Ben Oostdam's


page 32
SCUBA diving
We did a lot of diving for abalone, of which you could collect a maximum of five a day . In the beginning I used the common tire-iron to pry them loose from the rocks, but later I found out that if you were fast, you could get your fingers underneath while they still hovered, and so dislodge them easily.

As soon as I got them, I put them inside my wet suit, where they would move around so that the public at the cove - at that time still unaccustomed to divers - would wonder about the bulges and shiver when they found out.
At home or in the lab, we would slice the meat very thin, hammer it paper-thin and almost transparent with a wooden mallet and then fry it. It did not have too much taste prepared this way - usually tasting like what you had last fried in the pan -but it was a good meal and saved me enough money in the long run to afford my return trip to Holland in June, 1963. I am also still using a shell as ashtray some 40 years later.

It was fascinating to dive in the submarine canyon heads on either side of the pier.
Once, I reached into a crevice and thought I felt an abalone, till I saw the smiling beak of a

moray eel a few feet away and realized I had the end of his tail in my hand. I gave it a firm tuck and swam away, looking down to see it emerge like a train from a tunnel.
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