Marine Critter Encounters 2017

As divers we often have close up encounters with many varied and wonderful sea creatures. As it is “downtime” here at Oceanaddicts in the run up to Christmas, I find myself reflecting on my encounters over the past dive season. One of the most exciting things about diving in Ireland is that every season, and indeed every dive is different. Some years we see lots of a particular animal and other years we only get a few.

This year was a fantastic year for cetaceans. We had pods of Common Dolphins hanging around the entrance to Kinsale harbour, many having tiny babies little more that half a meter long. On returning from a dive one day in late July we were attracted by a lot of dolphins leaping out of the water.

When we got a little closer we discovered that they were attacking a harbour porpoise, jumping on top of it and not allowing it to surface for air. This behaviour has been seen before outside Cork Harbour and also in Cardigan Bay in Wales by Bottle Nose Dolphins. The reason is unclear, it may be over territory, food, or just for the fun of it. For whatever reason the porpoise usually comes off at the worst end and many are killed or die from internal injuries due to the “beatings” from their larger cousins. Nature can be cruel.

Common Dolphins

Common Dolphins

I had a much more gentle, if fleeting encounter, early in July while surfacing from a dive at Bream Rock. I had just deployed my SMB and notice a large shoal of sprat behaving strangely, they started to from into a loose bait ball. I then noticed the black shadow overhead. It was a Minke whale and it swam down right beside me, it’s large eye checking me out as it passed. I was not sure what type of whale it was but Graham confirmed it was a minke when we surfaced. My buddy on the day was equipped with a camera and set up for macro photography, Murphy is alive and well in Cork and his law ruled that day.


Sleeping Seal

Of course we also have many encounters with curious seals. The most notable one “tapped “me on the shoulder when I had just removed my mask while teaching an Open Water course. I turned my head to see, if a bit blurry, two big blue eyes looking at me. Then it was game time as the playful seal didn’t care that this was a training dive, but it’s playfulness was infectious, just as well we had been on the last skill for that dive.


Boarish – Noel Black

We saw many species of fish. One of the most unusual was a Boar Fish seen early in the season at Black Head.The Boar fish is generally found in waters 50 to 100meters deep and deeper so it was strange to find it at 14m. There were many sightings of different tpes of Blennys, Tompot, Red and Yarrell’s Blennys. While snorkeling it was not unusual to spot Shannys peeping from the crevices of rocks. Again at Black Head, our seasearch adopted site this year, we were intrigued by the presence of apparently sleeping cat sharks (dogfish), we saw them on every dive crammed into the same crack in the rock. We learned how a conger eel goes into it hole in the rock, as it was recorded by one of our guests

There were no shortage of invertebrates, with many species of crabs, shrimp spotted along with lobster and crayfish. Reefs carpeted with anemones and sponges were home to  little cuttle fish, octopus and many species of nudibranch and worms.

Catshark (Dogfish)


Tompot Blenny






With record numbers tuning into Blue Planet II which recently aired on BBC let us not forget that our little patch of Ocean is as diverse and interesting and full of life as any tropical reef. It’s there waiting to be explored and enjoyed. To keep it that way please remember to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle your plastic waste.

This is just a short snapshot of what our divers encountered while diving with us in 2017, I wonder what we’ll see in 2018…..I can’t wait

Experiences in Ireland

One of the nicest things about operating a dive business like Oceanaddicts is the many new people we meet. Recently we met Nico who is a very fine young person from Germany who was here in Ireland to improve his English and learn about the working environment in Ireland. Nico was with Oceanaddicts for six weeks where he made a great contribution, helping with the daily chores of running a dive center. He had a passion for fishing and an burning interest in the marine environment. We wish him well for his future, and hope that out paths will cross again in the future.

A report by Nico in German and English about his experience in Cork, Ireland


Bericht über meinen Aufenthalt in Irland

Hi Ich bin Nico und bin 19 Jahre alt, Da ich Zeit zu überbrücken hatte, entschloss ich mich nach Irland zu gehen und ein Praktikum zu machen um zu sehen wie es in der Arbeitswelt in Irland aussieht. In den ersten 3 Wochen meines Aufenthaltes besuchte ich die UCC in Cork. Dort machte ich einen Sprachkurs der mein Englisch um einiges aufgefrischt hat. Waerend Ich in der UCC war suchten meine Betreuer und ich einen Praktikumsplatz für mich. Ich stiess auf Ocean Addicts und war gleich begeistert. Da ich Hobbyangler und Aquarianer bin, fasziniert mich die Unterwasserwelt sehr. Ich stellte mich vor und man kam ins Gespräch. Den Praktikumsplatz hatte ich bekommen. Was mich sehr freute. Meine Tätigkeiten machen Spass, am meisten genoss ich aber die Arbeitsatmosphäre. Wir waren gemeinsam Schnorcheln und Tauchen was ich sehr genoss. Nun ist meine Zeit um und es bleibt nur der Abschied. Aber ganz sicher nicht für immer. Ich plane schon einen Urlaub nächstes Jahr.

