Star Tunicates and a Vibrating Lumpfish

The first dive site was off the beautiful stone house at Gully Point in Rockport, MA.  It is dive site 36 in The Diver's Guide to Cape Ann.  Its coordinates are 42 degrees 39.641 minutes North and 70 degrees 36.076 minutes West.  We could see that the red tide hadn't left yet.  Pete said the visibility was brown and murky for the first 15-17 feet and then the visibility cleared up below that to about 20 feet.   But it was much colder on the bottom – 42 degrees.  The tide was coming in, with high due at 1:44 PM.

We had friends Roz and John Fiandaca on board, as well as Laurent Dubois and John, the student.  Jacki Kronenberg joined us for the first dive in her new drysuit. 

Pat Walsh located one of the "Ten Most Wanted" species by the Salem Sound Coastwatch during her dive and Fred took its picture.  We decided it was a Star Tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri).

We saw lots of ocean kayakers exit from Rockport harbor and pass us on their way out to the ocean side of Straitsmouth Island.  Their boats looked like flower petals clustered in the little Gully Point cove as they rested and took a water break.

Our second site was just a little way away.  Straitsmouth Island's north side has a cove that is great for lobstering.  Since it was Don Dunsky's birthday, Pete wanted to get him a lobster.  Laurent obliged and found a big one and two soft ones at 42 degrees 39.778 minutes north and 70 degrees 35.392 minutes west.  I saw many clumps of Star Tunicate myself on this dive.  It is site 40 in The Diver's Guide to Cape Ann.

Pete and John Bulman, the student, found a lumpfish.  Pete went to gently place his hand under its belly to lift it up for John to see better.  Pete said it started vibrating very hard and very violently – he's never seen one do that before.  He left it alone after that.

Pete says, "As we were sailing down the cliff, I felt an abrupt tug on my fin.  Fearing the worst, with a brand new student, I turned to see him calmly pointing under a rock.  A quick look confirmed a claw the size of a dinner plate.  I reached in, felt under his belly, found no eggs, and we wrestled him out.  It had a 5.25" long carapace, a 1/4" too long for the dinner pot, but a wonderful specimen to watch walking across the bottom.  That night, John went home, logged onto the Division of Marine Fisheries web site, bought a lobster license and is ready for action next weekend.  Bingo!" 

Thanks to Pete, we had hot dogs in honor of Memorial Day.  Yum!

Pete adds, actually, the hot dogs came from Pat Walsh's freezer.  Her father often buys items on sale.  There typically is three or four dozen eggs, several pounds of bacon, and numerous packages of hot dogs in their freezer.  Thanks, John!

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