I wish I was a little otter

Today was my first salty(ish) dive of 2014. In what is now a tradition, my dive buddy and I find ourselves on the sea loch shores. This time, it’s Loch Creran. We couldn’t see a name for the location, either on the chart or the ordnance survey map, so we’ve called it Otter Rocks, after the pair of otters we watched swimming and feeding along the shore of the loch this afternoon.

Although the weather is quite mild (fine today, wetter as the week goes on), the water is quite cold. I’ve brought lots of layers for my under suit; let’s hope I’ve brought enough lead too!

Underwater, there was plenty to see: rays (and egg cases), clingfish, bib and the ubiquitous squatties, hermits, urchins, starfish. Even thought the site has that very fine silt characteristic of upper sea lochs, the creatures were quite clean, though the rocks looked pretty barren without kelp on them.

Today, I was trying my hand at super-macro (which I’m defining as better than 1:1), so the name of the game was to look for the tiny dramas. I chose my Nikon 60mm macro lens paired up with a Kenko 1.4x teleconverter. This gives me the chance of better than 1:1, whilst maintaining my working distance to the subject. It’s a trade-off really: too close and you spook the subject; too far and the water column steals the contrast and adds “snow”.

My 60mm (older, non-AFS version) has a close working distance, which suits the poor vis of this site, but does have a tendency to “hunt” rather. However, because this lens is comparatively slow focussing, it’s controllable though requires patience. I really enjoyed just laying still and watching all the tiny fish and crustaceans go about their business, just as soon as the giant invader with the camera stopped stirring things up. I only managed 50 mins before the cold got to me, though. I must be going soft!

Here’s a little clingfish I found. I’ve not seen many before, but their colour and somehow dog-like personality make them an attractive subject.



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