This story was initially revealed in September 2019.
Lobsters, big fish, snapping turtles and sunken ships. Maine’s underwater world is crammed with wonders, based on those that snorkel.
A distinct segment exercise within the Northeast, snorkeling is pretty simple to be taught. The tools required — a masks, snorkel and fins — is cheap and low tech. And given the area’s quite a few lakes, rivers and ocean coves, there are a lot of locations to discover.
“It’s like going via the wanting glass into a very completely different world,” stated Justus Magee, 42, of Glenburn. “It’s completely fascinating.”
Looking for lake monsters
Maine is dwelling to hundreds of lakes and ponds, a lot of that are nice for snorkeling. These our bodies of water fluctuate dramatically of their geological options, in addition to what crops and aquatic animals they comprise.
“Each time I am going to a lake, even when with buddies, I at all times carry my swim fins and masks,” Magee stated. “I get made enjoyable of a bit.”
Snorkeling is an exercise wherein you swim on the floor of the water, respiratory via a tube known as a snorkel. One finish of the tube is positioned in your mouth, whereas the opposite finish is in the back of your head, above the floor of the water. This lets you breathe whereas swimming face down.
Sporting fins in your toes lets you swim sooner, and carrying a masks over your eyes and nostril lets you see clearly. It additionally prevents you from getting water up your nostril.
“It’s like a meditation as a result of a snorkel forces you to pay attention to your breath, “ Magee stated.
Whereas snorkeling in Maine lakes, Magee has swum beside a big bass. He’s discovered a Coca-Cola bottle from 1962. And he usually explores attention-grabbing rock formations, that are solely seen underwater.
“I believe one of the crucial attention-grabbing elements of snorkeling Maine lakes is you get to see all of the geological variations,” Magee stated. “Schoodic [Lake] is totally beautiful, the geology of it. You may really see all kinds of several types of petrified silt patterns.”
[Filmmaker dives to sunken steamboats in Moosehead Lake]
Nuggett Wagner, 64, of Ellsworth, additionally enjoys snorkeling Maine lakes, particularly the crystal clear our bodies of water close to her dwelling. She was first launched to the exercise when she was a child rising up in Winterport, however didn’t pursue the pastime in earnest till about 8 years in the past. Since then, she’s been snorkeling pretty repeatedly, beginning in June and persevering with into early fall.
“I identical to to go searching,” Wagner stated. “I love to do some images on land, to see what’s beneath my toes. So why not beneath the water?”
Utilizing a water-proof GoPro digital camera, Wagner takes pictures of fish, turtles, lily pads and different delicate aquatic crops. She additionally shoots underwater movies to share along with her household and buddies.
“I’m probably not up on [my] fish, however in Department Pond, I noticed a catfish sooner or later,” she stated. “And towards fall I used to be in Craig Pond and there have been every kind of huge lazy-looking fish simply sort of circling in an enormous college. Anyone instructed me they had been in all probability suckers.”
Although the water close to her dwelling is comparatively clear, she sometimes finds trash resting on lake bottoms.
“I’ve discovered stuff that clearly was from ice fisherman like frying pans and knives and issues they had been cooking with on the ice,” she stated. “And what? I discover lots of golf balls.”
Braving the present
Maine is dwelling to a few of the wildest whitewater within the Northeast, together with a collection of turbulent rapids on the West Department of the Penobscot River. That is the place Jay Robinson, 64, of Woodville goes snorkeling.
Extra particularly, Robinson snorkels in a backwater channel of Pockwockamus Falls, the place the present is delicate and fish are plentiful. He started swimming there again within the ‘80s, when his father bought a camp a couple of mile up river.
“There are every kind of attention-grabbing issues to see, particularly the additional up you swim into the present,” Robinson stated. “There are a few good swimming pools, not too deep, the place you possibly can maintain onto the rocks and lay on the underside and see fish and different issues.”
A snorkel solely gives air on the floor of the water, but many snorkelers dive all the way down to get nearer to underwater options. Whereas doing this, they should maintain their breath. As well as, they could must equalize their ears, releasing strain by pinching their nostril and gently blowing out. And after they floor, they usually must blow water out of their snorkel earlier than utilizing it breathe as soon as extra.
On one notably sizzling summer time day a couple of years in the past, Robinson went all the way down to “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Gap” and seen a bunch of damaged turtle eggs alongside the shore. Considering nothing of it, he dove down and seen what regarded like a ravishing, moss-covered rock on the underside. When he was a couple of foot from the “rock,” he realized it was a big snapping turtle.
“I made out its tail slowly waving within the present,” Robinson stated. ”By no means did one particular person exit the water sooner than me.”
Over time whereas snorkeling the Penobscot, Robinson has seen crayfish and freshwater clams, sunken logs from the log driving days, and colourful rocks worn easy by the dashing present. And each from time to time, he spies what fly fishermen on the river are hoping to catch.
“I discovered [that] if I stood in a single place, in deep water, particularly within the night simply earlier than darkish, I’d see some good-sized trout and salmon,” Robinson stated.
Exploring Maine’s ocean
When folks consider snorkeling within the ocean, they often consider tropical places which have colourful fish and coral reefs. However Maine’s coastal waters are teeming with attention-grabbing creatures and aquatic crops that may simply be noticed whereas snorkeling. It’s additionally dwelling to a variety of sunken ships.
“For those who’re in a pleasant web site with nice visibility you possibly can see crabs, lobster, several types of fish, hermit crabs, [and] several types of seaweed,” stated Jim Dock, lead teacher at Aqua Diving Academy in Portland. “You by no means know what you’re going to get from day after day.”
Snorkeling is commonly a gateway exercise into scuba diving, which is a way more advanced sport that requires particular coaching and tools, Dock stated. Scuba diving permits folks to dive deeper and keep underwater for longer as a result of it contains using an oxygen tank. Each actions are sometimes lifelong sports activities.
“Lots of people get conversant in snorkeling first,” Dock stated. “Children be taught it at summer time camp or their household camp, then sort of go from there. That’s how I received into scuba myself.”
Dock sometimes snorkels in shallow, protected coves the place publicity to wind and present is restricted. These places are safer for swimming, however additionally they are inclined to have clearer water than areas the place wind and waves whip up sediment from the underside.
No matter the place you select to snorkel of Maine’s coast, it will likely be chilly. The water temperature hits its peak in September at round 60 levels Fahrenheit, based on the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Affiliation. To remain heat, Dock advises carrying a wetsuit.
“Studying to loosen up is crucial,” Dock stated. “As soon as you agree down and loosen up and roll with it, it’s very peaceable. One of many issues I take pleasure in most about snorkeling and diving is it’s quiet and permits you go get outdoors your regular world and deal with one thing completely different.”