Eastport Blog #3: And with the nice weather, comes diving fun!

Senior Aquarist Paul Leonard normally spends his time at the Aquarium caring for penguins. Now, he's joining the Divers and Expeditions Blog from Eastport, Maine, where New England Aquarium scuba divers are plunging into freezing cold water and navigating extreme tidal currents in search of cold water specimens.

The last few days have been great! The weather finally died down and we’ve been able to have full, productive days of specimen collecting. Since we have to dive on the tidal changes, we’re limited to how many dives we can do each day. It’s a great plan since after each dive we’re required to have “out of the water time.” This insures that we don’t have any dive related injuries. Since we missed out on getting a lot of dives in the first day, there is a little pressure for us to be successful. Everyone has to chip in. Some of dives even take place late at night!

We have a wish list of specific animals and invertebrates that are needed for the Aquarium’s Northern Exhibits, like the Gulf of Maine Exhibit. The hardest part is that these animals are always moving. Over the decades, thanks to the observations of the dive teams, we’ve been able to compile a detailed catalog of where the animals should be. The exciting thing is that you don’t know what is exactly on the bottom until you get there.

After every dive the animals have to be sorted out and cataloged.

Our work always seems to make the locals a little curious and they stop by to see what’s going on.

A gray seal


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