This section offers a different range of characters such as plaice, red mullet and cuttlefish, but it can be silty, so you need to avoid hitting the bottom too much.
For the first half-hour or so Steve was finding plenty of bits and pieces, gleefully pointing out little things to me as I nodded back, though often not having a clue what he was showing me.
At last – the exotic-looking snakelocks anemone shrimp.
I was starting to lose hope of finding anything worthy of a shot with my set-up but then, along a large girder, I saw a greater pipefish. It was finally my turn to point something out to Steve.
The swell was up a bit but it was workable, and the pipefish happily posed for a few shots.
Looking around the snakelocks again for signs of the funky shrimp, I found something I could actually see, a scorpionfish.
Steve mentioned later that it was unusual to see fish so close to anemones because they would happily make a meal of a sculpin, but it was sitting there apparently quite happily.
We had been down for more than an hour at this point and Steve started searching a bit more frantically among the anemones. He clearly knew something that I didn’t.
I left him to it as I searched around the pillars for the many corkwing and ballan wrasse. Shining my torch on the rubble, I could see shoals of pouting bunched together.
Then, out the corner of my eye, I saw a flash. Steve was beckoning me over with his torch and pointing at an anemone, and at last I could see the shrimp.
It was only a couple of inches long but its body was marked with remarkably beautiful patterns and colours of iridescent blues and reds.
Top: Gilthead bream. Above: European bass.
The swell had picked up a little, so it was a case of waiting for the shrimp to become fully visible. I managed a few snaps, though of course a macro lens would have shown it to far better effect.
We were coming up to two hours under the water, which is one of the advantages of a shallow dive, and with it being September the 17°C water was pretty comfortable, even in a wetsuit.
As we headed back, a huge shoal of bass and the odd gilthead bream passed by.
I had never seen these fish so close up, but assume they’re used to the many divers who visit Swanage.
The tide had dropped quite a bit, so it was a case of crawling out by the end, but what a fantastic introduction to Swanage! It won’t be my last dive there!