Report about my Experience in Ireland

Hi, my name is Nico and I’m 19 years old, The reason I came to Ireland is simple. I had some free time and I wanted to know about the working environment in Ireland and to improve my English, a little. In the first 3 Weeks, I went to University College Cork, where I did an English course. While I went to UCC, I did search with my teacher for a Work Experience. I found OceanAddicts and was very excited, because I’m a hobby angler and Fish keeper. I’m fascinated by the Underwater world. I came to Graham and Anne and introduced myself. They told me I get the job. I looked forward to this. I had a big fun with my work. The best was the working atmosphere, I enjoyed it very much. We went snorkelling on the surface and diving. I enjoyed this experience. Also, in my spare time, I went fishing and caught some big fish. Now it’s time to say good bye, but no worries, I want to come back next year for a holiday, perhaps to do some more diving.

Jobbridge Internship With Oceanaddicts Ref: 917099

Oceanaddicts are looking for an enthusiastic and reliable person with an interest in Scuba Diving to work with them in the coming season. Previous experience of Scuba Diving or boat handling would be an advantage but is not essential. Full training will be given. The successful candidate will gain practical experience in: Scuba diving, marine tourism and dealing with customers on a daily basis. They will receive formal and informal training in the following: Scuba Diving  and related skills involved in the running of a dive tourism business. On completion the intern will have attained skills in customer service, scuba diving and marine tourism.

Skills Requirements

They will need to be punctual, reliable, flexible and honest. An interest in boats, scuba diving and the marine environment would be an advantage.

This is a Jobbridge Internship. An allowance of €50 per week will be paid in addition to your current Social Welfare payment. See eligibility criteria

How to Apply:

Please send a CV and cover to: or post to: Anne Ferguson Oceanaddicts, Ballynalougha, Nohoval, Co. Cork

Work Experience at Oceanaddicts

 by Rachel White

Having recently moved from the most inland County in Ireland – Laois to the beautiful coastal town of Kinsale, County Cork, I became a student of Kinsale Community School  in September 2014. To my delight I joined as a Transition Year Student, which has been brilliant so far. Not only am I getting to make new friends through the various projects we do but I also get to explore what it is like to work in certain areas that interest me as careers after school.

I have always loved the sea and I would like to study and work in the area of Marine Biology. So to my delight Anne and Graham responded positively to me when I requested to do some work experience, with their company Oceanaddicts. As I say coming from Landlocked Laois I actually have no sea faring experience as many of my friends down here would have simply by living beside it all their lives. Anne highlighted to me that their ship the Embarr would not be on the sea during February but if I truly wanted to experience the ‘off season’ and I suppose the real work that they do during that period, that I would be more than welcome.

In my head I thought ‘shur that’s fair enough and I suppose I expected to be helping out cleaning the boat or with some paperwork. I was happy to hear about the diving work they do during the Summer months and be shown the photos of the world under sea in this area through the photos. Listening to Anne speak of the tiny creatures under Irish waters that she has seen only added to my excitement.

Little did I know I would do all the above and be taken on an adventure over a few days! Failte Ireland’s conference on promoting The Wild Atlantic Way was my introduction. The rugged coastland from Kinsale to Donegal and all the areas of interest in between are being acknowledged for their outstanding natural beauty. Millions are being spent to nurture tourism through international marketing. Oceanaddicts offer diving experiences to see what’s under the waves around Kinsale allowing the divers to immerse in the wonderful reefs teeming with life and colour.

Diver, Reef,WAW, Wild Atlantic Way,

Diver on reef on the Wild Atlantic Way Kinsale

I actually came home in the car with Maps, brochures and a plan of even travelling across land to follow the Wild Atlantic Way this Summer – I’m sure I could convince my parents!!! It was then that Anne suggested if I was free that evening she would take me to Cork for a Test Dive!!!!

Wow, how could it get any better than this? The pool she told me would be 2.5 meters deep to 5 meters at its deepest. She suggested my landlocked parents might be slightly terrified to let their pride and joy take the plunge, so to seek permission before accepting the offer!

Luckily my mother’s mind doesn’t work in feet and meters so I grabbed my unchristen brand new 16th birthday present wetsuit and headed back towards Anne and Grahams house in Novohol to travel to the National Maritime College of Ireland.

