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Diver fishing for 'pearls' in Scotland

More and more divers are taking the professional route by training to become Instructors, DM… competition is increasing and jobs are becoming harder to find in the diving market. The tense situation in the Arab countries is not conducive to taking a job in the once besieged resorts. Doing a course of Professional Diver is
Published: November 23, 2017 - 11:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 15:57
Diver fishing for ‘pearls’ in Scotland

More and more divers are taking the professional route by training to become Instructors, DM… competition is increasing and jobs are becoming harder to find in the diving market. The tense situation in the Arab countries is not conducive to taking a job in the once besieged resorts. Doing a course of Professional Diver is associated with enormous costs, and unfortunately it must be said that the Polish papers outside our country mean practically nothing. Of course we can do a course in a world famous school such as Fort William in Scotland, but the cost reaches several thousand pounds.

Therefore, a great option may be a seafood catcher. Great Britain or the Scandinavian countries catch all kinds of crustaceans on a high scale, and the most prized seafood is harvested by hand precisely by divers. To start this job we need:

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1 Diving certificate at least DM or equivalent from other organisations

2 STCW course

3 Specialised medical examinations.

Pearl Catcher 19

The requirements are not high, so we start with a dream job. Places close to big port cities are more and more overfished, so you have to go further and further to fish. Sometimes you have to take a ferry or fly a plane that lands on the beach of one of the tiny islands, where it seems as if time has stopped there. Beautiful islets, picturesque beaches, cliffs, sunrises and sunsets… Everything, just like on the covers of travel agencies. Once you arrive at your destination, you are quickly accommodated, and depending on the length of your stay on the island, it is either a house rental, a caravan or a hotel.

Scallop. It is a mussel that everyone knows, if only from the Shell oil company logo. There are 2-3 dives a day, depths 20-40 meters, 15 l bottles with nitrox. There are many interesting sights underwater, rock shelves, lots of crabs, crawfish, starfish and fish. You can often meet sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and even orcas.

Catching scallops can be compared to picking mushrooms, it takes a keen eye to spot them. The scallop buries itself halfway into the bottom, the top sometimes covered with algae. An experienced diver can collect up to 150 kilograms a day in a good spot. Translating this into zlotys, it will give us a day’s wages of about 1600 zlotys. Deciding to do such a job, you have to accept quite a high risk. Underwater we are alone, a few meters high tides cause very strong currents, which can carry a diver very far. The last case, from May this year: a diver did not return after a dive. Three lifeboats and two helicopters took part in the search for the missing man. Early this morning, after 11 hours 33 minutes in the water, he was luckily found by a Russian ship. He was frostbitten but whole.

Pearl Catcher 1

I myself had such an adventure at the beginning of my work. Strong current carried me far away, high wave made it impossible to get back to the boat. My colleague Piotrek from Warsaw jumped in to help. The atmospheric conditions don’t hinder the work at these depths too much, it’s just more difficult to get there. You also have to remember that rough seas, high waves and strong currents can sink a boat, taking it to the rocks.

Razor clam, called “a pearl” among seafood. A mussel very little known in Poland, shaped like a razor clam. Fishing for this clam is very different from Scallops because the depths at which they are found range from 1 to 20 metres. The boat, a crew of four: helmsman, assistant, two divers. The sea conditions must be very good. If there is good weather at night, we work at night.

The average depth we dive is about 7m, the big wave makes it impossible to work at these depths. As for the conditions, they are much worse, visibility is often less than 1 metre, and diving at night, with a tiny torch, is psychologically uncomfortable, especially when we feel that something big is swimming near us. Sometimes it’s a seal, and sometimes it’s a shark or a herd of dolphins, which Razors love. Although the depths are not great, there are fatal accidents here too.

Pearl Catcher 5

Daily 2 – 3 dives, 15 l cylinder, or air delivered with a hose from the compressor on the boat. As there are not many working days, especially in autumn and winter, the earnings are incomparably higher. After deducting all costs there is a sum to share. A diver usually earns 20 – 25% of the income, and a day’s pay of about 5000 PLN is nothing exorbitant, although there are days when you come back with nothing.

Despite the fact that the diver only works for about 4 hours, during this time, you have to swim several kilometres underwater, sometimes in a very strong current. From departure to return you spend several hours at sea. The sight of a diver breathing oxygen in the harbour after work is not unusual.

The great advantage is the deep penetration of the bottom, of little interest to the typical recreational diver. By the way, you can find interesting artefacts under water, old bottles, parts of tableware… There are also unmarked wrecks of smaller or larger boats. Personally, I had a chance to come across the wreck of an aeroplane, or rather its wing with a 2-meter long propeller blade sticking out of the sand, or aeroplane bombs, under which crabs make their lairs.

If you think this is the job for you, try your hand!

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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