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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, protonix free sample I began the greatest adventure of my life. Protonix free sample For four years I dove Click here: Sea Urchins off the California Coast. Protonix free sample I had fished commercially for 3 years prior to that time on the east coast. Protonix free sample I started out fishing from Gloucester, protonix free sample MA I began fishing Sea scallops on scallop Dredge boats as first a hookup man then a winchman for 3 years. Protonix free sample We fished mainly Georges Banks and sometimes the Phebbenes. You may have heard of Georges Banks from the movie, protonix free sample Perfect Storm? Three years and they were mostly years fishing scallops but I also fished on longline boats, protonix free sample drag boats for shrimp and fluke, protonix free sample (types of bottom fish similar to flounder)and black cod in Alaska. Protonix free sample But that is another story. Urchins are considered a delicacy in Japan and are also eaten in other parts of the world. Protonix free sample An urchin has 6 rows of eggs called uni in Japanese. Protonix free sample They are invertabraes, protonix free sample covered in spines and cling to the bottom of the ocean floor. Protonix free sample They eat kelp. Protonix free sample Urchins vary in weight and size. Protonix free sample California urchins probably ranged between 1/4 pound to 1 and 1/2 pounds. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample Divers used what is called a hookah rig or hose which was usually 300 feet long or more. Protonix free sample A compressor on the boat supplied the compressed air and through the hose or hookah, protonix free sample the same principles of physics applied as if you were diving with bottles. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample Kelp is a very big industry and harvested for many uses. There are a couple types of tools used to pick urchins. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample Invariably everyone was spined now and then primarily in the knees, protonix free sample when starting out. Protonix free sample I once drove a spine under my thumbnail to the bottom. Protonix free sample It did not start to hurt until I came up from under the pressure. Protonix free sample At 60 feet you are under a great deal of pressure and you have 3 lungfuls of pressurised air in your lungs, protonix free sample which means if you surface quickly and hold your breath, protonix free sample your lungs will explode in a very short period of time. Protonix free sample We usually dove under 100 feet and tried to follow the dive tables by at least, protonix free sample starting out deep, protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample An inner tube was used as a float bag and these bags could have anywhere between 200 to 500 hundred pounds in them. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample Once at San Nicholas Island I picked one bag of sea urchins that weighed 998 lbs. Protonix free sample when it hit the dock. Protonix free sample It took 2 float bags to get it to the surface. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample The coast, protonix free sample however, protonix free sample was usually murky. Protonix free sample The many varied types of aquatic life is undescribable. My first day of diving urchins went some thing like this. Protonix free sample I dove to about 35 or 40 feet and there was maybe 6 inches of visibility. Protonix free sample A strong surge made it seem like I was in a washing machine. Protonix free sample I was disoriented and felt very uncomfortable, protonix free sample so I went up to the boat and dropped my picking tool. Protonix free sample The rest of the day was spent looking for my picking tool and prying urchins of the rocks with adiving knife. Protonix free sample Most of the time I was wrapped up in kelp, protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample I was exhausted and discouraged. The next day I dove on another boat and did not fair much better. Protonix free sample We were diving for Sea Agar, protonix free sample a type of seaweed. Protonix free sample We were diving right off the breakwater in very shallow water and with a very strong surge, protonix free sample like a washing machine. Protonix free sample Things were going along fine when I felt a tug on my mask and noticed somehowfishing line had looped around my mask, protonix free sample you know the clear monofilament. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample I knew if I panicked I was dead. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample He was laid back without a clue. Protonix free sample Needless to say that was his last trip. Protonix free sample I worked all day and picked 2 hundred pounds that day and made 20 dollars. Protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample The best day I had, protonix free sample many years later, protonix free sample was at San Nicholas Island and I brought up 2, protonix free sample998 lbs of urchins. Protonix free sample We hit what was called a blackout. Protonix free sample But that pales in comparison to my good friend and mentor who is stilldiving and fishing in Alaska. Protonix free sample He once dove 5000 pounds a day for 3 days. If I had not met Mark I would have never dove. Protonix free sample 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, protonix free sample Santa Cruz Island, protonix free sample Santa Rosa Island, protonix free sampleAnd San Miguel. But under the water was always best.. We encountered every type of sea creature almost everyday. Protonix free sample They claim the the sheepshead fish eats urchins and I once swam with them in caves off San miguel Island. Protonix free sample They were twice the size of me!! A Click here: Sea Elephant swam straight toward me once at San Nicholas Island, protonix free sample 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. Protonix free sample All the fish love urchins and when you accidentally break one open the fish swarm like crazy. Protonix free sample As vicious as the eels look, protonix free sample these morey eels are rather friendly , protonix free sample but don't stick your hand in some dark hole!! My best friends under water were the seals . Protonix free sample They are like playful little dogs. Protonix free sample Some of them liked to pull stunts like pulling on the dive hoses or trying to untie your bag full of urchins. Protonix free sample They would swim straight at you then veer off a second before they hit you. Protonix free sample Sometimes they would blow bubbles in our face as if mimicking us. Protonix free sample This seal looks friendly enough. Protonix free sample By the way Ever seen an underwater bug? The first day that I actually dove was a little rough. Protonix free sample I went under the boat with shark attack Jack and swam around with one of the divers at a depth of around 35 feet. Protonix free sample It was great.  The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.squidoo.com/Pugs1