24 AugArtificial Reefs - New Jersey, Beneath the Garden State: Exploring Aquatic New Jersey, Beth Dalzell, Black Sea Bass, Blue Mussels, Cunner, Ed Camper, Family, Fish, Forbes Sea Star, Forbes Sea Star, Friends, Frilled Anemones, G.A. Venturo Tug, Henry Family, Herb Segars, Inon, Inon Z240, Invertebrates, Metridium senile, Nauticam, New Jersey, northern stony coral, Olympus 9-18mm Lens, Olympus OM D-EM1, People, Photography, SCUBA Diving, Sea Girt Artificial Reef, Sea Star, Sea Stars, Summer Founder - Fluke, Tautog, Underwater Photography / Scuba Diving, Veronica Segars, Wes Dalzell | No Comment
On Saturday, August 20, 2016, Wes and Beth Dalzell, Ed Kempar and Ronnie and I headed out of Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey for a day of scuba diving in the Atlantic Ocean. Our destination was the Northeast Sailor. Seas were flat and winds were light. It was weird to have flat seas with winds from an easterly direction. Typically off New Jersey, east winds bring lumpy seas. Whatever the reason, I was happy to be on the ocean. It had been a number of weeks since were had been out. Our destination is not far from the Sea Girt Artificial Reef and we could see plenty of boats in that area. We arrived at our destination to find no other vessels there. We got a marker buoy in the water and attempted to grapple the wreck. After three long unsuccessful tries, we decided to go somewhere else. Since we were so close to the Sea Girt Artificial Reef, we picked the closest prospect that looked good to us with a few backups in case the spot was occupied. Our first choice was the G.A. Venturo tugboat. There was no one on it so we dropped our marker buoy and dropped our grapple hook. We were in the first try. Hooray!
Beth and I went in first. Getting suited up in drysuits in 90 degree weather was brutal. We hoped that the waters of the Atlantic would cool us off. We were mistaken. The water at the surface was around 82° F and down at 30’, it was still in the 70° range. The bottom was very different at 54°. It was chilly.
The visibility wasn’t so hot. We had around 10’. We were hoping that we could get some mussels so Beth brought her mesh bag and a lift bag to bring them back to the surface.
After we checked that the grapple was secure, Beth went about harvesting mussels and attached her mesh bag and lift bag to the anchor line while we both headed off to take photos. I was shooting wide angle and was disappointed with the visibility. I had the same kind of visibility the last time we were out. I spoke to my friend Dan Lieb who works at Divers Two in Avon, New Jersey and he said that reports were of 25’-40’ on sites between six and nine miles offshore. We were not out quite that far so I suppose that it’s my own fault. I tried to make the best of it.
The hawser on the rear deck was covered with blue mussels, barnacles, northern stony coral and frilled sea anemones. Fish life consisted mostly of cunners (bergalls), black sea bass and blackfish (tautog). Beth did spot a fluke on the bottom but didn’t get a photo as it exploded off the bottom in front of her. They camouflage themselves so well that they are easy to miss.
You don’t have to look hard to see the amazing amount of growth on this artificial reef. This is the main reason that they were put in place. To be a substrate for animals to grow on and protection for smaller marine life from larger predators.
One thing that really surprised me is that the pilot house isn’t there anymore. I dove it a few years ago and remember going inside the pilot house and shooting photos of Beth through the openings where windows once were. I wonder if one too many grappling hooks or the corrosive effects of salt water did it in.
Last year, I did not see a jellyfish all season and on my previous dives this season, I didn’t see any. On this day, I saw many comb jellies near the surface. On Sunday while out fishing, we noticed huge clouds of comb jellies on the surface. I am wondering if the water is so warm that they are dying. I don’t know for sure but I guess the next few visits to the ocean will tell.
We finished our dive and made our way to the surface to separate the mussels. It took three of us about twenty minutes to complete our task. After we separate the mussels, we divide them into two mesh bags and drag the bags behind the boat all the way to Manasquan Inlet. Beth and Wes took some, Ed brought some home and so did Ronnie and me. I don’t eat mussels so we decided to save ours for Ronnie’s brother and his wife, Matt and Felice Henry who were joining us the next day to go fishing. They were thrilled to see the mussels and even more thrilled to eat them. My brother-in-law, Matt Henry took the photos below. Here is a view of their treats:
Well, that’s all for today. We are looking to get more diving in before the season ends. I can only hope that I will find that good visibility soon!