I spent the day with Vin Malkoski working with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Our goal was to find a spot that would be a good site for an artificial reef. An artificial reef is a bunch of large concrete that is molded into certain shapes that marine life can grow on, live in and hunt around. We were looking in the Cape Cod bay area at sites that had been previously selected, we were visiting them again to dive them and see what we could find for life. Mark Rousseau was one of the project leaders on the boat along with three other divers, Vin, and Yann Herrera Fuchs, the Rolex Our World Underwater Society Scholar, who was also working with Vin. We headed out into the bay, the day was nice and sunny and warm, good day for diving. The water was not very choppy but wasn’t perfectly calm either.
We reached our first site, half of us geared up to get in the water while the other half stayed on the boat to dive after us. A transect line had been laid down for us to follow and find our way around the proposed site. The first thing I noticed about the site was the abundance of sea robins. Quirky, odd, almost prehistoric reptile like fish, they have large pectoral fins that they spread out to swim away from something, when they’re not crawling through the sand with strange finger like appendages. I’ve always wanted to see a sea robin, and I wasn’t disappointed we saw quite a few sea robins about 10 or so total. Some would hide in the sand other would ran away from you and others would just sit in front of you. We also many spider crabs, a few lady crabs, and a patch of squid eggs. Squid eggs look like translucent torpedoes all huddled together on a rock. The site was really nice and might be a good spot for an artificial reef.
In between sites I had another bout of sea sickness, even with the fairly calm conditions that we had. Vin suggested I hang off the diver line off the back of the boat so I sat in the water for a few minutes and floated there. My sickness went away a little while after. We then geared up and dropped down to the next site. This site supposedly had a sunken plane so that was extra incentive to go looking around. We never found any plane but we found plenty of lobster. They sat in little burrows they had dug out in the sand. To me it seemed like a pretty bad home compared to the lobsters in Cape Ann that hid beneath rocks. Swimming along they would flare their claws and I could just grab them by the carapace and have a look at them. Vin picked up a huge egger female that was way over the legal limit but they’re still cool to look at. This site was a nice site as well but I believe the first site had more life that would benefit from an artificial reef, though those lobster could use a better home.
It was amazing to see a completely new ecosystem in New England waters so completely different than North in Gloucester and Rockport or South in Jamestown. Work that people like Vin and Mark do for the Division of Fisheries is essential to having a healthy ecosystem and maintaining fish stocks, and it’s pretty fun to dive different sites in New England and help the ecosystems we visit.