Lakeland lost-property freediver Angus Hoskin is back in the limelight after recovering a newly-wed groom’s platinum ring from the “green sludge” of Lake Windermere.
The ring-rescue has underlined problems being posed for freshwater divers and others as water utilities continue to pump raw sewage into the UK's inland waters.
Hoskin’s exploits were reflected on Divernet a year ago when he recovered a woman’s prosthetic leg from Miller Ground in Windermere – although, in clearer waters, that had been a relatively easy task for the freediver.
The 23-year-old from Coniston runs Lake District Diving, a free service he conceived with diving partner Declan Turner to carry out underwater rubbish clearances alongside recovery of lost personal items such as phones, cameras, keys and watches. They operate at depths down to 12m.
On 13 August the unnamed groom left the Low Wood Bay hotel on his wedding day to cool off with others from the party in shallow water near a jetty.
Back at the hotel he noticed that his ring, platinum with three diamonds and yet to be size-adjusted, was missing. He guessed that he must have lost it when he had tripped over a large submerged rock.
Staff advised him to call in Lake District Diving, but on arrival Hoskin was faced with visibility problems because of the severe blue-green algal bloom. This had resulted from excess nutrients caused by the amount of raw sewage entering Windermere, combined with high water temperatures.
The task took Hoskin about 15 minutes. “Finding this ring in the green sludge was extremely difficult,” he said. “With it only being waist-deep, and being able to see absolutely nothing, I just had to metal-detect completely blind. Even when having a signal, it was hard to find what it picked up!”
According to local conservationist Matt Staniek, more than 5,000 hours’ worth of sewage from wastewater treatment plants was pumped into Windermere last year, exposing swimmers to the potentially toxic algal blooms that he says also reduce oxygen levels and kill fish and other lake wildlife. His petition for the government to act on banning the discharges has gathered more than 136,000 signatures.
Divers in Guernsey have also been making themselves useful, by investigating what kept snagging lobster fishers’ pots to the north of Lihou island.
On visiting the site a group of recreational scuba divers discovered a cryptic heap of more than 60 abandoned anchors thought to date back as far as the early 19th century, with some described as exceptionally large.
The dive was prompted by a fisher who had experienced snagging problems at the site over the space of more than 30 years. He had always assumed that the culprit was a shipwreck until a friend had dived recently and reported finding a handful of anchors. The group discovered that these had simply been outliers to the main pile.
No shipwrecks have been reported in the area, but local historian Jean-Paul Fallaize identified a pottery fragment found nearby as possibly originating from mid-19th-century Glasgow, and told ITV that the anchors could have been part of a consignment being carried to the continent.