Archive for July, 2006

Verification Day

July 8, 2006

Barbara Warren and Diane Brousseau joined us today.  They are with Salem Sound Coastwatch and were onboard to verify whether we were, indeed, finding Didemnum sp.  as often as we were reporting it.  Turns out we were not.

We anchored for the first dive at Stone Garage, near Bemo Ledge.  Again, the visibility was good.  Pete said it was 38 feet.  The surface was 57 and the bottom was 52 degrees.

Bob and Bethany Brousseau from Rhode Island were happy with the visibility too.  Bethany said they have been diving with only 8 feet of vis and thought this was wonderful.  We saw lots of pollack that hung just at the edge of visibility.  If you sat very still, they would cautiously approach to see what you were doing.  Upon your first exhale, they’d scoot.

Jacki Kronenberg and Laurent Dubois also liked the site.  Laurent got some lobster and Jacki tried out her new, shocking green aluminum 80 tank.

Pete brought up a huge rock that was covered with a candidate for Didemnum-hood, but it turned out to be orange sheath tunicate.  The rest of the dive, we only brought up more of that.   Pat and Barbara posed for video of using the handheld GPS.

The second dive was at The Dead Light at Thacher Island.  The boat was anchored in 22 feet but drifted over 50 feet by the time we splashed down.  I followed the anchor line into a rocky ledge and found what turned out to be orange sponge and a small, pregnant spider crab with sponge growing on her nose.  We returned her after validating what her nasal adornment was.

The Captain videoed and then brought up a sheet of tunicate that may, indeed, be the Didemnum sp.  Barbara and Diane took pieces of it to get a second opinion. 

Pete and Jacki saw a huge, blue lobster out and walking around.  It was dusty and had barnicles on its back.  They said it was just moping along the bottom, not trying to hide or get away as they approached.  Neat!

We saw a school of pollack here too.  I also saw the first of the gooseberry jellyfish that look like blimps with lines of iridescent color pulsing around their thimble-sized bodies.

The water was flat and there was no wind at all.  Barbara called the conditions “oily.” 

We had a clear shot home under a milky sky.  Not too hot, but not cold either. 

Just right.

It Was a 4 J Day

July 4, 2006

We have Jared, Jesse, Jim, and Jacki as divers, with Trisha as anchor-puller and “We Ah Hee Ah!” Announcer.  The plan was to get enough lobsters for Pete’s cookout.  To that end, we anchored off the cemetery at Lanesville Shores North.  It equates to dive site 08 in the Diver’s Guide to Cape Ann.  It was 42 degrees 41.260′ north and 70 degrees 38.962′ west.

The water was cold at 35 feet according to Pat.  Pete found a three foot long spiny dog fish, a. k. a. shark.  Jared took pictures of a lobster that was too big:

 Jared's Too Big LobsterPhoto by Jared Salk

There were plenty of lobsters. 

 Jared and Jesse also saw a skate and took its picture:

Jared's SkatePhoto by Jared Salk

The second site was the restaurant at Folly Cove.   We anchored in about 35 feet and the bottom was cold.  I drifted to about 45 feet looking for video-able critters.  Saw a pretty big sea bass under a ledge, but couldn’t film him because there was too much shadow.  He was dark with black and grey and silver scales.

There were scarlet psolus that had already retracted and a long string of sea peaches on the edge of a rock.  The water wasn’t as clear as it had been on the south side of the cape yesterday.  I’d guess it was about 15 feet of visibility. 

Or, as Pete jokes, “It was 30 feet of visibility…15 feet to the left and 15 feet to the right.”

Everyone chowed down on cold cut sandwiches on the trip back down the river to home.

Off to Pete’s July 4th cookout.

Stone Garage and Bemo Ledge

July 3, 2006

What glorious weather!  Sunny, breezy, no fog, just perfect.  We left the marina a little early to go south with a full charter.  Pat and Karen Hatcher, Jim Castelli, Richard Brandolini, Paul Comerford and Alice were ready to go lobstering and sight-seeing – heavy on the lobstering.  We turned the corner at the Dog Bar Breakwater and didn’t encounter the conditions that had turned us back in the past.  Clear sailing along the coast northward past Brace Cove to Stone Garage.  It is 42 degrees 40.768′ north and 70 degrees 37.252′ west.

The divers suited up quickly because there was almost no breeze and full sun.  Looking down from the bridge, I could see Peter on the bottom, checking the anchor.  He reported that there was about 30 feet of visibility.  That’s wonderfull and unusual.  Everyone jumped in to see for themselves.

The downside was that the water was cold.  50 degrees on the bottom.  The site has lots of boulders and crevasses to explore, plus sea ravens and pollack.  Pat reported lots of Didemnum – the pancake batter stuff we’re tracking for Salem Sound Coastwatch – on the sides of rocks.  Not much kelp.  Good lobster country.

After about 45 minutes, everyone was up and ready to try another good lobster site with similar clear water, if possible.  I decided to move closer to Bemo Ledge in the hopes of finding just such conditions.  The tide was low and turning.

