The day starts with an early morning road trip down to the North Devon harbour town of Ilfracombe. The sea comes into view and in the distance the beautiful island of Lundy can be seen. A sense of anticipation has been growing ever since we left home and arriving at the harbour we can see we are not the only ones excited about today’s trip to dive with the super friendly seals that inhabit the rich coastal waters surrounding Lundy Island.
The rest of the Group have already arrived and are setting up their dive kit, ready to load onto “Obsession 2” the high speed “Cat” that Scuba Blue have chartered for the day. The skipper and crew are always hugely welcoming and we particularly enjoy taking less experienced divers to Lundy as it is an ideal first sea dive for those still new to the sport !!
Then, we are on our way and in just over an hour we are pulling into the calm clear waters of “Gannets Bay”. As we find our mooring line, the “residents” are seen sliding from the rocks which they have been basking on, into the sea, ready to interact with the new group of playmates that have just arrived. Heads then bob up out of the water to see what is taking the new arrivals so long, whilst we all kit up as quickly as we can to drop in and experience one of the highlights of UK diving.
Finally, the skipper opens the gate at the back of the boat and announces that “The pool is open!” and in we all go. We descend to the kelp covered bottom in only 3 or 4 metres of water and settle in to wait. The trick with seals is to ignore them…they can’t bear it !!! If you see one and swim after it, the seal will disappear…but pretend you haven’t seen it, or even better, ignore it, and it will soon be chewing and tugging on your fin, begging you to interact !!
It really is an amazing experience to have a wild animal, that is possibly 2 metres long with huge puppy eyes, begging you to scratch its tummy…..but you still ignore it…it may then “paw” your hood or gently chew your gloved fingers, in exactly the same way a friendly Labrador would, and in the end might even rub it’s tummy on your hand. We are briefed not to touch the seals but if they touch you, what choice do you have? Then you have them, their friends might also turn up and you have three, maybe four, of these very friendly, incredibly acrobatic marine mammals swooping around you and having the time of their lives!!!
All to soon, it is time to swim back to the boat…don’t be surprised if you feel some resistance on your fins…the seals don’t want you to get out, they want to keep playing and will grab your fins to try to persuade you to stay!!
The diver lift gets you effortlessly back onto the boat and the dive deck is alive with chat about the experiences we have all had. Coffees, teas, hot chocolates and biscuits are served up by the fantastic crew and we all relax for an hour or so before jumping back in the water to do it all again !!!
Then, it is full steam ahead back to Ilfracombe. Sadly, I am unable to describe much about that journey as you will usually find me snoozing, all the way back, somewhere in the wheelhouse. Before we know it, we are back in Ilfracombe, the boat is unloaded and we finish the day, in the only way you can when at the seaside…fish and chips on the harbour wall.