One of the great pleasures for many sea swimmers is the wildlife that can display itself. For others it can be terrifying. I don’t know how to convince you of the former if you are of the latter persuasion. Except maybe the old saw, they are more afraid of you.
Today was yet another 4 hour swim. For the first hour and fifteen minutes, since the conditions were right, I had my first swim of the year out to Carricknamoan Rock in Dungarvan Bay, joined by my friend Grainne, who is swimming this year on the Waterford Ladies English Channel Relay team. Grainne is the first swimmer to ever swim out there with me. I took the long way, up the shore and across, rather than my usual direct route, and didn’t realise it but Grainne hit directly across and got there just behind me.
Out at the rock two or three seals popped up right beside us (often hard to tell how many seals are around) as they haul out on Carricknamoan. The rock itself was, as usual, covered in Shags and Cormorants and gulls, with gulls taking to the air over me as I got closer. I regularly get a gull escort in various places. Grainne is completly at home in the sea. A future Solo-er, I believe.
Clonea is also great for crabs of all sizes which are more visible at high tide, when the small Brown ones climb up on the covered rocks in large numbers, or individual ones scuttle across the sand. Solitary large Spider crabs seem to inhabit areas between the kelp beds and the sand or rocks.
I’ve seen what I think was solitary Sea Bass twice in the last few weeks. And today I saw a most unusual sight, a two foot shark, cruising into the rocks after high tide. I guess it had to be a large dog-fish, but it shot off quickly, making me envious of it’s movement.
And finally, the shoals of tiny fish, with the sun shining on their greenish scales and catching their white underbellies as they dart about, changing direction, trapping and reflecting the snot-green light.
And finally, on top of it all, the warmest water this year, warmer than anything I experienced on the South Coast while training for the double relay two years ago.