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Ruecallan Archway

Rathlin Island

Average score: 0

Site name: Ruecallan Archway
Location: Descriptive location referring to nearest landfall i.e. town, village, harbour or island
Rathlin Island
Type: Describes whether this dive site can be dived from the shore, from a boat, or both
Wreck: Dive sites which include a shipwreck (or part of a shipwreck) are labelled with a ‘Yes’
Min. dive depth (m): The approximate minimum depth of the dive given in metres
Max. dive depth (m): The approximate maximum depth of the dive given in metres

Max. seabed depth (m): The maximum depth of the seabed at the site taken from the intersect between the dive site point and the depth contour on an Admiralty Standard Nautical Chart

Diving experience (min level): The recommended minimum level of diving experience for a specific site, described as Novice (<50 dives in temperate/cold waters and minimum certification of PADI Open/Advanced Open Water, BSAC Ocean Diver or CMAS 1 star), Intermediate (50-100 dives in temperate/cold waters and minimum certification of PADI Rescue Dive, BSAC Sports Dive or CMAS 2 star) or Advanced (>250 dives in temperate/cold waters and minimum certification of PADI Divemaster, BSAC Dive Leader or CMAS 3 star

Optimal wind direction: The general wind direction which causes minimal exposure at the site, corresponding to 8 points of the compass: North (N), North East (NE), East (E, South East (SE), South (S), South West (SW), West, North West (NW)

Exposure: The approximate level of exposure to wind and wave action at the site on any given day, described as Sheltered (inshore sites surrounded by a form of shelter on all sides), Moderate (sites which are partially sheltered) or Exposed (sites with little to no shelter)

Tidal strength: Anecdotal description of tidal strength at the site

Marine Protected Area: A Yes or No highlighting whether or not the site occurs within a Marine Protected Area

Visibility: Anecdotal description of the typical underwater visibility at the site
Visibility known to be good here, ranging from 10-20 metres.
Best time to dive: Anecdotal recommendation for the best time to dive the site for optimal underwater conditions. This typically relates to the stage of the tide
Slack water. Belfast +2hours - Belfast +5hours
Getting There: Directions for getting to the site

By boat from Rathlin or Ballycastle Harbour. From West Lighthouse, head east, hugging the coast for approx. 1km. From the entry point follow the contour east, staying close to the ridge which leads to a rocky slope. Turn north where the slope meets boulders and follow the steep rock round to the west, keeping the steep rock to your left. Find a series of small caves within the rocky wall and the Archway is found perpendicular to the cliff edge at around 28 metres.

Facilities: Details of nearest facilities to dive site i.e. public car parking and toilets, slipways etc

Rathlin Harbour has pontoons for around 40 boats. Water and electricity are available on the pontoon but there is no reliable source of fuel. Public toilets are available in Church Bay between the harbour and the pub, near the playground.

Ballycastle Harbour has a gated slipway (open during office hours) and pontoon berthing. Free car parking is available above the harbour and marina. Free public toilets are available in the visitor information office above the harbour.

Berthing fees apply for both Rathlin and Ballycastle Harbour Office; for use of either, contact the Ballycastle Harbour Office: 02820768525 / 07803505984.

Nearest tank filling is Aquaholics in Ballycastle or Portstewart (ring ahead: 028 7083 2584)

Hazards: Anecdotal information on possible hazards at the site for divers and snorkellers

  • The north wall of Rathlin drops off to 200 metres where strong down currents are common.
  • Strong tidal streams.
  • Lobster pots and broken fishing lines are found on the site.
  • Beware of swell from NW.
Description: A general description of the physical features of the dive site

The upper shelf in this area is mainly at a depth of 23m. There is a second small shelf at approximately 33m from which the archway. The shelf itself is covered in small boulders. The top of the arch is at approximately 25m and the base at approximately 32m. The arch measures approximately 4m high and 8m wide. On the eastern side of the arch there is a small gully leading to a smaller second arch in 35m (2m high by 3m wide). The north side of this arch leads to a sheer cliff. On the shelf to the east of the large arch there are two caves and there is a further small cave immediately to its west side. On the east side of the arch there is a boulder slope, on the western side the shelf drops onto a sheer wall, part of the north wall.

Biodiversity: A description of the species composition at the site. Species of interest are highlighted. Follow the links for more information about the species on the NBN Atlas Northern Ireland website

The arch is densely encrusted with animal turf, including dead mans fingers Alcyonium digitatum, Devonshire cup corals Caryophyllia smithii, elephant’s hide sponge Pachymatisma johnstonia, the sandled anemone Actinothoe sphyrodeta and dense colonies of the sea squirts Dendrodoa grossularia and white Parazoanthus anguicomus, and yellow, Parazoanthus axinellae, cluster anemones. There is a large patch of the soft coral Alcyonium hibernicum on the underside of the arch towards its north (wall) edge.

View all species records from this site

A link to the dive site location on the NBN Atlas Northern Ireland website, showing all species records from within a 1km boundary of the site centroid. Any new species records from the site submitted to Seasearch, iRecord, CEDaR Online Recording or iNaturalist will appear here
Local Charters: A link to the website for the nearest Dive Centre to the site. A map of all dive centres is provided under ‘Go Diving’


Environmental and Historical Designations: A list of any environmental or historical designations attributed to the site, or overlapping it. Follow the link for more information

Rathlin SAC
Rathlin MCZ
Rathlin Island SPA

More Information: Links to additional information found online for the dive site

North Antrim Diving

Dive site directory

Rathlin Dive Expedition 2019 Report

Northern Ireland Marine MapViewer

Safety: Safety tips

  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
  • Follow VHF radio Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), the international distress frequency. Send a distress alert followed by ‘MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY’ and ‘This is [boat name]’.
  • Find nearest defibrillator (AED) here.
  • Ballycastle/Rathlin Harbour Office No. 028 207 68525 Mobile Number 07803 505084
  • When navigating within Ballycastle or Rathlin Harbour, use VHF Channel 80.
Latitude, Longitude: The approximate XY coordinates for the dive site in Decimel Degrees (DD). These can be converted to DMS or DDM by following the link below
55.307883, -6.2692

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