Archive for July, 2006

Pictures, We’ve Got Pictures

July 31, 2006

Cathy and Bill Myers caught the lethargic sea raven on Saturday, July 29.  Cathy took its picture both before and after they let it go:

Breezy and Warm

July 30, 2006

Today was MUCH better than yesterday.  The humidity is down and the air seems fresher.  We had Paul B., Lisa and Donna R., and Jacqui R. as customers.  Pete and Pat were crew.

The breeze from the north said, “Go south.”  We putt-putted out under the Blynman Bridge at lowish tide and saw Don Dunsky waving hello from the landing above us. 

The dive site on Kettle Island was already occupied, so we anchored over on the mainland near Saddle Rock, just off the southern bluff of the Ocean Lawn of Coolidge Reservation.  The site is a sandy bottom rising to boulders and rocks along the coast.  Visibility was about 10-15 feet.  There were dozens of moon snail collars, little dusty lobsters, bulldozing crabs, marauding moon snails, and razor clam remains out on the sand under the boat.  The flounder were skittish, but the rays were oblivious.  Maybe they’ve become accustomed to divers.

Pete and Jacqui went over to the swim through behind Saddle Rock, but it was still a little too shallow for the best effect.  The southwest corner of the rock was better for scenic vistas.  The Captain and I were under the boat, videoing anything that moved.

The second dive was down the coast a little further, behind Graves Island, at the Wreck of the New Hampshire.  We wanted calmer water and we found it there.  Visibility was about 15 feet.  It seemed warmer here and I saw small striped bass up in the shallows, next to the island.  I also saw several of the 10 Most Wanted from Salem Sound Coastwatch’s list:

  • Star tunicate
  • Orange sheath tunicate
  • Green fleece

The divers explored the wreckage, marveled at the shiny, coppery spikes still embedded in it, and recovered souvenirs of crumpled copper sheathing and tiny finish nails. 

We all had fun and the day’s perfect weather added to it.

Chock-a-Block

July 29, 2006

We had a full charter today.  It was also beastly hot.  The trip north under the Blynman Bridge and out the mouth of the harbor was cool and smooth.  We anchored at the dead light on Thacher Island after deciding that conditions at Bemo Ledge weren’t good enough.  Cathy and Bill Myers, John Desmond, Paul B., Richard Brandolini, and Larry were the customers, even though John won his trip.  Laurent, Pete, Pat, and Kathy Cardinale helped us out as crew. 

Pete, Fred and John found a very lethargic sea raven who was just too tired to move as he was videoed.  The results should be very interesting because he was in the foreground and the diver was in the background.   Pete found a posse of pollack up in the shallows.  The water was about 48 on the bottom at 35 feet.

Everyone did fine at the first dive site, but the breeze freshened and we decided to try to find someplace just a little better.

The Captain said that it would be Gully Point in Rockport, so that’s where we anchored for the second dive.  I was steaming, so on with the bathing suit and off the boat for a quick plunge.  Sheesh!  It’s COLD!  Cathy said there were sea stars all over the bottom.

The divers said the visibility was about 10-15 feet, and the water was just a little warmer in Gully Cove.  Two blond little boys swam out to us from a house on shore on Marmion Way.  They were from England, “south of London” and were spending six weeks in the house.  After resting a little while on our swim platform, they proceeded out to touch a blue and white lobster buoy and then turned around to swim back in.

We kept on going around the cape as we headed for home.  Hot and breezy until we hit the Annisquam River, then it was just HOT!

The tide was in as we docked, so the trip up the ramp was easy to make. 

Good day.  Good divers.

From Cool and Drizzley to Overcast and Humid

July 23, 2006

We’ve come almost full circle.  The overnight hours had severe lightning and thunderstorms.  We drove around before the charter started and found that going north had the fewest waves.  There wasn’t much wind anywhere.

So, back to the north side of the cape we went.  I tried to go around Halibut Point, but the waves were building and The Captain vetoed that.  We came back to S & M, a good spot for lobstering off Lanesville Shores, north of Plum Cove.  The house with the S on its veranda has been renovated and the letter is gone.  The house with the M on its veranda has let the maintenance go a little and the M as lost its left leg.  The letter is now a backwards N.  Life goes on.

The tide had turned and started out before we anchored.  Our customers included Jackie Riley, Laurent Dubois, and Richard Brandolini.  Richard dived with Veronica Atlantis who was crewing today.  Laurent was on his own.  Jackie tried Pat’s dry suit, but decided the neck seal was too tight to be comfortable.  She waited until the second dive to try Pat’s summer suit instead.

I videoed more orange sheath and star tunicates.  The bottom seemed dusty to me.  There was a lot of silt, and visibility was about 10 to 15 feet.  The water temp was 61 on the surface.

