The trip began with a gloriously sunny day and a scenic flight out on one of the Falklands ' Islander planes to Port Stephen on West Falkland where the trip would begin and the group would meet their boat. Once all had landed, Peter and Ann Robertson from the nearby farm kindly drove everyone and their gear to were the yacht was moored in the nearby inlet.The expedition crew and the Damien II
With seven people squeezed onboard the yacht Damien II, a carcass of mutton hung on board and all the dive tanks neatly stashed the group were ready to set off. The yacht headed out of Faegan inlet towards the first site and everyone spent the rest of the day checking all the camera and dive gear were set up and working properly. The aim of the surveys around Beaver, Weddell and New Island were to record the common species and the habitat type at each site, collect samples of the unusual marine creatures found, and to photograph the marine life in situ. On each dive the dive team would be equipped with cameras (either still or movie) and a sample bag for collecting. Two shore surveys were also carried out at Beaver and New Island, and with help from the local islanders stones were turned and rockpools sifted through and more samples collected. Sites varied from sandy bottoms (where we searched in vain for a second species of serolid isopod); rocky bottoms with forests of kelp and bedrock bottoms with many overhangs - often home to the beautiful painted shrimp. A large variety of species were recorded and collected including many types of seaslugs, limpets, top shells, brittle stars, sea squirts (both solitary and colonial), sea urchins, spider crabs, and many more. Most species were identified straight after the dive using descriptive keys and scientific literature but a few specimens will be packed up and sent to specialists for further identification.Steve Cartwright working beneath a kelp canopy.
The weather left a little to be desired for this trip with windy and snowy days. But even with water of six degrees everyone still came back onboard smiling with tales of colourful anenomes, overfriendly sea lions and of fish they almost caught. And then there was the snorkelling with both Commersons and Peales dolphins, the squeals of excitement could be heard through the snorkel as the dolphins circled closer and closer. The photos, I hope, will give a taster of what we all saw and what magic lies below Falkland waters.