Safe Lobster Hunting

Release the hounds! You animals out there are frothing at the mouth to get after the lobster. “Bugs,” as they are called by serious aficionados, attract hunters from all up and down the coast and far inland because of their delicate rich flavor in the firm white meat of their tail. A bit of melted butter and eating is like a heavenly drug. Now I am getting psyched-up!

This year hunting will start at a frantic pace on 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 2nd and continues for weeks following. Even if you are not a nut about it, the feverish fun can be intoxicating. Few things beat the camaraderie, joking and frivolity that take place aboard a dive charter boat the night of the season opener.

But in the festive nature of this all-out gang grab of bugs, an element of sobriety must be in place. This is, after all, scuba diving, a sport that has its inherent hazards. Normal dive rules apply.

Number one is watch your breathing gas supply. Surface with 500 p.s.i., more if you’re diving in and around kelp. I am now in love with my air-integrated dive computer that tells, by beeping, when I am halfway through my tank and then more frantically as I approach the point when I should be surfacing. And I can customize it at what point it beeps.

Don’t push the deco limits. Even if your computer says you’re okay, don’t bring it right to the edge, especially if you are over 40 and even just a bit out of shape. Remember, this is cold water and you will likely be working hard chasing bugs.

Do not exceed your personal comfort level. This is supposed to be fun — and safe. Personally, I have gotten myself in tense situations up in the shallows in surge and froth. Don’t push your comfort level on beach diving surf entries, especially at night, heavy seas, and excessive depths. Stay out of caves unless you’re entirely comfortable. Don’t attempt night diving unless you are with another more experienced, yet attentive diver, or you have been trained in a specialty course for night diving.

Bottom line: No lobster is worth risking your life. If the conditions aren’t right (seas and self) swallow your pride, cancel the dive, head to the seafood market, and shed a few dollars for a lobster. Look at it as an investment in your safety.

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