Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ponoquogue, rays and concrete

That damn old bridge is still one of Long Island's best and most popular dive sites. Why? Very simply it offers clean refreshing ocean water, various structure and bottom types and all kinds of marine life. A friend and I dropped in at slack tide today for a relaxing dive out to the pipe fields. He is new to the area so I figured I'd show him the bridge in little, digestible pieces. We dropped in on the North side of the channel and scanned the first wall under the bridge for lobsters. Then headed for a few concrete pipes that are right at the start of the dive. One nice lobster but I just couldn'r reach him. He chose his home well.
As we headed south under the old bridge we found ourselves smack in the middle of a spider crab orgy. I don't think I have ever seen so many crabs in one spot. They were stacked three and four deep and snapping at us and some were hangiing onto my loose tether lines. Really enjoyed the scene but out to the channel we headed.
At the end of the bridge we were hit with that familar clear cool rush of fresh sea water. I love the taste , smell and soothing comfort it brings when you first hit it. To me it has always felt like a gift as it revitalizes and rekindles my enthusiasm. A few quick kicks and we hit the pipe field which is called so because it is a line of concrete pipe that heads straight North and South across the channel. Lobsters sit inside and under the pipes and Fluke and Blackfish are in abundance on either side of them. My friend was really enjoying the visisbility and abundance of marine life as we swam along the pipeline.
We came to the end of the pipeline and hit the large debris field that is made up of lost parts of the old bridge after it's demolition. Plenty of holes and I showed my buddy where to look for lobsters. He reached in one of them and caught his first lobster. Although it was a bit small and he released it, he still enjoyed the thrill. We dropped into the deep hole approaching the South side of the channel and a really nice Fluke flushed and started swimming down the slope. I fired and struck the Fluke solidly but the tip of my spear did not penetrate completely and the fish got of the spear and started a slow decent into the deeper part of the hole. My young buddy being only 25 years old decide to give chase. I waited about a minute for him to return and then went looking for him in the direction he swam. There he was 50 feet away with Fluke in hand and already on his stringer. I felt a high-five was in order.
The current had begun to change so I decided it was time to head back. I saw something very strange. It was a razor whip shaped eel or something. Then I realized it was the 7' long tale of a Southern stingray. We watched as it gracefully swam the bottom in front of us. It was very cool and I had started to wish I had brought the camera. On our way back we spotted two more rays as we kicked aside the ever stronger out-going current.
For me it was a good dive and I was glad to have seen the rays. For my friend who is a new diver, I think he was amazed to see all the great things along the short path we took today. He caught his first lobster and speared his first Fluke. I also showed him how to fillet it and gave him a few of my favorite recipes. So, in a way, I got to see all those things for the first time again. And I got excited about it. I think the guy is just gonna flip out when I show him the debris around the new bridge but that will be another story.
The Ponoquogue bridge is always a great dive because like most Northeast shore dives it is never the same. Tide after tide it changes like a calidiscope at sunrise.I one weeks time something completely different will be going on there. The rays will have left, the snappers will be larger and maybe the big bass will start moving again. It won't hold still for you. See it now or loose it forever.

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