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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, buy prandin cod I began the greatest adventure of my life. Buy prandin cod For four years I dove Click here: Sea Urchins off the California Coast. Buy prandin cod I had fished commercially for 3 years prior to that time on the east coast. Buy prandin cod I started out fishing from Gloucester, buy prandin cod MA I began fishing Sea scallops on scallop Dredge boats as first a hookup man then a winchman for 3 years. Buy prandin cod We fished mainly Georges Banks and sometimes the Phebbenes. You may have heard of Georges Banks from the movie, buy prandin cod Perfect Storm? Three years and they were mostly years fishing scallops but I also fished on longline boats, buy prandin cod drag boats for shrimp and fluke, buy prandin cod (types of bottom fish similar to flounder)and black cod in Alaska. Buy prandin cod But that is another story. Urchins are considered a delicacy in Japan and are also eaten in other parts of the world. Buy prandin cod An urchin has 6 rows of eggs called uni in Japanese. Buy prandin cod They are invertabraes, buy prandin cod covered in spines and cling to the bottom of the ocean floor. Buy prandin cod They eat kelp. Buy prandin cod Urchins vary in weight and size. Buy prandin cod California urchins probably ranged between 1/4 pound to 1 and 1/2 pounds. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod Divers used what is called a hookah rig or hose which was usually 300 feet long or more. Buy prandin cod A compressor on the boat supplied the compressed air and through the hose or hookah, buy prandin cod the same principles of physics applied as if you were diving with bottles. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod Kelp is a very big industry and harvested for many uses. There are a couple types of tools used to pick urchins. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod Invariably everyone was spined now and then primarily in the knees, buy prandin cod when starting out. Buy prandin cod I once drove a spine under my thumbnail to the bottom. Buy prandin cod It did not start to hurt until I came up from under the pressure. Buy prandin cod At 60 feet you are under a great deal of pressure and you have 3 lungfuls of pressurised air in your lungs, buy prandin cod which means if you surface quickly and hold your breath, buy prandin cod your lungs will explode in a very short period of time. Buy prandin cod We usually dove under 100 feet and tried to follow the dive tables by at least, buy prandin cod starting out deep, buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod An inner tube was used as a float bag and these bags could have anywhere between 200 to 500 hundred pounds in them. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod Once at San Nicholas Island I picked one bag of sea urchins that weighed 998 lbs. Buy prandin cod when it hit the dock. Buy prandin cod It took 2 float bags to get it to the surface. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod The coast, buy prandin cod however, buy prandin cod was usually murky. Buy prandin cod The many varied types of aquatic life is undescribable. My first day of diving urchins went some thing like this. Buy prandin cod I dove to about 35 or 40 feet and there was maybe 6 inches of visibility. Buy prandin cod A strong surge made it seem like I was in a washing machine. Buy prandin cod I was disoriented and felt very uncomfortable, buy prandin cod so I went up to the boat and dropped my picking tool. Buy prandin cod The rest of the day was spent looking for my picking tool and prying urchins of the rocks with adiving knife. Buy prandin cod Most of the time I was wrapped up in kelp, buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod I was exhausted and discouraged. The next day I dove on another boat and did not fair much better. Buy prandin cod We were diving for Sea Agar, buy prandin cod a type of seaweed. Buy prandin cod We were diving right off the breakwater in very shallow water and with a very strong surge, buy prandin cod like a washing machine. Buy prandin cod Things were going along fine when I felt a tug on my mask and noticed somehowfishing line had looped around my mask, buy prandin cod you know the clear monofilament. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod I knew if I panicked I was dead. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod He was laid back without a clue. Buy prandin cod Needless to say that was his last trip. Buy prandin cod I worked all day and picked 2 hundred pounds that day and made 20 dollars. Buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod The best day I had, buy prandin cod many years later, buy prandin cod was at San Nicholas Island and I brought up 2, buy prandin cod998 lbs of urchins. Buy prandin cod We hit what was called a blackout. Buy prandin cod But that pales in comparison to my good friend and mentor who is stilldiving and fishing in Alaska. Buy prandin cod He once dove 5000 pounds a day for 3 days. If I had not met Mark I would have never dove. Buy prandin cod 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, buy prandin cod Santa Cruz Island, buy prandin cod Santa Rosa Island, buy prandin codAnd San Miguel. But under the water was always best.. We encountered every type of sea creature almost everyday. Buy prandin cod They claim the the sheepshead fish eats urchins and I once swam with them in caves off San miguel Island. Buy prandin cod They were twice the size of me!! A Click here: Sea Elephant swam straight toward me once at San Nicholas Island, buy prandin cod 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. Buy prandin cod All the fish love urchins and when you accidentally break one open the fish swarm like crazy. Buy prandin cod As vicious as the eels look, buy prandin cod these morey eels are rather friendly , buy prandin cod but don't stick your hand in some dark hole!! My best friends under water were the seals . Buy prandin cod They are like playful little dogs. Buy prandin cod Some of them liked to pull stunts like pulling on the dive hoses or trying to untie your bag full of urchins. Buy prandin cod They would swim straight at you then veer off a second before they hit you. Buy prandin cod Sometimes they would blow bubbles in our face as if mimicking us. Buy prandin cod This seal looks friendly enough. Buy prandin cod By the way Ever seen an underwater bug? The first day that I actually dove was a little rough. Buy prandin cod I went under the boat with shark attack Jack and swam around with one of the divers at a depth of around 35 feet. Buy prandin cod It was great.  The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.squidoo.com/Pugs1