Frozen dog shit, mud & Peirce Island nudibranchs

The weather in Boston this weekend rivaled the arctic with air temperatures of -9F (-22C) and with strong winds making it feel closer to almost -20F (-28C!).   Not a great weekend for diving as you might imagine but few of us decided to brave it anyway and go diving on Monday (President’s Day) since it was holiday.  Unfortunately the air temperature on Monday wasn’t that much better than Saturday or Sunday; It was around 14F (-10c) when we entered the water if I remember but I think it finally did make it into the 20s when we finished our dive.

We ended up back at Peirce Island again since the nudibranch life this winter has been fantastic (as usual) and it’s location makes it extremely less likely to be blown out.  Due to the tide schedule this weekend we planned it for low tide slack.    Like most of my previous experiences, low tide slack up there is always a crap shoot although you have a slightly better chance of getting greater visibility in the winter.  My “prediction” truly did not disappoint and we were greeted with less than 5ft (1.5m) of beautiful backscatter-creating visibility  Actually perfectly fine for photographing macro subjects but not so great for keeping track of buddies.  Luckily everyone in this group was experienced enough not to care.

Believe it or not there are some positives to gearing up in subarctic temperatures.   The mud pit that is usually the parking lot of Peirce Island is completely solid and frozen over which makes standing in mud less of a problem.  Even more amazing, dodging the mine field of dog shit becomes less of an issue.  All kidding aside, you really want to gear up quickly in these cold temperatures.

No major issues to report and surprisingly no free-flowing regulators.  One diver did have a frozen inflator that he managed to “thaw out” once he got into the ocean.  The spit used in my mask iced over requiring me to rinse again

Less than a week ago I was reading water temperatures of 40-41F (5c) degrees however on this day the water felt much colder and I realized why a bit later.. My Shearwater confirmed my suspicion and throughout the dive I was reading water temperatures of 34F-36F (1-2.2c).  The freezing cold water was compounded by the fact that I felt like I was experiencing a slight leak in my drysuit.  You truly know it’s cold when you can’t tell if you’re dry or wet inside a drysuit. Often times I’ve come out of the water expecting to have flooded only to find myself bone dry but this was not one of those moments.  The one downside to two-piece Fourth Element Arctic undergarments is that they will sometimes ride up on me exposing parts of my back or stomach making me think I’ve flooded my suit    Unfortunately upon exit my suspicious were confirmed, I had a slight leak in my neck seal (must have rolled or pinched a bit of undergarment). It was pretty obvious where the leak was coming from once I took off my undergarments and inspected my base layer.  It really wasn’t a massive leak but I can’t help to think I would have been definitely warmer without 34F water slowy seeping into my drysuit.

I was happy to finally start seeing lots more clusters of nudibranch eggs compared to my last 3 previous dives up here although I didn’t get any great photos. I also managed to see 3 bushy backed (dendronotus frondosus) nudibranchs.   The visibility was poor and the majority of my photos had far too much backscatter and particles to be worth editing.  Otherwise a great dive, lots of flabellina “verrilli”, some flabellina verrucosa and a few dendronotus frondosus.

Max depth: 68ft (20m)
Runtime: 44 minutes.
Air Temp: 14F (-10c)
Water Temp; 34-36f (1c-2.2c)
Visibility: < 5ft



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