water training, which are sheltered sites in the inshore sea lochs and which have a nice, gently sloping seabed which is great for new divers or for practicing dive skills. Our more common training sites include Conger Alley and Finnart on Loch Long, St. Catherine’s Reef and Seal Reef at Loch Fyne and sites in Loch Creran and the Sound of Kerrera (near Oban) which we often use during our training weekends at the start of semester two.
The UK is surrounded by highly productive, temperate waters, which makes them ideal for supporting a huge amount of marine life, so productive in fact that the plankton in the water turns the seas green rather than blue like in the tropics! Every site we dive in is full of marine life from simple jellyfish and comb jellies to brightly coloured anemones and sponges, starfish and urchins, crabs and lobsters and some surprisingly colourful (and some plain weird) fish, rays and skate.
Most of the inshore sea lochs tend to have quite sheltered, ‘low energy’ dive sites (i.e. slight currents and little wave action) where you can dive on rocky reefs like at Conger Alley or on sheer cliffs with shoals of fish streaming over them like at Stallion Rock in Loch Fyne. For more experienced divers, there are more tidal and ‘high energy’ sites like at the blockships in Scapa Flow, or some particularly advanced sites in the Sound of Luing or Bo Fascadale (Sound of Mull) where strong currents keep the water crystal clear, and support an amazing diversity of anemones, soft corals, sea fans and sponges.
We have a number of marine biologists in the club and amongst our instructors, so there is plenty of help on hand to identify what you see on dives, and have been involved in writing and running a Marine Life Identification Course for divers for the last two years which have been very successful. We also encourage interested members to sign up for SeaSearch courses run by the Marine Conservation Society as a great way of improving your ID skills and to help monitor the changing life in our seas at a national level.
here are a huge number of shipwrecks around Scotland and the UK which can be dived and again, there is plenty of choice for everyone. For good ‘beginner’ wrecks, there is the Breda which lies in about 24m of water just outside Oban, and is still intact and upright (which always helps if you’ve never dived a wreck before!), and there is the Port Napier between Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh which lies from the surface to approximately 20m. Both are great for new Ocean Divers, and are open enough to allow divers to enter some parts of them.
More advanced wreck diving can be found in Scapa Flow and the Northern Isles (Orkney Isles) where seven warships from the WW1 German High Seas fleet can still be dived in the shelter of Scapa Flow, as well as more tidal wrecks in the Northern Isles. The Sound of Mull is also host to a large number of well-preserved and tide-swept wrecks, such as the Hispania, Rondo and Thesis and the Firth of Clyde on our doorstep also has some brilliant (if a little spooky) wrecks like the Akka, Beagle and Wallachia.
Many of our members are far more interested in underwater rust than marine life (although wrecks often make excellent artificial reefs), and you will always find someone willing to show you around a wreck or two!
With more and better digital cameras becoming readily available on the market alongside some good underwater housings, underwater photography is becoming more and more popular and it is rare now to go on a dive trip where no-one brings a camera! If you are a photographer, or want to learn how to take better underwater photos we have a number of photographers in the club (all the images on this website have been taken by members of GUSAC), and have run photography seminars and short courses for members in the past as well.
If you are an experienced diver and are looking to expand your skills range, many of the instructors in GUSAC are highly trained in mixed-gas diving or technical deep diving. While this type of diving does not form the majority of the dives carried out by GUSAC by any means, if you are at this level or wish to learn, we do have the facilities and expertise to help