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.