Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whales and Lobsters

Whales and lobster don't have much to do with each other, what with one scurrying along the bottom grabbing anything they can and the other scooping up mouthfuls of krill shrimp and zooplankton salad. The Right Whale about whose survival marine zoologists worry is the species about which Melville waxed in Moby Dick , Chapter 75 : " the Right Whale I take to have been a Stoic; the Sperm Whale, a Platonian, who might have taken up Spinoza in his latter years".

But the lobsters ply the same waters as the giant mammals and so, to avoid entanglement, the lobstermen have been forced to buy sinking line, some of which which we see coiled up here at the base of the traps stacked up on the dock at Simmons Wharf in Friendship during the off-season.

The Gulf of Maine Lobster Fishermen's rope exchange program helped many lobstermen with the replacement of old - perfectly usable - line with new - whale-friendly "sinking line".

One might get the impression driving the coast that lobstermen have an idyllic life, picking up lobster traps here and there about the rivers and bays, on sunny summer afternoons. That would be wrong. October, November, December are big months and the crustaceans lie in deep water 25 miles out to sea where lobstermen (and they are nearly all men) bait, set, tend, and haul the traps, band, and finally sell the product of 500 - 800 traps per license holder.

Images: drawing - Bowsprite; Photos: line exchange - Gulf of Maine Lobster Fishermen.org; Simmons Wharf - Friendship, ME - gwc