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Sea Urchin Diving 1979-1983

http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/002/cache/kelp-catalina-island_255_600x450.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1979, benzoyl peroxide I began the greatest adventure of my life. Benzoyl peroxide For four years I dove Click here: Sea Urchins off the California Coast. Benzoyl peroxide I had fished commercially for 3 years prior to that time on the east coast. Benzoyl peroxide I started out fishing from Gloucester, benzoyl peroxide MA I began fishing Sea scallops on scallop Dredge boats as first a hookup man then a winchman for 3 years. Benzoyl peroxide We fished mainly Georges Banks and sometimes the Phebbenes. You may have heard of Georges Banks from the movie, benzoyl peroxide Perfect Storm? Three years and they were mostly years fishing scallops but I also fished on longline boats, benzoyl peroxide drag boats for shrimp and fluke, benzoyl peroxide (types of bottom fish similar to flounder)and black cod in Alaska. Benzoyl peroxide But that is another story. Urchins are considered a delicacy in Japan and are also eaten in other parts of the world. Benzoyl peroxide An urchin has 6 rows of eggs called uni in Japanese. Benzoyl peroxide They are invertabraes, benzoyl peroxide covered in spines and cling to the bottom of the ocean floor. Benzoyl peroxide They eat kelp. Benzoyl peroxide Urchins vary in weight and size. Benzoyl peroxide California urchins probably ranged between 1/4 pound to 1 and 1/2 pounds. Benzoyl peroxide At that time urchins brought a market price to the boat between 20 and up to possibly 30 cents a pound depending on quality and other factors. A good diver could pick 1000 to 2000 lbs of urchins in a good day at the channel islands and 500 lbs was a pretty fair day for the coast. Benzoyl peroxide Divers used what is called a hookah rig or hose which was usually 300 feet long or more. Benzoyl peroxide A compressor on the boat supplied the compressed air and through the hose or hookah, benzoyl peroxide the same principles of physics applied as if you were diving with bottles. Benzoyl peroxide We used 3/8 inch wetsuits. The best sea urchins are usually found in the thickest kelp ... Click here: kelp cutter Sea urchins are considered parasites to kelp cutters and can wipe out fields of kelp. Benzoyl peroxide Kelp is a very big industry and harvested for many uses. There are a couple types of tools used to pick urchins. Benzoyl peroxide They are basicly designed to keep the divers hand far enough away from the urchin to keep the diver from getting spined while he is in the process of picking. Benzoyl peroxide Invariably everyone was spined now and then primarily in the knees, benzoyl peroxide when starting out. Benzoyl peroxide I once drove a spine under my thumbnail to the bottom. Benzoyl peroxide It did not start to hurt until I came up from under the pressure. Benzoyl peroxide At 60 feet you are under a great deal of pressure and you have 3 lungfuls of pressurised air in your lungs, benzoyl peroxide which means if you surface quickly and hold your breath, benzoyl peroxide your lungs will explode in a very short period of time. Benzoyl peroxide We usually dove under 100 feet and tried to follow the dive tables by at least, benzoyl peroxide starting out deep, benzoyl peroxide and working in shallow to keep from getting bent or decompression sickness Click here: The Bends A metal hoop with a net suspended from it was used to collect the spineballs. Benzoyl peroxide An inner tube was used as a float bag and these bags could have anywhere between 200 to 500 hundred pounds in them. Benzoyl peroxide It is quite an art to learn how to navigate a 300 lb plus bag of urchins through kelp that is sometimes 3 foot deep. Benzoyl peroxide Once at San Nicholas Island I picked one bag of sea urchins that weighed 998 lbs. Benzoyl peroxide when it hit the dock. Benzoyl peroxide It took 2 float bags to get it to the surface. Benzoyl peroxide Much of the weight is lost during transportation because the urchin releases it's water. Diving the Channel Islands is absolutely amazingly beautiful and a lot of the time visibility is terrific. Benzoyl peroxide The coast, benzoyl peroxide however, benzoyl peroxide was usually murky. Benzoyl peroxide The many varied types of aquatic life is undescribable. My first day of diving urchins went some thing