As spiny lobster season opens, the Coast Guard is warning divers to be extra cautious going out into the water. The goal is to begin and end the season without any deaths or injuries.
During last year's lobster season in Southern California, five people lost their lives in dive-related deaths and two were injured. Lobster diving, not to be confused with regular diving, can be very dangerous. Coast Guard authorities say there's a lot more to it than just diving.
“You're actively trying to grab the lobsters, maintain a hold of them while monitoring your air pressure in your tank, your location under the water,” Lt. Cmdr. Kris Szczechowicz of the Coast Guard said.
All of that makes this a sport for the experienced diver. Last year among the five people who lost their lives was husband, father and experienced diver Jeffrey Logrando. He began struggling with his gear shortly after getting in the water at the Mission Bay Channel and then suddenly sank.
James Roberts has been diving for several years, but Friday he prepared for his first lobster dive. At the start of this season, officials urge that before you even get into the water, get a medical assessment from a doctor to make sure you’re in good condition. They say to check your gear, practice with it, leave behind a dive plan with someone else and - as Roberts can attest to - always dive with a buddy.
“We were diving last weekend as well and I happen to cross a fishing line I didn't see,” Roberts told NBC7. “So my buddy was there, he untangled the fishing line and we carried on.”
Authorities say many of these accidents happen because people underestimate the hazards of diving and overestimate their own ability.