We moved back to Plum Cove for the second dive.  There were lots of lobsters, small and big.  I saw fish fry and videoed them in front of a hermit crab in a moon snail shell.  He had blue claws and eye stalks.  Kinda like a lady with eye shadow matching her nail polish.

I also saw a founder that was lying on its right side, with the left side up.  A left-handed flounder.  That’s pretty unusual.  There were three good sized striped bass up in the shallows.  Pete said it was 61 degrees both on the top and the bottom at about 20 feet.  Jacki was warm enough in Pat’s summer suit and enjoyed the dive in it.

There were lots of little shrimp in the water near the surface.  Maybe they were whale food.  Pete saw his first summer flounder of the season.  There have been only winter flounder up until now.

I found another club tunicate, Styela clava, to shoot.  It was mottled brown and grey.  The video shows its siphons very clearly.

Everyone ended the dive by hanging around the stern in the water, still in their suits, enjoying the shards of sun that were peeking through the clouds.    Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Warm, calm, and floaty.

From Hazy and Humid to Cool and Rainy

July 22, 2006

Tropical Storm Beryl breezed by with nary a ripple. The ocean was flatter than flat. The only problem was the fog. We watched the rowers return to Dun Fudgin ramp as the Blackburn Challenge row around Cape Ann race was canceled.  We putted up the river, northward, anyway.

As we entered Essex Bay, the fog seemed to be coming and going.  We saw several dive boats anchored at Hodgkins Cove, so we continued closer to Plum Cove beach.  The area that looked best to us was just at the base of the large estate on the southern edge of the cove.  We know from our crew member, Kathy Cardinale, that it is owned by the CEO of New Balance, Jim Davis.

We had Alex and Pam, Bill Low, and Brian, a new diver.  Pete took him on a guided tour of the place.  Bill reported he saw lots of cunner and that the surface was 62 degrees, while it was 58 degrees at about 30 feet.

The Captain videoed and I rowed around in the Zodiac to keep a dive flag over whoever was the furthest from the boat.  The fog bank was moving offshore, but I didn’t want to take a chance.  Plus, it’s good exercise.

Pam made sandwiches and Pat Walsh passed one to me in the boat.  Ambrosia!

By the second dive, we had decided to stay where we were.  This time Bill said it was 62 degrees on both the surface and on the bottom where it was a little shallower near shore.  He saw lots of baby lobsters and skates.  Visibility was about 15 feet.

The rain held off until we were 1/2 way home.  Then it poured.  As we neared the marina, the chilly wind from the south made it even cooler as we docked.  Then everything stopped as we unloaded.  Thank goodness.

Oh well, it could have been much worse if Beryl had been closer and slower.

MADMF Responds to My Inquiry

July 21, 2006

Cecil,

The band that you reported is a lobster trap tag. It is commonplace for commercial lobstermen out of curiosity to tag a lobster with an old trap tag just to see where the lobsters move. This particular lobster is not part on any study we are conducting.

I did however want to let you know that MADMF does have some ongoing lobster tagging studies both in Massachusetts Bay and Buzzards Bay. Please see the attached notice. Feel free to distribute to any of your fellow divers.Robert Glenn

Senior Marine Fisheries Biologist

Marine Fisheries

50a Portside Drive

Pocasset, MA 02559

(508) 563 – 1779 x 113

Robert.Glenn@state.ma.us

—–Original Message—–

From: Christensen, Cecile A. [mailto:CACHRISTENSEN@PARTNERS.ORG]

Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2006 12:43 PM

To: Glenn, Robert (FWE)

Subject: Lobster with Purple Band

Hi, Robert…

I am crew on the scuba charter boat, Easy Diver, out of Gloucester, MA.  I found your name on the Personnel and Assigned Species list on the  Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries website. I’m hoping you can point me  in the correct direction.

Last Sunday, while diving off the southwest corner of Kettle Island in Manchester, MA, a fellow crew member, Peter Donahue, found a lobster with an unusual band on its claw. It was a large, but legal-sized, lobster with a notched tail, with no eggs, and with a purple band on its claw, up by the joint. The band said MA 04 on one side and 6224 on the other. He left it alone.

We thought it might be part of some scientific study and wanted to report its whereabouts to the study sponsor. Can you tell who that is?

Thanks,

Cecile Christensen

Seal Pup from July 9th Trip

July 18, 2006

We were able to put together some video of the little guy.

Kettle Island, Squared

July 16, 2006

It was a windless and steamy Sunday.  Lisa was aboard to have her first scuba experience.  Jon with No H, Laurent, and Joe Finkhouse were on a lobster hunt.  Pete, Pat, Veronica, and I joined The Captain as crew.

