NARC in Action 2014

Folly Farm April 5th 

Press Release Penguins team up with NARC divers to protect marine life

We were please to visit Folly Farm in April who are raising awareness and money for NARC in a new partnership. The tourist attraction, which recently housed 24 endangered Humboldt penguins, is now a fundraiser for us raising money to enable underwater dives that protect wildlife from the dangers of discarded ocean litter. Folly Farm’s latest partnership demonstrates a commitment by the family destination to taking care of the environment. The new penguin enclosure was installed with an eco-friendly saltwater pump system, making it the first saltwater enclosure for penguins in Wales and one of the most environmentally conscientious and technologically advanced in the UK. The full press release is here.

Skomer MNR May 2nd

With the sea temp well and truly still in single figures 8 NARC volunteers jumped into the waters of Wales’ only Marine Nature Reserve. After targeting the popular angling ledges of Low Point, East Hook and West Hook and giving it 45 mins of bottom time our lifting trays were sent to the surface. 285 weights; 174 hooks; 9 spark plugs; 1 lobster pot; 6 beer bottles; 2 balls; 1 reel and the obligatory angling line. Not what you would like to find in a Marine Nature Reserve but better out than still in! We will be back on more than one occasion in 2014. 

Hobbs June 7th 

6 volunteers gathered on an overcast day for the first dip of the year at Hobbs Point. 50 mins and 3 metre viz left us with 4 shopping trolleys, a buggie, a wheel clamp, a computer mouse, rods, bottles, cans, line and 28 weights. 

Hobbs July 6th

Neptune Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC) has discovered a van at the bottom of the sea during the voluntary group’s recent dive off Hobbs Point. As well as the barnacle covered Mitsubishi Colt, which is thought to have been down there for about six months, the divers were greeted with extraordinarily clear visibility and some unusual findings of a computer key board and four mobile phones.

The group, which dive this site several times a year, also unveiled more common debris such as bottles, angling gear, car tyres and bikes. Blaise Bullimore, voluntary NARC diver and marine biologist, said: “We were surprised to find the van but thanks to the good conditions on the day, we were able to examine it carefully. Based on the marine wildlife growing on and inside the van, I’d estimate it’s been done there for well under a year.”

The group also stumbled across huge piles of dumped shellfish. The piles were made up of whole and parts of edible crabs and razor clams, many of which were tied together by elastic bands. The full press release is here

Skomer MNR July 19th

The second visit of the season to the MNR saw 10 volunteers jump in at Low Point and bag 78 weights, hooks, line, bottles and cans. A team of three volunteers also managed to find and lift 6 lost lobster pots which were ghost fishing. All the animals were released from the pots. 

Barafundle Ledges and Stackpole Quay July 20th

10 volunteers, sunshine, great cake and calm seas = a nice day on Atlantic Blue. Barafundle ledges were first up with the visibility at a surprising low of 2-3 metres. A fairly strong running tide kept things just on the manageable side where after 40 mins 9 divers collected 54 weights/87 hooks/a bag of line/2 wellies/plastic bottles/rubber. 

Stackpole Quay was next up where 9 became 10 after the National Trust kindly loaned me a kayak to join the boat. Again low vis did not make things easy although the current was nothing like the previous dive. 60 or so minutes of bottom time saw us bag 60 weights/ 64 hooks/a complete and quite new rod and reel/ 3 cans and angling line.

Stackpole Quay August 2nd

We were invited to be part of a Marine Day organised by The National Trust at Stackpole. The event was aimed at increasing awareness of the fantastic marine life found in Pembrokeshire and involved sand sculptures and rock pooling. 5 volunteers donned scuba gear and dived into what was the worst visibility we have ever seen at Stackpole making it almost like a Hobbs Point dive! After 45 mins of 1-2 ft vis we managed to bag 23 weights, 30 hooks, line, 1 can and what looked like a bed sheet!  

Skomer MNR/ Barafundle Ledges August 19th/20th 

NARC were honoured to be diving with World Animal Protection over 2 days targeting lost Lobster Pots in an attempt to not only remove the items but also to raise awareness of the impacts. We were joined by 23 volunteers over two days diving which included Barafundle ledges and our first ever wreck clean.  Trainers, wellingtons, 80 weights, line and hooks were collected at the ledges.  The Behar wreck came next in the Haven where we lifted 6 lost lobster pots and 1 prawn pot. 

The following day saw us head once again to Skomer and bag 7 lost lobster pots which were ghost fishing. We managed to release 3 lobsters, 26 crabs and a Wrasse. Low Point came next with 68 weights, line, hooks, cans, bottles. 3 of the team lifted 3 lost lobster pots off High Point one of which was ghost fishing. We released 5 spider crabs. 

Skomer MNR August 31st 

11 volunteers were involved in a massive effort to lift 13 lost lobster pots from within the MNR (Junco Rock and High Point). 3 lobsters and 3 crabs were released from ghost fishing pots before they were sent to the surface. Some of the pots were given back to local fisherman as they were lost in winters storms. 

Hobbs Point September 21st 

Warm, sunny and a record breaking 5 metre viz greeted 5 volunteer divers on Sunday morning. Our 3rd visit of the year to this part of the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC that attracts fly tipping was timed to support the MCS Great British Beach Clean weekend. We were also thankful to 5 onshore volunteers, the Port of Milford Haven and the Maritime Volunteer Service for the boat support. The great viz actually gave us a chance to see the diversity of marine life at Hobbs. It also made us realise how much litter is actually on the seabed with the weight of large items such as tyres, trailers and boat engines giving us no chance to lift them! 

In a 45 minute dip we did manage to bag 42 weights/33 hooks/line/2 reels/3 rods/6 crab lines/2 scissors/ 2 trainers/ 1 shopping trolley/ 1 scooter/ 7 bottles/ 6 cans/ an engine filter/ 1 head torch/ 1 tyre/ 1 knife/ matting/ plastic sheeting/ netting and a laptop. Not quite what you would expect to find in a Marine Conservation area! We also released a lobster and spider crab from entanglement and enjoyed some splendid post dive cake.

Skomer MNR October 1st

Our 5th trip to Skomer MNR in 2014 saw us joined by BBC Radio 4. After one of the most spectacular summers for what seems like years it actually rained! Miranda Krestovnikoff, our own Dave Kennard and the Costing the Earth team dived into the waters of Wales’ only Marine Nature Reserve to broadcast from 14 metres down.

The programme covering marine litter is due to be aired on October the 14th. A great way to help raise awareness of marine litter and also how the work of volunteer divers can help.