BAR HARBOR—After 20 years of leading ocean explorations here through his Dive-In Theater, Diver Ed Monat is moving to Eastport, at least for the season.
There, the Dive-In Theater will operate under Eastport Windjammers, a family-owned company that has provided sea excursions for the last 40 years. Tickets for the Dive-In Theater can be purchased beginning June 15, with the first trip setting sail on June 21.
“It’s actually a better place to highlight marine life in Maine,” said Monat. “The marine life here has just dwindled so much we had to come up with a plan.”
Passamaquoddy Bay is listed in Scott Santella’s book, “50 Places to Dive Before You Die,” which is the area Monat will be exploring.
“As far as being a diver and a place to go, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s incredible diving. As a diver, it’s a super attraction.”
Largely geared towards children, Monat’s underwater explorations include his sidekick, a doll named Mini Ed, while his wife, Edna, affectionately known as Captain Evil, steers the boat. Passengers of the Dive-In Theater get to touch whatever marine life is brought to the surface, which can include starfish, lobsters and sea cucumbers.
“Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater has provided many entertaining, educational and unforgettable experiences to me and all the past children who have come through my preschool that were lucky enough,” wrote Terry Toole who works at Greenhouse Nursery School in Milford. “I think I speak for everyone at the Greenhouse Nursery School when I say, Thank you Diver Ed! We still have your book! You will always be (a) legend!”
In Eastport, Monat expects to add to the creatures featured on the trips because there is more to discover down below the ocean surface.
“They have stuff there that we don’t even have,” he said, noting there are also more sharks. “There’s a lot more sharks there. I might lose a flipper.”
A graduate of College of the Atlantic, Monat has operated his tours from the school’s dock for much of the Dive-In Theater’s history. Last year, with the college’s campus closed, Monat ran some trips from the town dock. Each spring around Earth Day, Monat hosts an ocean clean up with the League of Underwater Superheroes. And, like many with a diving certificate, Monat can be found in the water during scallop season or doing any number of things to assist local agencies.
To prepare for the new adventure, Monat’s boat, the Starfish Enterprise, got a fresh paint job recently, but is still sitting on land.
“On top of everything we still don’t have the big boat in the water,” he said, noting once it is in, the trek eastward will take place on a nice day.
While working in Eastport, Monat will be living in a boat on the water and Edna will remain on Mount Desert Island to tend to the couple’s land-based menagerie.
“We’re not moving there; this is just for this season,” said Monat. “This will be a trial year. We’ll see what happens. We don’t know what the next season looks like at all.”
Learning to maneuver the intense tides in the Bay of Fundy, trying not to have his equipment eaten by a porbeagle shark and weathering a new territory that is not as saturated with tourists will all be part of Monat’s initial season with Eastport Windjammers.
“We’ve always said forever that the Dive-In Theater belongs in Eastport,” he said. “At some point in life, it’s about more than money. It’s about staying happy.”