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  • February 4, 2014

    Scallop Hunting Under The Eureka Oil Rig

    February 2, 2014*

    It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I have the same opportunity as I did last year – Go on the Pacific Star for two SCUBA dives under the oil rigs and be back by the game.

    This was suppose to be a divevets function, but I only knew a handful of people.

    Either I’m losing touch with the group, or there are a lot of new members recently.

    Just like last year, we had to go through an extensive background security check to be anywhere close to the oil rigs.

    The first dive I planned to collect some scallops for a Super Bowl party and test my camera housing for leaks – I replaced the gasket and re-greased the housing.

    I did take the housing on a test dive, but only to 40 feet – this is the ultimate test.

    Dive briefing

    We got a short briefing on the dives and dive procedures, including a bit about scallop gathering – “We are going to ask you to cut the meat out of the shell, don’t bring the whole thing up – you’ll have 50 unneeded pounds of shell with you.”

    San Pedro Light House
    The San Pedro Light House.

    Eureka Oil Rig
    The Eureka Oil Rig.

    After the short ride out, it was time to dive.

    The rigs are in 600 feet of water, so the boat has to drop and pickup without anchoring.

    I jumped over and swam underneath the rig before submerging.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #460

    Solo Diving/SoCal Buddy Diving

    Eureka Oil Rig
    Between Catalina and San Pedro, CA, USA

    In With: 2900 psi
    Out With: 500 psi
    Max depth: 101 feet
    Waves: Slightly choppy
    Visibility: 40 to 60 feet!
    Water Temperature: 59 degrees
    Air Temperature: 67 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 24 minutes

    The water was choppy, but as soon as I went under, it calmed down – visibility was excellent!

    I would say 50 to 60 feet of visibility – perfect for spotting scallops, that are literally all over the columns under the rig.

    I found a big ass scallop at 60 feet, took my knife out and jabbed it into the scallop to dig the meat out.

    The scallop closed, I twisted it, and my knife broke in half!

    Well shit!

    They asked me to cut the meat out before coming back to the boat – that’s like when the cops ask you if they can search your car.

    It’s not mandatory.

    OK, I might be a little heavy, but what they hell, I started prying the scallops off, whole, and putting them in my lobster bag.

    After 20 minutes, I had a heavy bag full of scallops.

    I reached the surface and gave the OK sign about 20 times to the Dive Master who was waving a hard hat at me – I found out later he was trying to return a hard hat that one of the workmen on the rig had dropped.

    The boat picked me up, and the Dive Master was not very happy to see whole scallops coming up on the boat – he sort of bitched me out.

    King of Scallops
    The King of Scallops

    Broken Dive Knife
    My broken dive knife.

    I checked my camera housing – and it didn’t leak!

    Stay tuned for the second dive post, with underwater pictures of the Ellen Oil Rig.

    *Posting has been delayed due to the Super Bowl, the Super Bowl Party and the needed recovery from the events.

    6 Comments »

    1. I feel your pain, J. I too have been yelled at by boat crews on several occasions. For underwater scallop hunting look into getting a frosting knife. They can be found in most specialty shops that sell cooking equipment. A frosting knife has a very thin bendable whip-like steel blade with a rounded point. The thin metal will slip easily between the scallop’s lips, and then with a twist of the wrist the bendable blade can be scraped along the scallop’s top shell to severe the muscle holding the two sides together. Once the muscle is cut the shell flops open, and the meat can be quickly extracted. So compared to your big expensive breakable dive knife used like a prying wedge, an inexpensive frosting knife is more like a fine flexible surgical instrument. With a little practice this stealthy technique can be quickly mastered, so you and your ladies can be enjoying the aphrodisiatic qualities of delicate scallop meat. Be warned, macho men may have difficulty dealing with the PETA-types that usually work in specialty cooking stores, so don’t expect a lot of help.

      Comment by Joe R — February 5, 2014 @ 7:23 am

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      Comment by Snorkel Trips in Maui — February 7, 2014 @ 2:52 am

    3. Very nice! That is the ultimate place for a scallop haul, deep clean water and away from the shore. I also like the fact that the boat encourages the taking of scallops, even though they were a little upset about bringing the whole shell back. Was this more about the safety involved with the potential of a heavy bag dragging divers down or damage to the structure?

