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Meadfoot: land, sea and air

We had a fairly good run of decent visibility recently and I took the opportunity to explore one of Torbay’s little hidden gems: the reef that runs out of the back of Shag Rock off Meadfoot beach. Given the good conditions I decided to photograph it from all angles – on land, in the sea and from the air to give a complete view of this overlooked little dive site.

Below: Shag Rock and Meadfoot beach. From this perspective the reef runs straight out from Shag Rock, away from the beach.

This day the sea was calm enough that you could see some of the many rocks that lie just beneath the surface, making for a very rich habitat for many marine species, but especially as a nursery ground for juvenile fish.

Meadfoot beach and Shag Rock
Meadfoot beach and Shag Rock

 

I love the view from just below Daddyhole Plain, it’s one of my favourites around Torbay. You can clearly see (near to far) Shag Rock, Thatcher Rock and the Ore Stone. All superb dive sites in their own unique way.

The swim out to Shag Rock can be done as an interesting dive, but as it takes around 20mins in full diving gear I chose to stay on the surface and save my air for the reef dive beyond the rock. After a brief rest (it’s a long swim!) sitting on the rock itself I headed out (south) over the undulating fingers of rock that spread out like a hand from the visible part of this rock.

Shag Rock reef
Shag Rock reef

Each ‘finger’ is home to many sponge species and Dead Men’s Fingers. All making use of the relatively high tidal stream that can occur out there. But one particular ridge is noticeable larger that the others and is literally covered in hundreds of large Plumose Anemones (the image at the top of this article is taken on this ridge using natural light).

A large Spiny Starfish
A large Spiny Starfish

Between the ridges of rock the seabed is a contrastingly barren mix of sand and shingle, but on this dive I came across a huge Spiny Starfish, and had to use my hand in the shot to give some idea of the size of this monster!

I also was lucky enough to spot my first ever Angler Fish. All-be-it a small juvenile, it still counts! These are gorgeous fish, and true denizens of the deep who are more closely associated with deeper water. This youngster was quite happy to sit on a nearby ledge and watch me bubble around his chosen hunting grounds.

Juvenile Angler Fish
Juvenile Angler Fish

This site is home to some of the densest beds of Dead Men’s Fingers in Torbay, certainly it’s the best spot for them that’s accessible from the shore (ok, but I know no everyone thinks that a 350m swim counts as a shore dive!). But it is also home to large numbers of anemones, crabs and nudibranchs, so much so that the next time I visit I’ll be taking my macro lens with me.

Plumose anemones
Plumose anemones