November Habitat Highlight

The Scapa Flow

The Scapa Flow is a sheltered region of water contained within a series of islands on the West coast of Scotland. Throughout the first and second world war, it was used as the United Kingdom’s primary naval base with waters providing ideal conditions for storing naval vessels. Although decommissioned as a naval base nowadays, the waters remain scarred from the past due to the sunken vessels found at the depths within the Scapa Flow. A vast variety of vessel types from battleships to blockships from different eras are found scattered across the Scapa Flow seabed. The once silt and sand seabed’s have become diversified with new growth brought on by the increased availability of hard surfaces and attachment points as provided by the sunken ships.

Found year round are the starfish and urchins that move upon the hardscape with shoals of fish that use the wrecks as hiding holes. Uniquely, seasonal changes drive phytoplankton blooms which cause a population explosion of comb and moon jellies. Larger organisms found here also include Grey Seals and even Basking Sharks who come to feed over the summer months.

The Scapa Flow remains one of the unsung gems of the underwater habitats found in Scottish waters, with an enchanting myriad of history and wildlife, it provides a spectacular sight for divers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

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[Written by Conlan Gallacher]