Diving on Stellwagen
December 4, 2012
Diver Heather Knowles, a guest poster on the website New England Ocean Odyssey, describes her experiences diving on Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Massachusetts:
I usually tell people that diving at Stellwagen is unlike diving inshore—in the accessible coastal areas most typically visited by divers. There’s an amazing abundance and diversity of marine life that you don’t see in the coastal waters. For example, sometimes there are so many longhorn sculpin blanketing the bottom that you need to look before putting your hand down to avoid their sharp spines. There are ocean pout, wolffish, sponges and anemones, lobster, cod, and even an occasional school of tuna fish—all of which can be seen on a “typical” dive. The bright sand bottom affords good visibility with lots of ambient light
Although the marine life is spectacular, we’re often heading to the sanctuary to dive shipwrecks. Shipwrecks are time capsules at the mercy of the ocean environment. Unfortunately, this means they will ultimately be consumed—if not completely, then so much so that the wreck might eventually be unrecognizable. One such wreck that fascinates me is the potential Pentagoet, a steam freighter lost with all hands in the same 1898 storm as the SS Portland. This wreck is almost completely buried in the sand, resting in 170 feet of water. We often get only one opportunity to visit this wreck each year—it’s a long ride out there, and the current is ferocious with a short, unstable slow water period—so, why do we go? The answer is simple—because it’s exciting, interesting, and one day we might observe and document a clue that explains everything about the ship and its demise.
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