Sea Life in New England Waters

When I was only four years old, my favorite TV show was “Sea Hunt” starring Lloyd Bridges. For those of you who aren’t old enough to remember, “Sea Hunt” was a fictional TV drama about the adventures of a scuba diver. Watching that show back when I was just a little boy of four, began a life long fascination for me with scuba diving. I wanted to be Mike Nelson, Lloyd Bridges’ character on “Sea Hunt” and become a diver and fight with the bad guys underwater!

I also wanted to be “The Lone Ranger” and fight bad guys out in The Wild West.

I never did become “The Lone Ranger”, and the only time in my life that people ever exclaimed “Who was that masked man, anyway?” after I had just left the scene… was in high school when I “streaked” through the cafeteria, wearing only a mask and track shoes, and nothing else.

And no one would have known it was me, if it hadn’t been for a few girls there, who recognised me by a certain part of my anatomy, that had left them with a lasting and positive impression! Of course they had to go bragging about it, and I ended up getting in big and embarrassing trouble! And that was my first and last experience with “streaking”.

Again, for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember, “streaking” was this silly fad back in the early 1970s, when people shocked everyone by dashing naked through public places. But the fad died out after too many people had done it, and instead of being shocking, it just became boring…

A boring streaker getting what he deserves!

So, although I never became “The Lone Ranger”, I did eventually become a scuba diver, and I’ve been diving for over 30 years. But unlike my hero, Mike Nelson in “Sea Hunt” I’ve never had any fights with bad guys underwater, and I don’t know any other divers who have, either.

There are far more interesting and exciting things to do underwater than fight with bad guys, and I have many great memories of my diving experiences, both locally here where I live in New England, as well as at numerous tropical dive destinations that my wife and I have enjoyed together, during our vacations through the years.

Tropical scuba diving is far more spectacular than diving here in New England, but tropical dive vacations can be expensive, and I’d rather not limit my diving to only ten days a year. So I still enjoy diving locally as well.

Earlier this week, I was describing to a friend some of my favorite critters to see when scuba diving in New England waters. Here are some of them:

This is a Wolf Fish. As you can see, they get pretty big. They also have very strong jaws and a mouth full of big teeth like a wolf. One bite could easily crush your hand. But they aren’t aggressive unless you really bother them. I try to be very polite around Wolf Fish – and refrain from telling them jokes they don’t understand. Cause these things don’t know if you’re laughing with them or at them!

Next up, is the Striped Bass. This is a large, streamlined and very handsome fish. You think it strange that I call a fish handsome? Just look at some of the people wandering around, and I think you’ll get my point. Stripers are a favorite sport fish with saltwater fishermen, and they can get pretty big at around four feet long and weighing 50 pounds. I’m always impressed when I see a Striper while diving. They have big eyes and look intelligent. No, I don’t want to date one – I just think they’re cool.

In stark contrast to the Striper, our next entry is about as ugly as it gets, and is really weird as well. This is the Goose Fish. They look like enormous swimming heads with huge mouths pin cushioned with teeth. The rest of their body is very small, ending in a comparatively small tail. The big ones have mouths over two feet wide. They often lay camouflaged on the bottom, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. I’ve heard stories about divers setting down a fin near a hidden Goose Fish, and suddenly having it half swallowed! But they quickly spit it back out, because I guess diver’s fin is not their favorite food.

Believe it or not, some of you may have actually eaten part of a Goose Fish. The only edible part is the tail, and known as Monk Tail fillet. (Goose Fish are also called Monk Fish – I have no idea why.) But no discussion about Goose Fish would really be complete, without this picture:

This is the immortal Julia Child, getting ready to slice up and dice a Goose Fish. Only Julia would take on a task like this. She truly was an original, and God rest her soul. That whole thing with Dan Akroyd and the Bass Master Blender? That was weak! The real Julia could do things to make a strong man weak in the knees! I’ve always wanted her… But please don’t tell my wife!

Now that’s a WOMAN!!!

Our last entry is the Atlantic Torpedo Ray. They’re about three feet across at their widest section and tend to lay on the bottom without moving, even when a diver hovers right over them. There’s a reason for this… Torpedo Rays are electric, can discharge 220 volts, and have no reason to fear much of anything.

Early in my diving experience, I found a Torpedo Ray, and having no idea what it was, I kicked it with my fin – expecting it to swim away. Instead, it rose up off the bottom, turned to face me, and started swimming towards me. It was like the Robert Di Niro of sea life, looking me in the eye and saying “Are YOU talking to ME???” I had to swim backwards about fifteen feet before it stopped advancing on me. I now know my place, and have never messed with another one since.

I wanted to show some pix of the really big orange and white sea anemones that I used to see all the time 20 years ago. But I guess that they are very sensitive to water quality, and since coastal pollution has increased, they are now only found at the deeper levels around 100 feet. Too bad…

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my little pictorial of what lies beneath New England Ocean waters.

 

About Chris Sheridan

I’m a 56 year old guy who is young (and immature) at heart, and I love humor and laughter. Married for 22 years, but still enjoy all the glories of womanhood everywhere, even while dedicated to one woman only - and I hope my wife never finds out about her!
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4 Responses to Sea Life in New England Waters

  1. Where were you diving in new england that had such good viz? I don’t even see any “snow” in the pictures! I just got earned my divemaster ticket up in Maine (In December. In a Wetsuit.) and I have seldom (never?) seen water like that up there…

  2. Congrats on becoming a Divemaster! Although I don’t dive New England nearly as much as I used to, I’ve been diving in a wetsuit in NE waters at least once in every month of the year. I still dive in a wetsuit, and as I’m sure you know it seems like almost everyone dives in drysuits in cold waters now. Like you must be, I’m a bit of a polar bear and I just don’t get cold enough to justify the expense and aggravation of a drysuit. The viz? Almost all my diving has been in the Cape Ann area of North shore MA, usually at Rockport and Gloucester MA dive sites, and 20 feet of visibility is considered to be very good visibility around here, since it’s often much less than that. But there’s a very popular shore dive site called Folly Cove that consistently gets 20 feet of viz as long as you go early enough in the morning before other divers get it all stirred up.

    I did do one Cape Ann dive on the wreck of the Chester Poling and we were astounded when we got down to the wreck at 90 ft and we had approx 60 ft of visibility and we could actually see most of the wreck! But that’s the only time I’ve ever experienced visibility that good around here.

    • the only time I’ve ever seriously considered getting a dry suit was after I had been diving under the ice in the rivers of western Maine to run a gold dredge. We hiked over pack ice to drop into the center of the river, where the water was moving fast enough not to have frozen. We were hypothermic, despite 15 mil wetsuits.

      I’ve never gone diving in MA, but 20 foot vis is about the best we get up north. But even then we get that particulate snow that hazes up pictures.

      Delighted to have met you. I’m looking forward to reading more. :-)

      • I went ice diving once in a wetsuit, but that was in a lake, and not nearly as difficult as what you describe. Wow… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 15 mil wetsuit before! That kind of diving, if it was something you did frequently, would justify a dry suit. Pleased to meet you as well! I always enjoy talking to other divers, and I’m sure I’ll be over to visit your blog soon. Thanks for stopping by mine. :-)

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