Discover a Different Cornwall Beneath the Waves

Published February 12th, 2021 Discover a Different Cornwall Beneath the Waves Published in: Nature

We conclusively know the land and beaches here in Cornwall generously offer a wealth of remarkable things to see and do. However the boundless seas surrounding Cornwall are equally enthralling and have lots to be discovered. Cornwall has more coastlines and wrecks than any county in the country.

The seas and coastline around Cornwall can be treacherous for boats and have undoubtedly caused many shipwrecks over the centuries, resulting in a unique marine graveyard. It certainly makes for an intriguing dive site for scuba divers. There are historic wrecks of all varieties lurking beneath the waters from sunken submarines to steamboats, with many surprises waiting in this unique resting place for water vessels. Not to mention the vibrant community of marine life that can be surprising to many who have not ventured into the underwater world here.

You will come across an extraordinary abundance and considerable variety of marine life, and some rare species. Anemones produce colourful underwater worlds where fish hide in the nooks and crannies, do watch out for conger eels that are known to hide in wrecks and nearby caves.

The Cornish waters are gently warmed by the Gulf stream, and favourable conditions vary greatly around the picturesque coast. Water is most temperate between June and September, around 16 C. January to March detects temperatures dropping to lows of 7 C, but you can dive all year round. Although it is during the summer months that water visibility is at its best and you will observe the broadest variety of wildlife.

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Visibility on a good day can tentatively reach 30 metres this typically tends to be further offshore at the deeper sites. Average visibility realistically is around 10 metres, zero visibility is rare. It is advantageous to check conditions before you venture out. Another key element to be aware of are the tidal ranges, there are some fast moving waters off the coast, that can reach more than six miles an hour. Thankfully, it becomes still after every high and low water. Be safe and check with a local dive expert before heading out, especially if diving un-guided.

There are a number of options possible to those that wish to properly explore these waters, you can either charter a boat and explore independently, or join a dive trip and explore the countless fascinating sites. With a number of reputable dive centres, to select from you will discover one to satisfy. Regardless of where you choose you are assured the utmost level of exceptional customer service and professionalism. You will find that all centres are passionate about promoting the fascinating underwater world here in Cornwall. They typically have the most up to date equipment and safety is above all first and foremost.

Most of the discovered shipwrecks are conveniently accessible, wreck dives range from exposed in the water to 90 metres below and beyond. You will find most reef life below 20 metres; seaweed does not grow at this depth.

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There is a spectacular diversity of sunken vessels in the region including, a Dutch ship Epsilon, a U-Boat from WW1, WWII liberty ship the James Egan Layne, an English submarine, a fishing trawler, steam ship called the Margerita, an auxiliary schooner Syracusa and many, many more.

The navy frigate HMS Syclla was intentionally sunk in 2004 to naturally create an extensive artificial reef for divers. At 113 metres long there is loads to carefully explore and it is swarming with fish.

There are depths to accommodate everyone, if you are more confident with snorkelling there is still plenty to discover, with three varying dive sites. The Manacles and the Runnel Stone are granite reefs that over the centuries have been responsible for many wrecks and are now home for a profusion of wildlife. The Runnel Stone is, furthermore, a marine conservation area and responsible for more than thirty shipwrecks.

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At Port Gaverne the gully between the headland and the island possesses less seaweed than most sites, so an excellent location to get the snorkel out.

Basking sharks are frequent visitors and can be invariably encountered skimming the surface for food in May and June, although huge they are harmless. Summer visitors can include oceanic sunfish and sea turtles; we are starting to identify more species that would normally be found in warmer Mediterranean and tropical waters. Seal and dolphin sightings are comparatively common. Dolphins are naturally inquisitive and will often come along and naturally play with divers.

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Night dives offer their own attractions, expect to see lobsters, crabs, dog fish, cuttlefish and octopus that venture out from their shrouded hiding places once the sun goes down.

There is a radically unfamiliar and fascinating world under the waves just waiting to be discovered. If you don’t already dive perhaps, you could look at incorporating a holiday here with learning a new skill. What exceptional memories you will take home with you.

If the weather is adverse and you can’t get exploring under water then make your way to the next best thing; the renowned Charlestown Shipwreck Centre. It holds the biggest collection of shipwreck artefacts on display in Britain.

Cornwall is genuinely a leading diving destination and provides one of the most satisfactory experiences you can have as a diver. However, do be careful, and follow the appropriate precautions.

For more information on dive site and all things diving here in Cornwall, check out