like this. Benzoyl peroxide I dove to about 35 or 40 feet and there was maybe 6 inches of visibility. Benzoyl peroxide A strong surge made it seem like I was in a washing machine. Benzoyl peroxide I was disoriented and felt very uncomfortable, benzoyl peroxide so I went up to the boat and dropped my picking tool. Benzoyl peroxide The rest of the day was spent looking for my picking tool and prying urchins of the rocks with adiving knife. Benzoyl peroxide Most of the time I was wrapped up in kelp, benzoyl peroxide disorientated and a few times ended up in my picking bag. At the end of the day I had picked about 50 lbs of urchins and made 5 dollars. Benzoyl peroxide I was exhausted and discouraged. The next day I dove on another boat and did not fair much better. Benzoyl peroxide We were diving for Sea Agar, benzoyl peroxide a type of seaweed. Benzoyl peroxide We were diving right off the breakwater in very shallow water and with a very strong surge, benzoyl peroxide like a washing machine. Benzoyl peroxide Things were going along fine when I felt a tug on my mask and noticed somehowfishing line had looped around my mask, benzoyl peroxide you know the clear monofilament. Benzoyl peroxide I did not have a knife and so I was having to unloop it from my mask when I felt a tug and realized it was also wrapped around my flipper. Benzoyl peroxide I knew if I panicked I was dead. Benzoyl peroxide After what seemed like eternity I unravelled myself from thefishing line and almost instantly found myself being dragged along the bottom by the hose hooked to my regulator and tied to my weightbelt. Benzoyl peroxide The boat was dragging anchor and to make it worse we had a dive tender someone who's topside and supposed to be tending the boat. Benzoyl peroxide He was laid back without a clue. Benzoyl peroxide Needless to say that was his last trip. Benzoyl peroxide I worked all day and picked 2 hundred pounds that day and made 20 dollars. Benzoyl peroxide Needless to say I was discouraged. On my third day I was at Santa Barbara Island and picked 600 pounds of urchins and was estatic. Benzoyl peroxide The best day I had, benzoyl peroxide many years later, benzoyl peroxide was at San Nicholas Island and I brought up 2, benzoyl peroxide998 lbs of urchins. Benzoyl peroxide We hit what was called a blackout. Benzoyl peroxide But that pales in comparison to my good friend and mentor who is stilldiving and fishing in Alaska. Benzoyl peroxide He once dove 5000 pounds a day for 3 days. If I had not met Mark I would have never dove. Benzoyl peroxide Here is a picture of his boat in Alaska 29 years later. Click here: Ketchikan Daily News | Mark's Boat During those years we dove Catalina and San Clemente, benzoyl peroxide Santa Cruz Island, benzoyl peroxide Santa Rosa Island, benzoyl peroxideAnd San Miguel. But under the water was always best.. We encountered every type of sea creature almost everyday. Benzoyl peroxide They claim the the sheepshead fish eats urchins and I once swam with them in caves off San miguel Island. Benzoyl peroxide They were twice the size of me!! A Click here: Sea Elephant swam straight toward me once at San Nicholas Island, benzoyl peroxide I just froze and he just swam on by Thankfully. Click here: Garibaldi are beautiful fish But the Giant Moray Eel are fun to feed and they will follow you around. Benzoyl peroxide All the fish love urchins and when you accidentally break one open the fish swarm like crazy. Benzoyl peroxide As vicious as the eels look, benzoyl peroxide these morey eels are rather friendly , benzoyl peroxide but don't stick your hand in some dark hole!! My best friends under water were the seals . Benzoyl peroxide They are like playful little dogs. Benzoyl peroxide Some of them liked to pull stunts like pulling on the dive hoses or trying to untie your bag full of urchins. Benzoyl peroxide They would swim straight at you then veer off a second before they hit you. Benzoyl peroxide Sometimes they would blow bubbles in our face as if mimicking us. Benzoyl peroxide This seal looks friendly enough. Benzoyl peroxide By the way Ever seen an underwater bug? The first day that I actually dove was a little rough. Benzoyl peroxide I went under the boat with shark attack Jack and swam around with one of the divers at a depth of around 35 feet. Benzoyl peroxide It was great.  The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.squidoo.com/Pugs1