A dive gone wrong
From U.S. Coast Guard reports
On a calm, sunny Florida morning in May a commercial fisherman on a moored 43-foot boat was filling a dozen or so scuba tanks with 3,000 psi of nitrox, an oxygen-enriched air mixture.
The vessel was equipped with air compressors, oxygen tanks, regulators, buoyancy control devices, dive calculators, and spear guns used to venture up to 150 feet below the ocean's surface in search of snapper and grouper. After prepping the vessel and making sure all the gear was in working order, the skipper and three-man crew untied the lines.
Everyone onboard had worked diving together for several years.
Late in the day the crew reached the day's final dive spot 60 miles east of Mayport. Taking into account the wind and current, the skipper instructed one of the crew members to "ready the hook" while the skipper maneuvered the boat so the ledge would be just off their stern. Minutes later the anchor was set and two divers donned their wet suits and assembled their gear.
Spear guns in hand, the divers disappeared below the surface. Diving at a depth of 140 to 145 feet allowed them just 12 to 14 minutes of bottom time. They closely monitored their digital dive computers so they would know when to resurface.
Reaching the ocean floor in tandem, they parted ways toward opposite ends of the ledge. As they swam away from each other, one diver heard the sound of a spear gun being discharged.
"He must have gotten one!" he thought to himself as he continued swimming away from his partner. A little later, that diver resurfaced, swimming toward the boarding ladder at the stern of the boat empty-handed.
As the minutes passed with no sign of the other diver, the crew grew anxious. The skipper said if the diver hadn't resurfaced after 28 minutes, they'd go down and look for him.
The skipper made a mayday call, requesting Coast Guard assistance for a missing diver.
While awaiting help, the skipper instructed both men onboard to don their gear and search for the missing diver.
Shortly after they dove in, the two men recovered the missing diver. He was unresponsive.
They performed CPR on the boat until a Coast Guard helicopter arrived to airlift the diver to the nearest hospital. He was pronounced dead from injuries consistent with drowning.
In this case, Coast Guard investigators determined the accident occurred largely because an oversight led to the fisherman's scuba tanks being filled with an incorrect oxygen-air mixture.
Divers performing work-related diving activities are encouraged to have a thorough understanding of safety guidelines applicable to their unique trade. Whether working on the surface or the ocean floor, fish safe!
This article is based on U.S. Coast Guard reporting and is intended to bring safety issues to the attention of our readers. It is not intended to judge or reach conclusions regarding the ability or capacity of any person, living or dead, or any boat or piece of equipment.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body, a group of state, tribal and federal representatives from New England who are working to implement the National Ocean Policy and address critical New England ocean issues, is holding a series of public meetings in May and June.
The meetings are being held to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. The planning body seeks input on these goals and actions. Additional information on the group's progress can be found here.
The meetings will also provide an opportunity to review draft maps and products from initial efforts to gather information on the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation, energy and infrastructure, aquaculture, and recreation.