Vitaliq In Canada

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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, vitaliq in canada I began the greatest adventure of my life. Vitaliq in canada For four years I dove Click here: Sea Urchins off the California Coast. Vitaliq in canada I had fished commercially for 3 years prior to that time on the east coast. Vitaliq in canada I started out fishing from Gloucester, vitaliq in canada MA I began fishing Sea scallops on scallop Dredge boats as first a hookup man then a winchman for 3 years. Vitaliq in canada We fished mainly Georges Banks and sometimes the Phebbenes. You may have heard of Georges Banks from the movie, vitaliq in canada Perfect Storm? Three years and they were mostly years fishing scallops but I also fished on longline boats, vitaliq in canada drag boats for shrimp and fluke, vitaliq in canada (types of bottom fish similar to flounder)and black cod in Alaska. Vitaliq in canada But that is another story. Urchins are considered a delicacy in Japan and are also eaten in other parts of the world. Vitaliq in canada An urchin has 6 rows of eggs called uni in Japanese. Vitaliq in canada They are invertabraes, vitaliq in canada covered in spines and cling to the bottom of the ocean floor. Vitaliq in canada They eat kelp. Vitaliq in canada Urchins vary in weight and size. Vitaliq in canada California urchins probably ranged between 1/4 pound to 1 and 1/2 pounds. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada Divers used what is called a hookah rig or hose which was usually 300 feet long or more. Vitaliq in canada A compressor on the boat supplied the compressed air and through the hose or hookah, vitaliq in canada the same principles of physics applied as if you were diving with bottles. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada Kelp is a very big industry and harvested for many uses. There are a couple types of tools used to pick urchins. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada Invariably everyone was spined now and then primarily in the knees, vitaliq in canada when starting out. Vitaliq in canada I once drove a spine under my thumbnail to the bottom. Vitaliq in canada It did not start to hurt until I came up from under the pressure. Vitaliq in canada At 60 feet you are under a great deal of pressure and you have 3 lungfuls of pressurised air in your lungs, vitaliq in canada which means if you surface quickly and hold your breath, vitaliq in canada your lungs will explode in a very short period of time. Vitaliq in canada We usually dove under 100 feet and tried to follow the dive tables by at least, vitaliq in canada starting out deep, vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada An inner tube was used as a float bag and these bags could have anywhere between 200 to 500 hundred pounds in them. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada Once at San Nicholas Island I picked one bag of sea urchins that weighed 998 lbs. Vitaliq in canada when it hit the dock. Vitaliq in canada It took 2 float bags to get it to the surface. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada The coast, vitaliq in canada however, vitaliq in canada was usually murky. Vitaliq in canada The many varied types of aquatic life is undescribable. My first day of diving urchins went some thing like this. Vitaliq in canada I dove to about 35 or 40 feet and there was maybe 6 inches of visibility. Vitaliq in canada A strong surge made it seem like I was in a washing machine. Vitaliq in canada I was disoriented and felt very uncomfortable, vitaliq in canada so I went up to the boat and dropped my picking tool. Vitaliq in canada The rest of the day was spent looking for my picking tool and prying urchins of the rocks with adiving knife. Vitaliq in canada Most of the time I was wrapped up in kelp, vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada I was exhausted and discouraged. The next day I dove on another boat and did not fair much better. Vitaliq in canada We were diving for Sea Agar, vitaliq in canada a type of seaweed. Vitaliq in canada We were diving right off the breakwater in very shallow water and with a very strong surge, vitaliq in canada like a washing machine. Vitaliq in canada Things were going along fine when I felt a tug on my mask and noticed somehowfishing line had looped around my mask, vitaliq in canada you know the clear monofilament. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada I knew if I panicked I was dead. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada He was laid back without a clue. Vitaliq in canada Needless to say that was his last trip. Vitaliq in canada I worked all day and picked 2 hundred pounds that day and made 20 dollars. Vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada The best day I had, vitaliq in canada many years later, vitaliq in canada was at San Nicholas Island and I brought up 2, vitaliq in canada998 lbs of urchins. Vitaliq in canada We hit what was called a blackout. Vitaliq in canada But that pales in comparison to my good friend and mentor who is stilldiving and fishing in Alaska. Vitaliq in canada He once dove 5000 pounds a day for 3 days. If I had not met Mark I would have never dove. Vitaliq in canada 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, vitaliq in canada Santa Cruz Island, vitaliq in canada Santa Rosa Island, vitaliq in canadaAnd San Miguel. But under the water was always best.. We encountered every type of sea creature almost everyday. Vitaliq in canada They claim the the sheepshead fish eats urchins and I once swam with them in caves off San miguel Island. Vitaliq in canada They were twice the size of me!! A Click here: Sea Elephant swam straight toward me once at San Nicholas Island, vitaliq in canada 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. Vitaliq in canada All the fish love urchins and when you accidentally break one open the fish swarm like crazy. Vitaliq in canada As vicious as the eels look, vitaliq in canada these morey eels are rather friendly , vitaliq in canada but don't stick your hand in some dark hole!! My best friends under water were the seals . Vitaliq in canada They are like playful little dogs. Vitaliq in canada Some of them liked to pull stunts like pulling on the dive hoses or trying to untie your bag full of urchins. Vitaliq in canada They would swim straight at you then veer off a second before they hit you. Vitaliq in canada Sometimes they would blow bubbles in our face as if mimicking us. Vitaliq in canada This seal looks friendly enough. Vitaliq in canada By the way Ever seen an underwater bug? The first day that I actually dove was a little rough. Vitaliq in canada I went under the boat with shark attack Jack and swam around with one of the divers at a depth of around 35 feet. Vitaliq in canada It was great.  The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.squidoo.com/Pugs1