New Jersey Scuba Diving
Fishing Gear: Traps & Dredges
While not exactly shipwreck artifacts, lobster traps, scallop dredges, and other fishing equipment are not uncommon sights on and around New Jersey shipwrecks.
A modern wire lobster trap - a common sight around shipwrecks.
A similar trap provides shelter for a Conger Eel. Note that the trap is wide open. If you find a lobster trap with no buoy line attached, then it is lost, and fair game to plunder. Otherwise, leave it alone - the lobster fishermen need to make a living too.
Modern wire-mesh lobster traps on a dock
An old-style wooden lobster trap - you don't see these any more, except as decoration on people's lawns.
Shellfish dredges are used to harvest clams and scallops from the sea floor. Scallop dredges are relatively small and light, while clam dredges are usually massive, with equally heavy towing gear, and a commensurately large and powerful vessel to draw it.
Typical scallop dredging operation; clamming is similar. Modern dredges use water jets to loosen the bottom in front of the rakes, with the water pumped down from the boat to the dredge in a large hose. The dredge is raised and lowered with a steel cable, but towed with a more elastic nylon line.
Dragger captains try to avoid getting their gear caught in underwater obstructions, and have long lists of numbers of places to avoid. However, not all snags are known, and new ones are often discovered the hard way. When a clam dredge hangs up on an old shipwreck, it is often just pulled right through. Many of our old wooden wrecks are simply torn apart this way. Even metal wrecks can be damaged, as was the subway car upon which all the furor was based. I once watched a hung-up clam boat pulling in all directions to free it's dredge, like a dog wrapped around a tree. If a large, expensive clam dredge breaks free, it is usually recovered with divers, who reattach the tow line.
Smaller scallop dredges seem more likely to break free and be lost than clam dredges. Scallop draggers also seem to take more chances, towing closer to known obstructions, because that is where the scallops are. As a result, a number of old shipwrecks are decorated with lost scallop dredges. The only sunken clam dredges I know of went down with their ships, such as the Beth Dee Bob and the Adriatic.
Scallop dredge on the 120 wreck
It is perhaps 8 feet across. There is an identical one on the Granite Wreck.
A massive, cage-like clam dredge, drawn up onto its frame.
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