We had already decided to take Lisa to the shallow beach on Kettle Island for starters.  When we got there, the rowing to shore was back and forth several times with the gear for her and the other women.  That left the guys on their own.

They chose the site on the southwest corner of the island and stayed there for both dives.  Pete said the water was clear enough and warm enough.  Jon said the bottom was probably 45 degrees. 

Pete found a large, but legal-sized, lobster with a notched tail, with no eggs, and with a purple band on its claw, up by the joint.  The band said MA 04 on one side and 6224 on the other.  He left it alone.  Maybe it was the kind of marker that a marine science group would have used to label the animal as part of some kind of study.  We’ll look into what that might be.

We thought the ocean’s surface was about 52 degrees back on the beach.  Lisa was a good sport and could do a mean surface dive before she even met us.  All geared up, she was comfortable diving with a 50 cubic foot tank for her first experience.  She logged her dive with a notation that she saw a little lobster waving its claws at her as well as a hermit crab.  Beats seeing the littered bottom of a pool as your first dive.

When they rounded the corner of the island to pick us up again, the guys were quietly proud to have done very well in the lobstering department.  We were starving and waded through Veronica’s snacks.  Thanks for bringing ’em, V!

Pete powered us back to the marina as the tide rose. 

Some of us stayed to suffer through strawberry cheesecake, chocolate cake, ice cream, or Greek salads at The Gull.

Good weekend.

Not Really Hazy, Hot, or Humid

July 15, 2006

Two new customers, Tom and Herb, had never dived Thacher Island and wanted to try it. Laurent and Larry had no problem with going there. Everyone was intent on finding lobsters.  Kathy Cardinale joined us as crew.

We anchored in about 30 feet of water near the Dead Light.  Off in the distance toward the northeast, we saw a seal’s head.  This time it was one of the adults.

I found more of the orange sheath tunicates as well as star tunicates.  I also found a decorator crab who was draped in deep red filmy sea weed.  It looked like a lady who was going to a formal.  Its white front legs and claws had the look of long, elbow-length opera gloves in silvery satin.  I videoed it and noticed a little, white barnicle above its right eye.  The feathery tentacles of the barnicle were sweeping the whole time I was filming.  Think the reverse of an old-fashioned black beauty spot.  Quite a drama queen of a decorator crab.

Pete said he saw 11 dog fish out deeper.  Larry saw a few or them too.  Wish I had.

The Captain called for calmer water for the second dive.  We went looking for something “in the lee.”  It was mid-tide, so we were careful to find a place that didn’t have a roaring current.

Finally found it off Halibut Point.  I anchored in 22 feet of water between Folly Cove and Halibut Point’s huge pile of broken granite blocks.  We made a dive to search for more video subjects for Salem Sound Coastwatch’s 10 Most Wanted list of non-native species.  I found orange sheath tunicate in three different shades of orange, deep red, and burnt umber. 

The two new guys found lobsters and seemed to enjoy themselves. 

We ended the day by continuing around the cape and then down the Annisquam to the marina.  The pleasure boat anchorage across from Lobster Cove was packed with every type of craft from kayaks to huge sail boats.  Dirt’s Dogs was doing a great business, having negotiated with the other catamaran on site to only sell drinks, not hot dogs.

In contrast, we chowed down on Kathy’s organic cherries and bologna sandwiches.

The day ended breezily and left us looking foward to tomorrow’s version of H,H, and H.

The Customers are Revolting!

July 9, 2006

We had a super first dive at the Dead Light at Thacher Island.  The water was 50 degrees on the bottom.  Visibility was 43 feet, according to Pete.  We were anchored in about 35 feet of water, but the wind and current managed to move us out over deeper water later.

Richard Brandolini brought a CD with the photos and movies he took last week.  Here’s the video of Pete and the ocean pout who just wants to get away.  Richard also got some stills of the same fish:

Pete said he could see all the way through the fish’s gills to the outside by looking into its maw.

Veronica Atlantis was crew today.  She and Richard saw a crowd of pollack up in the shallows.  Everyone saw too-big-to-take lobsters just marching along on the bottom, not trying to hide.

Steve Gates, Cathy and Bill Myers, Jim Castelli, Laurent Dubois, and Richard Brandolini decided where we’d make the second dive.  They were not about to be trifled with.  We listened and stayed right where we were. 

That was a lucky decision because we had a visit by a baby seal as we finished.  It circled the stern of the boat and sidled up to the gray inflatable.  It cavorted behind the boat, looking up at us and seemed to be curious.  Later we saw it hauled out onto a rock directly on shore from where we were anchored.  It arched its little body to keep its tail from being in the water.  Cute little guy with BIG black eyes.

Both Cathy and Richard had cameras along.  Can’t wait to see what they shot.