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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, no rx nizoral I began the greatest adventure of my life. No rx nizoral For four years I dove Click here: Sea Urchins off the California Coast. No rx nizoral I had fished commercially for 3 years prior to that time on the east coast. No rx nizoral I started out fishing from Gloucester, no rx nizoral MA I began fishing Sea scallops on scallop Dredge boats as first a hookup man then a winchman for 3 years. No rx nizoral We fished mainly Georges Banks and sometimes the Phebbenes. You may have heard of Georges Banks from the movie, no rx nizoral Perfect Storm? Three years and they were mostly years fishing scallops but I also fished on longline boats, no rx nizoral drag boats for shrimp and fluke, no rx nizoral (types of bottom fish similar to flounder)and black cod in Alaska. No rx nizoral But that is another story. Urchins are considered a delicacy in Japan and are also eaten in other parts of the world. No rx nizoral An urchin has 6 rows of eggs called uni in Japanese. No rx nizoral They are invertabraes, no rx nizoral covered in spines and cling to the bottom of the ocean floor. No rx nizoral They eat kelp. No rx nizoral Urchins vary in weight and size. No rx nizoral California urchins probably ranged between 1/4 pound to 1 and 1/2 pounds. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral Divers used what is called a hookah rig or hose which was usually 300 feet long or more. No rx nizoral A compressor on the boat supplied the compressed air and through the hose or hookah, no rx nizoral the same principles of physics applied as if you were diving with bottles. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral Kelp is a very big industry and harvested for many uses. There are a couple types of tools used to pick urchins. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral Invariably everyone was spined now and then primarily in the knees, no rx nizoral when starting out. No rx nizoral I once drove a spine under my thumbnail to the bottom. No rx nizoral It did not start to hurt until I came up from under the pressure. No rx nizoral At 60 feet you are under a great deal of pressure and you have 3 lungfuls of pressurised air in your lungs, no rx nizoral which means if you surface quickly and hold your breath, no rx nizoral your lungs will explode in a very short period of time. No rx nizoral We usually dove under 100 feet and tried to follow the dive tables by at least, no rx nizoral starting out deep, no rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral An inner tube was used as a float bag and these bags could have anywhere between 200 to 500 hundred pounds in them. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral Once at San Nicholas Island I picked one bag of sea urchins that weighed 998 lbs. No rx nizoral when it hit the dock. No rx nizoral It took 2 float bags to get it to the surface. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral The coast, no rx nizoral however, no rx nizoral was usually murky. No rx nizoral The many varied types of aquatic life is undescribable. My first day of diving urchins went some thing like this. No rx nizoral I dove to about 35 or 40 feet and there was maybe 6 inches of visibility. No rx nizoral A strong surge made it seem like I was in a washing machine. No rx nizoral I was disoriented and felt very uncomfortable, no rx nizoral so I went up to the boat and dropped my picking tool. No rx nizoral The rest of the day was spent looking for my picking tool and prying urchins of the rocks with adiving knife. No rx nizoral Most of the time I was wrapped up in kelp, no rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral I was exhausted and discouraged. The next day I dove on another boat and did not fair much better. No rx nizoral We were diving for Sea Agar, no rx nizoral a type of seaweed. No rx nizoral We were diving right off the breakwater in very shallow water and with a very strong surge, no rx nizoral like a washing machine. No rx nizoral Things were going along fine when I felt a tug on my mask and noticed somehowfishing line had looped around my mask, no rx nizoral you know the clear monofilament. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral I knew if I panicked I was dead. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral He was laid back without a clue. No rx nizoral Needless to say that was his last trip. No rx nizoral I worked all day and picked 2 hundred pounds that day and made 20 dollars. No rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral The best day I had, no rx nizoral many years later, no rx nizoral was at San Nicholas Island and I brought up 2, no rx nizoral998 lbs of urchins. No rx nizoral We hit what was called a blackout. No rx nizoral But that pales in comparison to my good friend and mentor who is stilldiving and fishing in Alaska. No rx nizoral He once dove 5000 pounds a day for 3 days. If I had not met Mark I would have never dove. No rx nizoral 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, no rx nizoral Santa Cruz Island, no rx nizoral Santa Rosa Island, no rx nizoralAnd San Miguel. But under the water was always best.. We encountered every type of sea creature almost everyday. No rx nizoral They claim the the sheepshead fish eats urchins and I once swam with them in caves off San miguel Island. No rx nizoral They were twice the size of me!! A Click here: Sea Elephant swam straight toward me once at San Nicholas Island, no rx nizoral 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. No rx nizoral All the fish love urchins and when you accidentally break one open the fish swarm like crazy. No rx nizoral As vicious as the eels look, no rx nizoral these morey eels are rather friendly , no rx nizoral but don't stick your hand in some dark hole!! My best friends under water were the seals . No rx nizoral They are like playful little dogs. No rx nizoral Some of them liked to pull stunts like pulling on the dive hoses or trying to untie your bag full of urchins. No rx nizoral They would swim straight at you then veer off a second before they hit you. No rx nizoral Sometimes they would blow bubbles in our face as if mimicking us. No rx nizoral This seal looks friendly enough. No rx nizoral By the way Ever seen an underwater bug? The first day that I actually dove was a little rough. No rx nizoral I went under the boat with shark attack Jack and swam around with one of the divers at a depth of around 35 feet. No rx nizoral It was great.  The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.squidoo.com/Pugs1