Out of the van and that’s when I realised the weight of the dive tanks as I helped lug all the gear up stairs to the pool. This was no ordinary swimming pool. It has facilities to generate waves, rain, and imitate storms at sea. This is training ground for the Irish Navy.

I waited my turn as Anne was training her students for their PADI licences. Geared up with weight belt, flippers and dive tank the first task I had to complete was breathing through the mouth piece to ensure I could breathe correctly using the equipment. I couldn’t wait to get under! So, down the steps, onto the platform, breaths and under the water and I swam the 2.5 area and up to the massive drop into the 5 meter wall of water. Anne obviously controlled my buoyancy which dictated how far down underwater I could go. Wearing the flippers helped propel me through the water and the heavy air tanks had lost their weight. It was great. After a while, my left ear refused to release pressure so that was the indication to finish. I was thrilled with myself. I genuinely didn’t think I would get this chance to dive and am so grateful to Anne for the experience. I will definitely be signing up to do a PADI licence and am hatching a plan to do so this year. I’m working on getting a summer job as a Lifeguard.


The next day as I rinsed all the diving equipment to stop the chlorine crystallising the respiratory equipment, I kept thinking about what it would be like to actually dive out at the Old head of Kinsale or down to the shipwrecks that Graham talks of. I would love to see for myself the colours that Anne told me are under the Irish Sea not just in the barrier reef in Australia!. Then armed with brushes and hose and soap solution I cleaned their other boat a rib named Up to Something. I gladly scrubbed as I dreamed of being out rounding Mizen Head enjoying the Wild Atlantic in all its ruggedness! Anne allowed me to help with computer work. Happily I typed in data of the air tanks and I imagined how I will go deeper the next time I’m in the pool! Aim for the bottom I thought and you’ll hit the sea I suppose!

I have left Oceanaddicts with my fascination turning to an addiction! I will definitely take Anne up on her kind offer to go out on the Embarr during the summer when the season starts. I am very grateful to Anne and Graham who gave me great encouragement and insight to how they work their company. I hope to be diving off the Embarr someday in the future and no doubt will blog about that too!

RHIZOSTOMA OCTOPUS – The Barrel Jellyfish

This year we have been seeing an amazing number of Barrel jellyfish on our dives and snorkels here in the Kinsale area. Rhizostoma octopus is a surprisingly solid jellyfish, which can grow up to one meter in diameter. Its Bell is dome shaped and is a very pale dirty yellow colour with purple lobes around the edge. This jellyfish has eight oral arms that look a bit like a cauliflower but has no tentacles. The Ecojel project have measured a barrel jellyfish that was 80cm in diameter and weighed 35kg.

Barrels are sometimes referred to as the “basking sharks” of the jellyfish worlds, because although they are quite large they feed only on plankton. Beneath it’s bell the barrel have hundreds of tiny mouths (the Pores) which lead to a highly branched digestive system. Each mouth is surrounded by tiny stinging tentacles. Their sting is not powerful enough to harm humans, but only the plankton small enough to enter their tiny mouths. The Barrels are constantly swimming up and down in the water column feeding on the plankton. They have sensory cells that enable them to orientate and tell up from down

A lot of small juvenile fish seek protection between the eight arms of the barrel jellyfish. however the Barrel itself is one of the favourite foods of the critically endangered leatherback turtle and these fantastic reptiles are seasonal visitors to our waters. So Keep your eyes peeled there is the potential to spot a leatherback turtle, fingers crossed!

Stab jackets, blowing bubbles and neon green crocs.

By Finbarr O’Mahony

“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” – Dave Berry.

So due to the first really inclement weather conditions since I’ve started working at Oceanaddicts I’ve been tasked by Graham to write a blog. Anyone who knows me would believe me when I say I would much prefer to be out on deck with an angle grinder, scrubbing the decks or pulling my fingernails out with a pliers right now, but sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team. As I could never hope to follow on the previous incumbents informative blogs I will just write about my early experiences here as a dive centre assistant/DM.

Its been roughly six weeks since I came on board Embarr for the first time, nervous and feeling unsure if I was making the right decision. Would I settle in? Would my lack of experience of boats and cold water diving make me look like a rank amateur?  Should I be continuing my early mid-life crisis? Is there even anything to see underwater in Ireland?

