August 18, 2018 @ 08:46 & 10:41
I was supposed to go to Eastport, Maine for a SECONN trip August 17-21, but sadly we had to postpone it to a later date. So I found myself with five days off and no concrete plans…but as you’ll discover, I very quickly filled it with fun and adventure (namely lots of diving…)! On Saturday, I made the trek up to Gloucester, Massachusetts to join friends on the Charterboat 1 for a dive on the Little Salvages. The Little Salvages are a rock pile outside of Gloucester Harbor that are submerged at high tide but form a perfect place for seals to haul out and use to sunbath on during low tide.
As we were laying anchor, we could hear the cacophony that accompanies a large number of pinnipeds nearby. Bobbing in the water and laying out in the rocks were LOTS of seals. Which is definitely what you want to find if your plan is to go diving with them. After a giant stride we set off towards to the rocks. The water was pretty murky and the trademark New England green. There were five of us in the water, but we split up to encourage the seals to come check us out. I’d imagine it might be a little intimidating to be approached by a bunch of bubble blowers. And it certainly didn’t take them long to find me! I won’t lie, it was pretty disconcerting to have this giant creature appear out of the murk and swim right toward and around you. How close do they get you ask? We had a bunch of VERY curious Grey Seals and they got very close. Like, I felt their whiskers brush my face close. lol. Fun fact: the scientific name for the Grey Seal is Halichoerus grypus which means “hooked-nosed sea pig”. haha.
Once I found an area where a bunch of seals were swimming about, I camped out on a ledge overlooking a trench they seemed to enjoy swimming through. I was only in about ten feet of water so light penetration was decent, but it was still super murky. Probably only 5-10 feet of hazy visibility. The seals would swim halfway through the trench, then pop up in front of me and swim by me, and then disappear into the murk. At one point, while one was checking me out in front, another one was very stealthily creeping up behind me…and HE BIT ME. So obviously he didn’t hurt me, but he had my whole calf (and I don’t have small calves) in his mouth. So when people tell you that seals are harmless…DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Haha. Just kidding, they’re really just the puppies of the ocean and he was checking me out. But for real…it bit me. As soon as I turned around, this giant hulking mammal moved from my leg to the top of my tank which was leaking some bubbles. p.s. in case you were curious, Grey Seals on the Eastern coast can reach up to 11ft and 700lb. SEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS of playful puppy. It’s hard to tell how many I saw, cuz it could’ve easily been the same ones swimming around in circles but I’d say at least 15 individuals.
After 40 minutes, I headed back to the boat and started my surface interval. Lots of laughter and accusatory finger pointing (they told me the seals were cute and harmless…not hulking beasts that would try and nibble my leg, lol) was had along with some yummy snacks. Then back into the water we went for a shorter second dive.
While I saw some swim by, I didn’t have any seals approach on the second dive. I did manage to find a teeny tiny Sculpin…the only fish I saw the whole time. But I guess if I was dinner, I wouldn’t hang out in the home of my hunter. Haha. The rocks were covered in colorful tunicates and algaes…and so many sea stars, crabs, and lobsters. Definitely a great day of diving and a beautiful location! Even without the seals I couldn’t spent hours exploring around the rocks. There were storms on the forecast, but we managed to miss them, even saw the sun during our surface interval! However, the drive home however was marked by torrential downpours. Gotta take the good with the less than stellar I guess. 🙂
40min | 67ºF (min) 73ºF (max) | 10.7ft (avg) 17.0ft (max) | 18/50 dives for the year
17min | 67ºF (min) 76ºF (max) | 15.1ft (avg) 29.0ft (max) | 19/50