      Comment by halibug — February 7, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    4. Hey Halibug, they say that leaving the shell behind is good for the continued sea growth on the oil rigs, the weight can be a safety hazard, and shelling them on board makes for a slimey deck. I brought them home to shell. PSD

      Comment by PsychoSoloDiver — February 9, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    5. When people decide to stop eating animals, they may leave some species on their plates because they believe that those animals don’t feel pain. It’s now generally accepted in the scientific community that mammals, birds, and fish have feelings, preferences, and the ability to sense pain. But what about shellfish?

      The term “shellfish” covers a wide range of invertebrate aquatic animals used by humans as food. The most frequently eaten shellfish are crustaceans (shrimps, lobsters, and crabs) and mollusks, a broad category that includes cephalopods (squids and octopuses) and bivalves (animals with hinged shells such as clams, oysters, and scallops).

      Cephalopods are considered among the most intelligent of the invertebrates. An octopus named Otto in a German aquarium passed the time by juggling the hermit crabs in his tank. He mystified the staff by causing frequent electrical outages until they finally caught him in the act of climbing up on the edge of his tank and firing a jet of water at the light fixture. Octopuses have even successfully navigated mazes. Squids and octopuses have very different physiology than mammals do, but they can play, learn, and think—and they don’t deserve to be served for dinner.

      Some people believe that shrimps, crabs, and lobsters—all of whom are more closely related to insects than to vertebrate animals—cannot feel pain at all. But recent scientific studies have shown that crustaceans have central nervous systems very much capable of generating the sensation of pain. Crustaceans release stress hormones (analogous to our adrenal hormones) in response to painful events. If you’ve ever seen a lobster or crab lowered into a pot of boiling water, you’ve seen these animals fight just as hard for their lives as any other animal would in the same situation. A lobster can’t scream, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel agony in the time it takes for him to boil to death. And crustaceans suffer in other ways—they are often transported alive to restaurants and grocery stores and crowded into tanks where they are so stressed that their claws must be banded shut to prevent them from attacking each other.

      Without obvious legs or faces, bivalves look less animal-like than other shellfish. But they’re capable of a surprising variety of behavior. Scallops can swim away from predators by “flapping” their shells. They can detect light and movement with small eyes that are located around the perimeter of their bodies. Clams can escape by burrowing through sand. Mussels are able to gradually move to a better home, reanchoring themselves in a new location. Oysters protect their soft bodies by snapping their shells tightly closed at the first hint of danger.

      As we learn more about the many animal species with whom we share this planet, we keep discovering that they are more intelligent, more feeling, and more empathetic than we had previously realized. The evidence for sentience in squids, octopuses, and crustaceans is increasingly clear. We don’t yet know whether oysters feel pain, but if they do, they represent a very large number of suffering animals—a single meal might require the deaths of 12 or more oysters. We don’t need to consume oysters, scallops, and clams to survive. Is the flavor of Oysters Rockefeller or New England Clam Chowder so important to us that we can’t give these animals the benefit of the doubt?

      Comment by Information To The Ignorant — February 13, 2014 @ 12:31 am

    6. On a recent dive we collected a limit of Scallops and as we were cutting them open we could hear them telling us to not miss any meat on the shell, they have lips and they were trembling as they said ‘ dont miss any meat.” On another dive we speared a few Sheephead and calicos, I hit one sheep and the spear ran from between the eyes down through the anus, what a well placed shot. I encourage all spearfishers to get clean shots through the brain so these fish do not experience the agony of a slow death. One time the Halibut we were filleting said, ‘hey,,, you missed some meat along the spine, do a better job on the filet,” you dont want to miss any meat. Call me ignorant or whatnot, but we kill to eat, sorry if that offends you. I pay my respects to the game I take and always say a prayer for the gifts I receive from the ocean.

      Comment by halibug — February 14, 2014 @ 10:36 am

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