It took far longer than I would have liked, but I finally hit 100 dives! And by that I mean 100 dives that were at were at least 15 feet and lasted 20 minutes…otherwise I’d have hit 100 back in July…but I digress.
On November 6th, part of the Seaview Scuba crew headed up to Gloucester for a scallop dive with Cape Ann Divers. We were out and about before the sun was up (and we all know how well I do with early mornings…) and arrived to very, very, very cold rain. We forgot to bring our good luck charm rain gear…so we boarded the boat with grey skies, navy waters, frost on our breath, and wet gear. But that’s New England diving for you.
The air temps were in the low 40s (probably lower if you take wind chill into account), but the water was a balmy 51ºF! We were all suited up in drysuits, except for one brave soul. The first drop zone was somewhere off Marblehead Light…everything was various shades of grey, blue, and white…so I just took the Captain’s word as to our location. We jumped into the water and my flag immediately fell apart. Great start. haha. But it was pretty easily fixed…aka I got a new flag. I’m still getting used to the sensation of drysuit diving in that your head (and hands if you don’t have dry gloves) are exposed to the elements and everything else stays separated. And you immediately feel like you are being vacuum sealed once you hit the water.
So once the flag snafu was figured out, down I went. It seems like you are sinking through green water forever, but in reality it’s a couple minutes at best. Forty plus feet later, the bottom appeared out of the murk (that’s roughly 4 stories for those who need perspective). The first thing I saw was a Moon Snail (Euspira heros)! I’ll apologize in advance for the awful quality of the next couple pictures…
I had never seen one alive before, so I was super excited. haha. They’re also pretty massive – the shell was probably bigger than my fist (which isn’t that large, but to give some perspective). The foot is large and a dark bluish, grey – wish I’d thought to shine my light on it! Next time. Even though geographically Glouchester, MA and where I dive locally are close there were some fun and different critters out and about.
Can you spot the scallop? I’m pretty darn good at it. Even better at differentiating which are empty shells and which ones actually have the blue-eyed beasts. Once you fill your bag(s) or get cold or only spot feisty crabs, you tie your catch bags to your flag line and begin your ascent. Back to the green you go…it’s an odd sensation to look in all directions and only see shades of green.
Sometimes I think I’d like to see something appear out of the mirk while I’m hanging out for my safety stop…then other times I hope I see nothing but bubbles. haha.
Once everyone is back on the boat and all of the flags/bags have been retrieved, we start the tedious process of shucking our hauls. I won’t get into shucking unless you’d really like to know, because I know for a fact that it’ll gross some of you out. haha. This time around, we were given the extra task of tossing the wiggling the juvenile Red Hake (Urophycis chuss) out of their hiding places…inside the scallops! I did some light reading on it…apparently it’s a commensalistic relationship. The juvenile hake get a hiding spot while the scallops neither experiences neither benefits nor detriments. But I’ll have to do more reading on that.
Nice and “warm” between dives! The second dive was in a channel…certainly didn’t see as many scallops as I would have liked, but I did land in a minefield of Sand Dollars (Echinarachnius parma)! Another first for me as I’ve only seen their lifeless tests. Did you know that while alive, they are actually red? At least the ones we have hear in New England range from a purpleish red to brown. I was distracted by them for awhile as I drifted with the current.
Again, sorry for the awful pictures…for this one I literally just turned my light on and let it hang off my chest while I snapped the picture (the other hand was holding my flag haha). Not sure if I mentioned it yet, but this dive maxed out at 64 feet (around 6 stories). It only seems that deep while you’re ascending…otherwise it doesn’t really feel any different than at ten feet. Managed a decent haul, but nothing spectacular. Blue skies showed themselves for a brief moment, but for the most part it was a dreary New England day. But there’s nothing better than fresh scallops, so I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
That was dive 98 & 99. I finally hit dive 100 the following day. I won’t go into details, because it was fairly uneventful. But yes, I was in my birthday suit. There were people milling about so I wore a string bikini into the water…then just untied some parts once I hit the water. haha. Technically it wasn’t long enough to call it a true dive, but I’m gonna borrow minutes from some other dives and call it good. I probably could’ve done a whole 20 minutes…but I didn’t want to worry my dive buddy or my shore support. The water was a balmy 59ºF and crystal clear. Nothing quite says being one with nature like watching a colony of crabs go ham on a dead striper while you’re floating without anything but your gear on. haha. It was decidedly colder outside of the water than in it. And yes, I cheated and wore a hood and gloves…but I didn’t want an ice cream headache and I have a propensity to want to pick up rocks or poke things out of their hiding spots.
Not sure yet if that was a once and done or if I’ll do it again when I hit 200. We’ll see. 😛 I haven’t been in the water since and it’s seriously bumming me out (the two minutes we spent realizing there was no way we could see our hands in front of our faces underwater…nevermind each other doesn’t count)…so if anyone wants to dive on a Saturday night, Sunday, or Monday, let me know!