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 first day of diving was interesting and short. We had to get an early start to the day. Up and down to the docks by sunrise.
Good morning, Canada… yup that's them across the water.
Once our holding pens were setup and all of the gear stowed, we made our way out for our first dive of the trip. We were psyched for about five minutes. The marine forecast called for 25-35 wind gusts and 4-6 foot waves. Everywhere you looked there were white caps. We had a following sea and boy…some of the rollers were intimidating! Our captains said that this was the most seas they’ve seen while crossing the bay. I looked around and noticed that there were no other boats out on the water. Hmmm???
Our skipper was pretty frosty as always and navigated the surf masterfully. It took us a little longer than usual but we reached our destination. What an awesome dive! We went down about 50 feet. Bottom temp was 53 degrees F and our visibility was about 10 feet. We saw Acadian hermit crabs, green sea urchins, sea peaches, coldwater soft corals, snails and one large sea raven.
Our voyage back to base camp was just as exciting. Unfortunately, our next dive was aborted because it was going to be at night and the weather was not going to quit. It would have been too dangerous to attempt any crossings at night.
Well, it will be an early evening and we'll do it all again tomorrow.
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Aquarium divers go on several daily dives to care for the animals in the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) as well as lead expeditions to the Bahamas.