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New Jersey Scuba Diving


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.

Lobster Traps

modern wire lobster trap
A modern wire lobster trap - a common sight around shipwrecks.

modern wire lobster trap
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 lobster trap
Modern wire-mesh lobster traps on a dock

old-style wooden lobster trap
An old-style wooden lobster trap - you don't see these any more, except as decoration on people's lawns.

Shellfish Dredges

Scallop dredge

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.

Scallop dredge
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.

Scallop dredgeDragger 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
Scallop dredge on the 120 wreck

Scallop dredge
It is perhaps 8 feet across. There is an identical one on the Granite Wreck.

clam dredge
A massive, cage-like clam dredge, drawn up onto its frame.



I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
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since 2016-09-11