We anchored quickly and no one wanted to be last.  Then all the lobsters would have been caught by others.  I jumped in with a full tank and videoed Pat and Karen Hatcher with Salem Sound Coastwatch prompt cards searching for the non-native species on them.  There may be credits for them in the final film.

Pete and Richard buddied again and had a strange encounter with an ocean pout.  As Pete gently lifted it onto his palm, it reacted.  Richard shot photos of it lunging at Pete’s head, but stopping inches short of his face.  He promised to let us use the shots if they come out.  Should be an interesting composition. 

The tide started returning in force by the end of the dive.  It was all I could do to churn back to the boat’s dive platform with the camera in my hand when I surfaced a few yards behind it.  The current was only on the surface, so others could drop below it and return easier. 

We all managed to return to the boat at about the same time, with Laurent and Jim Castelli bringing back an as-large-as-you-can-take lobasaurous.  They were happy with the hunting.

We passed out cold cut sandwiches and drinks on the ride back into the marina.  We were lucky in that we could still squeak under the Blynman Bridge without it having to be raised. 

Everyone said they had fun. 

We certainly did. 

 Alice, Richard Brandolini, and Pat Walsh on board Easy Diver.  Photo by Paul Comerford, using Richard’s camera.

A Little Bit of This – A Little Bit of That

July 2, 2006

“It was supposed to be 90 degrees today,” Janine reminded me.  She took Al’s place on the charter and mentioned this as we were both getting soaked by the rain on the bow.  It was the first dive site at Hoop Pole Cove and we were watching for bubbles.  Larry, Bill Low, Bill and Cathy Myers and their friend, Adam, were all in the 48 degree water already.  The wind was brisk and pushed cat’s paws and dark patches across the cove from the southwest.

The Captain, Veronica Atlantis, Pete and Pat were also underwater.  The depth was about 30 feet and the tide was low.  Fred and Veronica found Lobzilla, a huge lobster, that was too big to take by about 1/4 inch, according to Pat.  He went back into the drink quickly.

Pat said she saw a Northern Red Anemone that had red and white spiral stripes down its tendrils.  Pete saw lots of kelp stalks where the frond had been broken off.  Veronica reported that she saw the star tunicate we’ve been tracking for Salem Sound Coastwatch as well as Didemnum in large amounts.

Looking for calm water, we moved further around Emerson Point towards Rockport Harbor for the second dive.  I picked Fisherman’s Canyon.  It is 42 degrees 40.768′ north and 70 degrees 37.252′ west.  I used my 1/2 tank from yesterday because it is so good for videoing.  I taped a large, yellow- stalked tunicate that retracted when I touched it gently.

The wind died during the dive, so the trip home down the western shore of the Cape was lots calmer than it was yesterday.  Janine rode on the bow the whole way home.

It got very hot in the parking lot as we were hauling equipment up the ramp.  90 degrees for sure.

We finished the day with strawberry shortcake at The Gull Restaurant.

We had a little bit of everything today.

Oh, What a BeeYooTeeFull Morning!

July 1, 2006

Forecast is for clear, warm weather with light winds.  We go south, through the Blynman Bridge, and hook a left at the Dog Bar Breakwater.  Low, slow rollers and not much else greets us.  No fog.  The trip up the coast of the Cape is cool and wonderfully refreshing compared to the heat of the marina.

The first dive site that looks good enough is Gully Point.  The west wind allows us to anchor facing the east wall of the point.  Our stern is in 47 feet and the tide is low.  Six customers splash as soon as possible because the sun is beating down on their black suits.  Kevin and Linsley Mordasky, Bob Britton, Bill Low, Linda Giles and Myanna are off up and into Gap Cove.  Linda and Myanna are lobster hunting. 

Pete, Pat and Kathy Cardinale are the crew for today.  They’re all off in a flash too.  This is Kathy’s first dive in a while and she’s svelte in her wetsuit.  Pete said they saw lots of skates, little lobsters, and sea ravens.  Kevin and Linsley said they saw a yellow one.

The water was colder than it has been.  Pete said it was 52 on the bottom and 55 on the surface.  He said all the evidence of red tide has gone.  He noticed a thermocline  and its attendant swirling eddys at about 20 feet.

Our second dive was just across Sandy Bay at a site between Granite Pier and Pigeon Cove.  It was 42 degrees 40.196′ north and 70 degrees 37.203′ west.  I anchored in 28 feet of water and the boat swung to where it read 35 feet under the keel. 

I used the heavy black-coated steel tank and it was very helpful for videoing.  It kept me bolted to the bottom when I wanted to be rock steady.

I saw some orange sheath tunicates and so did The Captain.  Not many.  Every hard surface was coated with new growth sea weed in a common color – maroon.  Puff balls of new sea weed were deep red and fuzzy looking.  Older stands were purpley-red colored.  How many variations of deep brownish, reddish purple can you think of?  They were all there.

Again, the water was cold.  The divers were happy to be shallower on this dive.  Pete saw a large school of pollack.  All the hunters caught lobsters.  The sightseers saw critters and had fun too.

Nice people.  Nice time.