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One dead already from Miniseason

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By Steve Waters

Sun Sentinel

10:13 a.m. EDT, July 30, 2014

Despite the good weather, the first day of South Florida's lobster miniseason turned deadly on Wednesday when a diver died.

According to Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King, shortly before 8:30 this morning rescuers were informed that an unconscious man was being brought to the Hillsboro Inlet by boat.

The 22-year-old man had been on a professional dive boat and was diving for lobster in 40 feet of water when he surfaced unconscious, emergency responders were told.


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Off Pompano Beach before dawn on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, a boater prepares to take part in lobster miniseason.

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<b>Photos:</b> Past lobster mini seasons in South Florida


King said the man was transferred to a Sea Tow boat and brought into the Hillsboro Inlet Marina where emergency crews peformed CPR and advanced life support procedures and took him to Broward Health north where he was pronounced dead.

This incident is the first reported death of South Florida's lobster miniseason which began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and runs until midnight Thursday.

Miniseason is so popular because it is the first chance for divers to catch the tasty crustaceans, known as bugs, since the recreational and commercial lobster seasons closed on April 1. Outside of Biscayne National Park and the Keys, the daily bag limit is 12 lobsters per person, which is twice the regular season limit.

Although the weather forecast calls for 40 percent chance of rain both days, sea conditions will be flat with southerly winds of 5-10 knots, which is good for diving.

Divers out before dawn on Wednesday had a light breeze and calm conditions and, based on the boats at the Alsdorf Boat Ramp Park in Pompano Beach. About 5:30 a.m. only a handful of boats were launching and there was no wait.

If you have a good day, show us your catch! Post your lobster photos at and on Instagram by tagging your photos with #miniseason.

Because miniseason attracts so many divers to the waters off Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, boaters and divers must be extra careful to avoid each other.

As the late Mike Lamphear used to say, “Every time you have a confrontation between a stainless steel prop and a diver, there’s only one winner. And it’s not the diver. For people who dive, a diver down flag is the best protection they’ve got.”

A captain with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Lamphear spoke to dive clubs before miniseason about being prepared to dive. Many divers only dive during the miniseason, which means their skills and their dive gear might be rusty.

Lamphear often told the story of the diver whose BC had deteriorated. She never checked it out before miniseason, jumped into the water and went straight to the bottom. Unable to get air into the BC, she drowned.

Chuck Van Buskirk, of Deerfield Beach, told of the time he and buddy had completed their first dive and were changing out their tanks. While chatting, the friend removed his used air tank and then absent-mindedly hooked up the same tank to his BC without them realizing it until they got back in the water.

“We hit the bottom and all of a sudden his eyes were this big,” said Van Buskirk, who was able to give his friend his backup regulator to breathe off of as they returned to the surface. “When I go in the water, I always have air in my BC so I avoid going straight to the bottom.”

[email protected] or Twitter @WatersOutdoors


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