5/29/18 17:44 w/ Eric Heupel
52min | 57°F (min) 61°F (max) | 12ft (avg) 19ft (max) | 5/50 dives for the year
My new job is pretty amazing, however, they’re sending me off to spend a few weeks on a 62’ boat in the Gulf of Mexico, which means no diving. So I decided to get in as many dive days as I could! After work on Tuesday, I headed out to Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, Rhode Island for a twilight dive (ps. if you google Twilight and forget to add “definition” you don’t get what you were looking for…).
I had looked at my dive logs and seen that around this time last year, I had switched over to my 5mm suit when the water was around 55°F…so I decided to ditch the 7mm (which feels (and looks…) like I’m rolling myself into a sausage casing…it’s not fun, but it keeps me warm, so I deal haha). What a good decision! Water averaged about 58°F and my hands got cold towards the end of the dive, otherwise I was quite toasty! I was also wearing a 5mm hood and 7mm gloves. My feet are normally my limited factor as far as heat comfort goes…but I tried out a pair of Wetsox and they worked wonders!
But on to the good stuff. Eric and I dropped down into 4 feet of water and while he was making some final adjustments to his camera setup I looked over and saw a tiny little snout! Sadly it didn’t belong to the mythical Northern Seahorse, but it did belong to his close relative, the Northern Pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus) ! If you’ve ever been diving with me, I’m sure you know that I can spend a LOT of time staring at one critter…now that I have a camera? It’s even worse…or better? Haha. As I was inching closer to the Pipefish, another one came up out of the seaweed! Guys, I get excited over the little things…so you’d better believe that I squealed in excitement (and got a mouth full of water for my troubles…). After watching them for a few minutes, I scooted out of the way so that Eric could get a few shots.
We tooled around in the eelgrass beds for a bit and flirted with the Cunner and what I at first glance thought were Sticklebacks, but were actually juvenile Cod (Gadus morhua)! There were SO MANY. They dart here and there in the blink of an eye, so it was hard to capture one on film. But It was certainly a night of loving..I stumbled upon quite a few pairs of critters in flagrante delicto…fish, crabs, snails…you name it, they were doing it. haha.
As I was preparing to head towards the sandy area to search for some flatfish, I looked down and spotted some teeth and a pair of eyes staring at me! I’d spotted my first Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) of the dive! I saw more than ten as the dive went on…a few definitely startled me as they shot out from UNDER me. They are absolute masters of blending in. So if you ever hear me laughing on a night dive, it’s usually because a dinner-sized flounder decided he wanted to leave his hiding spot and shot past me.
Finally, we hit the sandy portion. By this point the sun was mostly gone, so I turned on my Kraken light to use as well as the light on my camera. One of the first things I spotted once I turned my light on was a MASSIVE (comparatively) fish tail…it was a Striped Sea Robin (Prionotus evolans)! Easily the biggest I’ve ever seen. It quickly swam away, but left his partner there for Eric and I to snag quick pix of. I’ve found these guys to either be super cooperative or they want nothing to do with you.
By this point my hands were starting to get a little chilly and we’d definitely surpassed our “let’s dive for half an hour” goal, so we began the trek back. I feel like we passed a Summer Flounder every five to ten feet on the sandy portion…I stopped taking pictures of them because there were so many! They look you right in the eye and dare you to prove their presence haha.
We stumbled upon quite a few Portly Spider Crabs (Libinia emarginata)…but only this pair was worthy of a photo. 😛
It’s amazing how everything looks different when it’s night…it all takes on a cloak of eeriness when your world shrinks to what you can see with your dive lights. But I love it. Definitely an amazing start to the summer dive season! And last but not least, when we were in less than four feet of water again, I spotted some Shortfin Sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius)! The little buggers are near impossible to photograph sometimes…you get your shot lined up, your light on it correctly, then they hop a few inches away! Like a lot of New England species, they are also masters of blending in with their surroundings. So it’s always a good dive when you spot a few of the little ones.
All dives are good dives in my book…some are just better than others. And this one certainly ranks up there in the top.