Chapter 3: Botany Under Water, 1962-1963

Not all botanical exploration takes place on land. As not all vegetation is terrestrial, thus, neither are all botanists. One such botanist who was not limited to dry land was Ivan Mackenzie Lamb. While he certainly botanized on land, he also SCUBA dove extensively to survey marine algae. Lamb went as far as Antarctica to dive for algae, but a series of well-documented dives was made much closer to home. In 1962 and 1963, Lamb and a changing cast of characters (including Richard E Waterhouse, R.A. Fralick, Martin Zimmermann, and Bob Knowles) made numerous dives off the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. One area off of Cape Ann, Massachusetts was monitored in a long-term study. The results of this study can be read in Lamb and Zimmerman's collaboration "Marine Vegetation of Cape Ann, Essex County, Massachusetts." (Rhodora 66 (1964): 217-254).

A dive log was kept for the Cape Ann and other dives. This log, which now resides in the archives of the Farlow Library, initially presents a serious record of weather conditions, water temperatures, divers present, and specimens collected. Soon, however, it becomes a humorous collaborative diary of the divers' adventures. Indeed, many entries refer not to dives, but to ski trips to North Conway, New Hampshire. Lamb's entry on page 20 is especially silly. He writes C-c-c-come on in, the W-w-w-water's F-f-f-fine! and signes in a shaky hand with the letters made to look like they are dripping freezing water.

This dive log/diary also includes photographs, including pictures of divers in full diving regalia. In this photo of Lamb note that "Mack [Lamb] is recognizable by his pointed helmet--for rank." (Ann Venable, diving log, page 52) Some of these photos might indicate that the cold water may have made the divers a little silly. The photo to the left reads: After a dive to recover a "hot" space capsule... Note intense radiation emited from eyes and neck

The jovial tone of the logbook hides the fact that the dives were taken in water that was often just above the freezing point. In fact, Fralick writes of one dive in Rockport, Massachusetts, "If the Antarctic is no worse than today, it will actually be enjoyable." (diving log, page 56) The series of dives off of Deer Island, Maine were particularly brutal. Air temperatures hovered around 15º F, with a water temperature of 33º. Divers had to remain fully immersed or their breathing regulators would freeze. At one point, the divers' boat became coated in a layer of ice. The combination of ice and the motion of the sea caused Lamb to fall overboard and the boat to become swamped. No one was injured, but the day's diving was ruined. Even when injury did occur, however, it did not dampen the spirits of the divers. When Martin Zimmerman cut his hand on a submerged anchor, his injury was thus immortalized:

Lamb's diving log gives a glimpse into the trials, tribulations, and fun of fieldwork. While risks to life, limb, and core body temperature are often present, the excitement of scientific discovery can make it all worthwhile.