From wrecks to wildlife - the world below the waves

Reporter Ellie Pilmoor with Jim Fuller, open water instructor from Cosham
Reporter Ellie Pilmoor with Jim Fuller, open water instructor from Cosham
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They give us the chance to see what lies beneath the waters of the Solent.

Armed with underwater cameras and equipment, the Southsea Sub Aqua Club explore the depths of the sea surrounding Portsmouth.

There is so much marine life in the Solent, so there are a lot of different aspects to diving.

With hundreds of shipwrecks from the First and Second World Wars, the harbour is full of history.

And thanks to the dives from the club, we can discover the secrets of the Solent.

With just over 100 members, the club, based at Fort Widley on Portsdown Hill, completes a number of dives throughout the year.

It has won awards on several occasions for its discoveries and the way members have presented their findings.

Most recently they were honoured at the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) Wreck Awards.

They came runners-up following a series of dives they completed last year to photograph the construction site where the Mulberry Harbours were built off the south coast of England.

The portable harbours were used during the Second World War to provide port facilities to offload cargo.

The club had been running the project to investigate and record underwater obstructions and anomalies that may be associated with Mulberry Harbours.

The club’s findings are being shared with the D-Day Museum.

Southsea Sub Aqua Club complete dives throughout the Solent, from where the River Hamble joins the sea along to Chichester Harbour.

For many of the members it is a hobby they love and for Alison Mayor, it was something she discovered she enjoyed on her 40th birthday.

She completed a try-dive where potential members learn the basics of diving.

Now, years later, she is membership secretary for the club and projects advisor for the southern region for the BSAC.

Alison says: ‘I was always into snorkelling but I didn’t think a 40-year-old could just start diving.

‘It was something I always wanted to try, but I never really thought about actually doing it.

‘It never crossed my mind to give it a go.’

But when she turned 40, Alison decided it was time to try diving.

She completed the try-dive and joined the club.

Now she enjoys diving on wrecks and discovering the history of the Portsmouth area.

‘As well as the wrecks, it is great to see the wildlife too,’ she adds.

‘There is so much marine life in the Solent, so there are a lot of different aspects to diving.

‘For me, I really enjoy both the marine life side of it and the wrecks.’

The club welcomes anyone to become a member, from experienced divers to beginners.

Their youngest member is aged 12 and the rest of the membership varies in age.

They use the pool at St Edmund’s School, in Portsmouth, once a week for training as well as giving people the chance to do try-dives. The club practise first aid, emergency situations like a diver who is not breathing, equipment that stops working and other issues they may face while diving in the Solent.

They also use the time to gain more experience practise general diving techniques.

Club meeting times

As well as diving, the Southsea Sub Aqua Club is also a great place to meet new friends.

Every Thursday members go to their base at Fort Widley, on Portsdown Hill Road, to have a drink and catch up. They meet from 8pm.

They also meet every Monday where training sessions take place.

Members take part in the sessions at St Edmund’s Catholic School, off Upper Arundel Street. Training, including try-dives, starts at 7.30pm.

For more information on the group visit their Facebook page by searching for Southsea Sub Aqua Club.