The weeks leading up to the Bray Fish Festival had been incredibly windy with very changeable weather. So with the date set and invites sent the chances of decent weather were slim. As ever Irish luck was on our side and the wind disappeared and the sun shone properly for what felt like the first time this year.
The Fish Festival was organised as part of the Oceans 2012 campaign to transform the European Fisheries policy and try and put an end to over fishing. The main organisers were Bray Sea Life, Irish Wildlife Trust and Bird Watch Ireland.
With plenty of room in the car I started to get a bit carried away with packing spare bits and pieces. There was enough spare gear to dress half the Bray beach strollers in snorkelling outfits! Luckily I had the mannequins to dress up as snorkellers and a small display of rubbish put together so the strollers were safe.As we set up of our display of dive gear and marine litter it looked more like a garage sale hastily setup by kids to earn a few quid off unwanted attic heirlooms. Thankfully with a table provided by Sea Life we were able to sort the mess into something resembling a display.
It was nice to take a stroll around the displays put on by the other groups. One of the highlight of course would have to be the touch pool Sea Life put out, which let the kids get up close and personal with our fishy friends.
The original plan was for Green Divers to have a display of dive gear and typical types of marine litter. On the morning we were told we would have to give a talk to the kids about it. It is easy enough to chat to students about scuba gear and ask them to remove some marine litter while diving but its another thing to be faced with 20 enthusiastic sea scouts and try keep them interested!
This part turned out to be easy enough as I sometimes forget how interesting even the most basic things in diving are, like the regulator or dive tank. If I had the energy I think the kids (and some adults) would have kept us there all day asking about what its like to go scuba diving.
When the talk was finished we had to get into our gear and head off for a cleanup dive. With the nature of the event and timing we didn’t really have much option for leeway so it was a pretty low tide that we had for us! After a pre-dive safety check and many questions from the curious kids we hit the water and walked and walked til the water was at our knees. Then walked a while longer until it was eventually at our trim wastes. So we bit the bullet and started one of the shallowest dives in a long time.
Growing up in Bray I was pretty used to going to the beach all the time but it was my first dive from the beach. I was pleasantly
surprised at the amount of marine life spotting dozens of shrimp, shore crabs and plenty of juvenile fish.
Meanwhile the kids had been scouring the shoreline for rubbish and treasure. The treasure remains lost but they found a fair bit of rubbish and some interesting bits and pieces all of which we were expected to identify.
We did our best to keep it interesting but its hard to dent a kinds excitement and tell them that they found a rusty coke can when they thought it might be part of a shipwreck.
Next up was the Fish Parade along the promenade. All day the sea scouts and general public had been asked to colour in and cut out placards of fish for the parade. Some of the art work carried was provided by the Kerry artist Vincent Hyland. It was one of the funniest walks along the promenade especially bumping into people I knew as I was still dressed in my diving drysuit.