For many people living on an island, hunting and catching your food is part of life, often passed down through generations. This can be by Shooting, Fishing, Shore-gathering, Ormering, Spear-fishing or SCUBA. There is no better way to understand the natural environment and gain a different perspective into where our food comes from. It will be guaranteed fresh when you catch it yourself. With most of our food being imported, it’s often a week old when it reaches the supermarket. Especially for fish, this is a big deal!
Collecting scallops and hunting flatfish is the most sustainable way to catch any seafood. The diver is limited by their own physical endurance and pits their skill and knowledge against the wild animal, be it from camouflage, speed of self defense. It is also minimal impact, with the diver being able to see the catch and leave the small ones alone. There is also little collateral damage as there is no heavy equipment being dropped or dragged on the seabed. Though we don’t generally target them specifically, we often catch Lobsters, Chancre and Spider crab on many of our dives.
As our boat is a licensed fishing vessel, we are able to sell our catches if desired, this helps to cover costs of the dives. A great side effect of hunting via SCUBA is that it encourages healthy competition, which focuses the diver on improving dive-skills on a daily basis. Of course, there can also be un-healthy competition where the diver tries to push the limits, we work hard to ensure that this doesn’t happen by being clear that safety comes first.
“We believe that experience can only be earned”
For scalloping, we have 2 main areas. All year round, we dive the east coast from St Sampsons down to St Martins Point. In the Summer, we also dive an area on the North of the island we call the “Platte”
Scallop dives are mostly done with a fixed line, with a buoy at the top to mark the diver and a collection sack on the bottom. At the end of the dive, the diver ties the sack closed and ascends up the line, which is then retrieved by winch. We also carry delayed SMB’s in case of line separation. Though most scallop divers dive solo, we do also use a “twin rig” line which allows 2 divers to work together. This allows them a certain freedom while maintaining contact at all times.
For those that are just picking up a few or by preference, scalloping can be completed without a fixed line and with an Delayed-SMB. This requires a lift bag if more than a few scallops are to be collected. This method also allows more flexibility to work around the reef, where a fixed line would snag.
Generally scalloping takes place in all dive conditions, if the current is running, the site will likely be a clear “run”, which is an area with minimal obstruction allowing the diver to go with the current. We’ll also dive in slack conditions, this will mostly be in gullies not accessible when current is running.
A slack dive, in 25m
A very tidal dive, half way between Guernsey and Herm – this is much faster than typical and is a special dive.
A deep scallop dive – 53m
This is a video of how to shuck the scallop ready for cooking
When hunting for flatfish, we have spots on every coast of the island. Apart from a few well known spots, most are kept secret being hard found with many wasted dives exploring. This is the same for all divers, it’s very rare that information is passed down, except in families. Flatfish typically live on gravel areas called banks. The bigger ones are regularly trawled, so the best spots for a diver are small areas next to reef.