Seal, diving, ireland cork marine life,

Playful Seal at the Old Head of Kinsale

Well its for others to say if I look like a rank amateur or not (all replies will be filed in the appropriate rubbish bin) but as to the other questions I can answer with a empathic YES.  Having taken up diving in my early thirties and doing most of my diving in warm tropical waters I had virtually no experience of Irish diving but I was amazed at what is to be found under the surface, from the numerous crustaceans, brightly coloured sponges and anemones, to the cheeky blennies and playful seals. Even a type of hard coral, which was a relief to this self confessed coral geek. As for snorkeling with 6m Basking Sharks for half an hour, well I haven’t processed that one just yet. There are just so many canyons, swim throughs and caves to explore not to mention the amazing wrecks – with the variety of diving and dive sites, life will never be boring while blowing bubbles. (And thanks to Annes amazing baking the extra buoyancy around my waist may even help me develop a tolerance to the cold!)

BCD stab Jackets, scuba diving, Cork, Kinsale, Ireland

Stab Jackets, Finns and Bright Green Crocks

Life on board has been great (even if I had to get used to new terminology from Captain Ahab). And there is so much diving knowledge and enthusiasm walking around deck (some in neon green crocs) each day, from both the owners and clients, that it is hard not absorb some of it. Everyone has been really helpful in sharing their experience, and passing on what they know. I’ve got to assist some excellent Instructors on the Open Water courses and have enjoyed showing our multi-national clients how eye opening the diving is here. I’m resisting the urge to get involved in the incredible underwater photography sessions, but my resolve is weakening daily! They say variety is the spice of life and definitely no two days are the same down here. Its not a bad place to spend your mid-life crisis.

So if any of you are still awake at this point I just have to say, come and join us for a splash, the pool is open but don’t forget your stab jackets (whatever that means).

Six Degrees of Separation

By Johnny Hamilton


Sunlight through the Kelp Oysterhaven

Sunlight filters through the Kelp on an Oceanaddicts day out South Cork Coast


In general sea water temperatures take longer to rise and fall than temperatures over land masses. Irelands relatively warm temperate climate is primarily influenced by our surrounding seas. The Gulf Stream, evolving into the North Atlantic Drift, keeps the waters around our coasts on average 7°C to  8°C warmer than global seas at similar latitudes. Our prevailing southwesterly winds then transfer the heat from the sea to the land. As a general rule sea temperatures are higher than those of the air during the winter months with the reverse being true during the summer months.

Overall, this summer we have had glorious diving conditions with visibility averaging 8m to 10m. The sea temperatures off Kinsale have ranged from a low of 12°C to a high of 18°C. This six degrees of separation mirrors the average Irish sea temperature range of 10°C to 16°C for the months of February and August respectively. The range of temperature in the oceans as a whole is from the freezing point, which is around -1.7°C (depending on salinity) to a maximum of around 30°C in the tropical oceans with the exception being hydrothermal vents where temperatures can reach a whopping 460°C.

Thermoclines , areas of rapid change in temperature, would be familiar to most divers with the thermocline remaining fairly constant in the relatively calm summer months whereas thermoclines virtually disappear with the onset of winter due to an increase in vertical mixing processes. Around springtime, stratification becomes more apparent with a calmer sea state. Thus, thermoclines generally occur in shallower seas close to the shore when the sun heats the upper layer causing the resultant warmer less dense water to sit on top of the colder denser lower layer. As the weather cools so too does the upper layer and mixing takes place. The cycle is repeated as spring approaches with the formation of the thermocline again. This process is referred to as a physical process of the ocean, with the formation of the thermocline stimulating the biological process of primary production which in turn allows for the chemical process of inorganic nutrient regulation. The physical, biological and chemical processes of the ocean are interwoven and dependant on eachother proving to be one of natures most fascinating characteristics , for example, the silicon weathered from rocks on land forming the cell wall of microscopic phytoplankton (diatoms) in the ocean which in turn dissolve and influence the silicate content of the seawater. Such processes and cycles have formed and shaped  the oceans over millions of years and will continue to do so for many millions more.


Mackerel Heaven

by Johnny Hamilton

As of late there has been no need to set the alarm clocks on board Embarr as we have consistently been awoken by the sounds of a soft pitter-patter knocking on her sturdy steel keel. Dreamy thoughts of mermaids soon give way to the delicous reality of shoals of mackerel  hopping off Embarrs sides. Racing to the deck I find Graham wide awake and literally filling buckets with the flopping and flapping mackerel. Its a time of mackerel overdose.

