Diving For "Homarus Americanus"
(New England Lobsters)


Massachusetts has always allowed scuba divers to take lobster from the sea, so many of us from Maine would go to Massachusetts to dive for lobsters.  In Maine, you see, the lobstermen were dead set against anyone taking lobsters by any means except the traditional lobster "pots".  It was easy to imagine a scuba diver who was accidentally run over by a lobsterman while diving among lobster grounds.

Well, one of the best areas and times to get lobster in Massachusetts was in May, when the lobsters were emerging from a cold winter and hungry to stock up for the coming shedding season.  In Provincetown, on the end of Cape Cod, the ocean bottom is all sand, and slopes gradually down from the shore to hundreds of dark, cold feet below the surface. 

The idea in this method of lobster diving is to get up before sunrise, and be ready to go into the water just at dawn.  You are not allowed to take lobsters before dawn or after dusk.  Lobsters feed at night on the marine life that is on the sandy bottom particularly up nearer the surface.  The lobsters do this at night to avoid predators such as other lobsters, seals or sea lions.

So you are on the sandy bottom of the coast of Cape Cod in mid May in about 35-40 feet of water and you can just see due to the coming of dawn.  Suddenly you see the bottom is populated by many large lobsters, moving slowly back down to the deep, cold, dark water after a night of feeding to await the next night.  Your goal is to intercept them on the way back to the deep and pick up your selection.  On this day in May of 1978, I saw what appeared to be the largest lobster I had ever seen in its natural environment.  I moved in to grasp it on its carapace (upper body) and found that it knew I was there and immediately reared up with both claws waving!  Its claws were the originals and were huge.  Lobsters will drop an injured limb and grow another, but never as big as the original.

I moved around this lobster and he followed my every movement.  Finally I was able to get two hands around his carapace by distracting him with my light.  It was a battle to keep hold of the lobster and open a catch bag at the same time.  After a 10 minute struggle, I finally got the lobster into the bag and found that I was nearly out of air after such a fight.  I returned to the surface and proudly displayed the one that didn't get away.  This lobster fed 6 people for two meals and weighed over 16 lbs.  I cleaned and kept the claws as souvenirs of the best lobster dive I ever made.