Friday, December 27, 2013

The Other Lobster

As you know, I am in southern Florida, visiting family for the holidays and working from the road. Well, last week we were down in the Keys enjoying the sun and sea.

David's aunt and uncle have a killer place right on a canal on the Gulf side of Key Largo. Shortly after we arrived, we were lounging under the tiki hut when we noticed a pile of manatees congregating. We snatched up our Contour+2, plopped it in the water and caught them in action. We definitely do not have these guys up home and they are a real treat to see. There were lots of jokes about us adding them to our menu as sea cow steaks.

David and I dived with his dad two days in a row. The first day we dived Molasses Reef located in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park located off from Key Largo Florida. It was a little rough and windy but we made due. The visibility was decent and, as usual, Molasses was a worth while dive.

Some of the species we saw were: trigger fish, spiny lobster, trumpetfish, cowfish, parrotfish, barracuda, trunkfish.

The second day we had been hoping to dive the wreck of the Duane or the Spiegel Grove, but the wind had really piped up and we decided to stick to gulf side of the Keys and search for spiny lobster.

Lobstering in Florida is a little different than up home. Here is a quick run down of some of the differences:

                                                                             Maine                                            Florida
Can dive for them recreationally            No                                                 Yes
Can trap them recreationally                  Yes                                                No
Can dive for them commercially             No                                                 Yes
Can trap them commercially                   Yes                                                 Yes
Recreational catch limit                          5 traps - unlimited lobsters              5 lobsters/day in season
Season                                                     year round                                       multiple split seasons
Recreational License Required             lobster specific license                     Florida fishing license

While David has dived for Florida lobsters many times in the past, this was a first for me. It was a great experience to see the differences between the southern and northern lobsters. Florida lobsters tend to be skittish while Maine lobsters can be incredibly aggressive. While diving up home, I have literally been attacked by lobsters defending the mud holes and hunting territory. Next summer I hope to post a video of some of our lobsters in action.

I wish we could dive for lobsters recreationally. I think a diving charter to see lobsters in their natural environment would be very successful, especially if the customer could take one home with them for dinner.

With the water temperature only 72 degrees and the air temperature 75 it was a little chilly with the wind blowing. After hunting for a couple hours we called it quits, shivering with blue lips and one lonely lobster.

The lobster was just large enough for me and David to share for dinner. We sliced the lobster in half while it was still alive.

Then we drizzled it with butter and garlic powder and broiled it in the oven for a few minutes until brown and cooked. We served it over buttered pasta and it was quite tasty.