The Atlantic is yielding up a truely sumptuous harvest at the moment. Mackerel with
salad, mackerel with new potatoes, mackerel with freshly baked soda bread, mackerel with Murphys, mackerel with mackerel. Kinsale harbour is boiling with the fishes and seemingly at all times of the day. With a few meters of visibility in the water its a sight to behold to sse them chasing sprat and then unluckily for them chasing our hooks.
There are over 30 different species of mackerel worldwide, found in waters from Chile to Cape Cod to Cork. Belonging to the family Scombridae the term mackerel means ‘marked’ or ‘spotted’ and is thought to come from the old french word, macquerel,  meaning a pimp or procurer. The Atlantic mackerel gracing our plates can grow to lengths of 70cm reaching a maximum age of 18 years. They spawn in large schools in shallow coastal waters, typically in areas of upwelling where nourishment is high.

Like their close cousin the Tuna, mackerel are strong swimmers and are built for speed having been recorded reaching burst speeds of up to 5.5 m/s. It is still not fast enough to evade our catch as they fall prey to our white/silver hooks mistaking them for the shoals of sprat. Such high consistent numbers of mackerel along our shores at the moment are surely testiment to the overall healthiness of the waters of the Southern Irish coastline. Long may it continue. All we need now are more creative ideas for our dinner table,  all suggestions are gladly received.

Follow the link to mackerel heaven,  filmed off Embarr in Kinsale harbour.

A Tall Ship Driven Ashore

By Johnny Hamilton

On Wednesday, 24th July, 2013, we bore witness to the sad and tragic sinking of the Tall Ship Astrid. At approximately 12.30pm the Astrid struck Quay Rock just north west of the Great Soverign. Having spent the night in the shelter of Oysterhaven Bay, she was making her way to Kinsale Harbour but encountering engine failure she sent out her distress call. On board were 30 people comprising 23 sailing trainees and 7 crew.

The response was immediate  with all boats in the area coming to their rescue. The Courtmacsherry and Kinsale lifeboats were quickly on the scene and did what they do best, saving lives. The Irish Coastguard were also on hand with their search and rescue helicopter. Oceanaddicts Dive Liveaboards two ribs , Oisre and Up to Something, responded to the mayday call with Up to Something  playing a pivotal role in assisting the transfer of pasengers from the Astrid to safety, as did the Spirit of Oysterhaven yacht.  Within an hour of striking the rocks all 30 of the Astrids crew were back on dry land safe and sound, no doubt with a stirring tale to tell their famililies and friends.

Wednesdays weather was nothing like what we have been having over the past month. With a swell of up to 3m and Southerly

Tall Ship driven ashore

Tall Ship driven ashore

winds of force 5 to 6 the Astrid didnt stand a chance once its engine failed. What a pity it is to see such a beautiful Tall Ship  stranded on the rocks. As with many such sinkings there are echoes from the past. On the 24th October,1911, The Falls of Garry ran aground nearby at Ballymacus. She was a four masted sailing vessel en route to Falmouth and thankfully like the Astrid all were saved.

Built in 1918 as a lugger, the Astrid was used as a cargo ship until the mid 1970s. She sailed under the Lebanese flag before succumming to fire in the mid 80s. She was completely overhauled and has since served her time as a sail training vessel. With a potential salvage operation underway we will have to wait and see what the future holds for her.


Embarr Ahoy!

Embarr in Kinsale

Embarr in Kinsale.

By Johnny Hamilton

It’s the eve of Embarr’s maiden expedition of summer 2013 and on board we have divers from the Bermondsey and Windsor Dive clubs, UK. The group has enjoyed some quality local dives with the UC-42 site being a favourite thus far.

Tomorrow we will bid farewell to Kinsale as our adventure takes us west along for a few days of diving and exploring on the South Coast of Ireland. Embarr is looking great with her fresh coat of paint and is enjoying her reincarnation as a Dive liveaboard vessel. Prior to this, Embarr served as a family home on the River Thames and prior to that she served her duty as she was originally designed for. Embarr is one of 65 Fleet Tenders built for the British Royal Navy from 1963 through 1982 on the same 79’ hull.

Constructed in 1972 by the famous Cooks yard of Wyvenhoe she served in operations from the Elbe to Brest including the North Sea and the English Channel carrying crew and cargo to larger navy vessels such as aircraft carriers. Embarr’s single main engine is a four cylinder Blackstone running through a 2:1 reduction gear box to a single bronze propeller with a comfortable top cruising speed of 10.5 knots. On a full tank of fuel Embarr has an operating range of 1200 miles. Of the 65 fleet tenders constructed we know of three that are now serving their time as floating hospitals on the Amazon with others having been adapted as dive liveaboards and family homes throughout the world.

And so it goes, at first light we shall set a course West, with our fridges stocked, the cupboards bursting and Annes infamous scones and cookies neverending, Embarr is ready and so are we.