Rockaway on diving

There's nothing like a break in the schedule to enjoy diving
what most may call truly exotic waters: New York City's.
Believe it or not, their bustle rivals Gotham's. Just beyond
JFK Airport's runways, a beach between 8th and 9th
streets in Far Rockaway, Queens, rocks with life. Over
rocky terrain where sea plants and sponges battle for
space, crabs and fish hustle about, while humans above
try to invite them home for dinner. Or maybe just inspire
some hapless fish to nibble on a hook, fight for its life to
be released upon landing. "Catch and Release" the eco
zealots call it. "Torture and Maim" is what this predator
calls it. When fighting fish wrap lines around obstructions,
where they congregate naturally, we lose bottom tackle.
They lose their lives. And the hooks keep catching and
killing fish for years. After seeing a fish that lost, I espied
a jiggle in a snarl of fishing line. A horseshoe crab was
getting more deeply entrapped with its every attempt to
get free. After a few snips of line with surgical scissors it
was off and running. Pausing to say "thanks" didn't occur
to its panicked pre-dinosaur-model brain. That's OK. A
dive later off Caumsette Point, near singer Billy Joel's
Long Island home, it was fun watching horseshoe crabs
get together and wonder how the little escapee was faring.
While humans might think that a beach along pricey real
estate would be more thriving than a blue-collar beach in
Queens, lobsters weren't buying it. Barbara and I saw a
half-dozen bugs off Beach 8th Street, nearly double the
number we saw off Caumsette. Alas none of the bugs we
could reach was legal, so we brought home rubber-
banded lobsters of shame from Jordan's Lobster Farm
after both dives. We did stretch the "catch" as always by
making broth from the shells that flavored gallons of
chowder, made richer with fresh veggies from the weekly
farmer's market at Brooklyn Boro Hall. Fruits of harvests
from truck farms far from the city surely uplift the spirits
and taste buds of this transplanted Midwesterner. While I
do get a bounty of tomatoes, peppers, hops and other
items from my garden, its 8- by 10-foot size doesn't lend
itself to peach trees, sweet corn, squash and like items
that require square yards of space to produce well. During
the surface interval between dives we caught a recital of
dancers by students of Barbara's teacher at a local Middle
Eastern restaurant. "Belly dancing" is undeniably sensual,
but there's more to it than that. It's a darned good way to
exercise muscles most of us never knew we had, and it
beats the heck out of calisthenics. All these ideas of
exercise and especially water totally are lost on cats. Inari
did deign to inspect the drying of dive gear operation, but
largely as an excuse to poke holes in buoyancy vests. My
Cale and Schmutz were a lot more relaxed about all of
this, simply curling up together and sleeping off their
master's penchant for madness. There's food in the bowl.
Water too. Sand in the box. Life is good.  
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Bob Sterner
photos © 2008
BobBug_BKrooss Photo
B'ly Mart _ BKrooss
Season's Feastin'
Caumsette Point, LI
Inari Inspects Dive Gear
Cale-n-Schmutz. Purrr