Solo diving is probably the most frowned upon activity in scuba diving after disrespectful behaviour towards marine life. The importance of “buddy” was emphasized throughout the certification courses and now PADI have included additional confined and open water skills to improve students ability to stay close to their buddy.
First time I dove in New England with the dive shop, the dive master did not assign any buddies and nobody seemed to care about that, I was confused. Then many times I saw divers doing it alone, mostly lobstering, “stupid of them!” I was thinking. However, this year, after getting my camera, I often I found myself solo-diving, practically, because I would loose my buddies due to low visibility or concentrating on a rock way too long to keep track of the people passing by. I would hate that happening because the rest of the dive would be looking for the buddies, surfacing and locating them, etc. Waste of perfectly good dive time.
The solo-diving has never been a plan for me, I never thought I would want to or need to. But this week, due to exceptionally good weather and no available buddies I decided to go myself, with a friend at the shore keeping an eye on me. (I will be getting lectures about this latest tomorrow, I know). I am not a carefree person, or adrenaline junky. I needed to dive and I chose a safe site and took some precautions in case something happens. Now that I managed to survive it it is not going to be a norm for me. I enjoy diving with people and showing and sharing.
I chose Niles Beach because it is the most protected and shallow beach around. And we had a tip for almost hatching skate eggs there. So, with a journalist attitude I went in to find and hopefully record some skate eggs hatching. Even though on the day of the dive I got to learn that the visibility in Canoe Beach in Nahant was ~30 ft I resisted the urge to go dive there since it was a new site for me, it wouldn’t be safe for solo-diving.
I was under for 41 mins with max depth 16 ft, bottom temperature 42F. I was still quite uncomfortable with my drysuit, which made me a little tired, so decided to keep the dive short.
Niles Beach provide a very colorful dive. Beyond the sandy region, the eel grass and the pebbles provide a variety of colors with great contrast. I had a feeling that if I could just sit at one site and look around I would be able to find many creatures hiding in the background, especially those little sculpins. (I couldn’t do that due to buoyancy issues I still have with my drysuit, need more practice )
At the beginning of the dive I could find a few little sculpins/grubbies. I really love the golden dust on their fins. There were also many hermit crabs running around. I also noticed there were sea vases everywhere, which I didn’t expect to see them here, I usually see them on rocky surfaces. But here I found them even coming out of dead sea shells.
There were, indeed, many skate eggs, most of them became translucent, I could see the baby inside but no movement. So I am guessing some more time is needed for them to hatch :(.
High point of the dive, which was at the very beginning of the dive, was the Asian shore crab I saw. This is an invasive species introduced to our waters from Western Pacific shores in late 80s. It is an aggressive omnivorous crab which may outcompete the locals also a danger for the commercially important species. I saw this crab 5 times this year and the species was new to all my dive buddies. I hope that does not mean that this species is populating the area.
I often don’t know what to do when I see this crab, I should maybe take it, but I cannot get myself to do it. Especially because of the way it looks and smiles back at me :). It is the cutest kind of crab I’ve ever seen. It looks so friendly that whole crab population should pick this one as their public relations face 🙂
More info on this species: