Decorator Crab City and Wreck of the USF NH

We were going to try some staged shots today with videographer Kerry Hurd and his wife, Linda. Surge on the south side of Cape Ann was better than a northeast wind and fog on the north side. Lucky for us, Kerry is very mellow about everything and looking for decorator crabs, lumpfish and nudibranchs behind Kettle Island was fine with him.

I’m a huge fan of decorator crabs as readers of these trip reports already know. As Kerry’s buddy and co-videographer, I was able to find even more  of them than I expected. I lost count at six.  The first one was all in yellow on an abandoned lobster pot that was also totally frosted in a yellow invading species of tunicate.  It was hiding under a loop of rope and wasn’t immediately visible as we searched.  Then it moved.  Gotcha!

Later we found a large one on a swaying frond of kelp.  It let itself be photographed as I held the kelp still.  As the water surged around us, it lost its grip on the sea weed and fell into my palm.  It seemed completely unperturbed and climbed back onto its perch in the next surge.  That’s one reason I like them so much.  They don’t appear to be freaked out by being handled.  No scrabbling to get away.  No cringing.  They just sit there gazing back at you.  It makes me feel that they aren’t too horribly bothered by our interruption of their daily routines.

After I surfaced, Kerry kept on keepin’ on in about 20 feet of water right off the bow of Easy Diver.  He later reported finding two different kinds of nudibranchs as well as more decorator crabs.  No lumpfish yet, however.

While we were underwater, the crew and Linda were feeding gulls.  The shards of Cheez-Its were visible in the scuppers as we climbed onboard.  Pete had cooked chili and we ate the rest of the pizelles with it.  I’d also brought bluets (blueberries) to share with Pat because they’re “legal” on our “eating better” diets.  Scratch those Wavy Lays, folks.  We’re going healthy here.

For the second dive, Kerry wanted to try to find a spike and Peter wasn’t about to say “No!” to that.  The wreck of the USF New Hampshire is his favorite site.  Scouring the bottom for treasure and banging away in his special place in about 12 feet of water make the whole day shine in his eyes.  I got down again to shoot a huge hermit crab in a moon snail’s shell and a baby moon snail on the move, the latter per The Captain’s direction.  It was really too surgey to get good video, but the practice was important too.

Just for the record, the water temperature was 46 degrees at 39 feet as well as at 12 feet.  Visibility varied from 15-20 feet behind Kettle to about 10-15 feet in the more exposed Graves Island site.

As we packed up and powered back north, we could see an advancing fog bank taking over the eastern side of the harbor.  By the time we were passing Old House Cove, it had obscured 10 Pound Island.  We scooted under the Blynman Bridge as the fog closed in behind us.  We looked back into the harbor from the clear, west side of the bridge and the fog looked like a gray wall.  That would not have been to navigate through even though we have GPS.

It was good to get tied up and dried off.

Nice people.  Nice day.

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