Safety First: On average, two die during Florida’s lobster sport season

Safety First: On average, two die during Florida’s lobster sport season

Divers Alert Network (DAN) will offer a series of presentations addressing lobster mini-season and risks associated with this two-day event. The series will start one week prior to this year’s mini season throughout the Keys and South Florida.

Dr. Peter Buzzacott, director of Injury Monitoring and Prevention at DAN, and staff have developed a presentation that includes a review of accidents, identifies common hazards and tips for how to avoid them. Buzzacott, a native of Western Australia, said the opening of that lobster season bears many similarities to the Keys.

“We have the same issues with recreational divers the first few days of season. It’s madness as people go after their limit,” he said.

The seminars will offer practical information, Buzzacott said.

“I have tips to reduce the cardiac work load while diving. For example, from a small boat I suggest heading down the anchor line and swimming forward into a slight current, rather than swimming willy-nilly everywhere,” he said.

DAN has partnered with many Keys locals to bring this series of educational seminars to fruition including the Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Coral Restoration Foundation and the History of Diving Museum.

“I spent some time at the DAN booth during a dive conference last year in Orlando, talking about the need for this type of education,” said Lisa Mongelia, executive director of the Diving Museum. “They immediately jumped on the bandwagon. It was a catalyst to start this program that will go up and down South Florida and get the word about about safety.”

Mongelia said the message needs repeating as often as possible.

“We need to keep bringing it back up to the surface again and again,” she said.

As the largest two-day recreational diving event in the world, the Florida mini-season draws thousands of divers to the area — between 30,000 and 50,000 and each year. On average, about two people die every year during sport season in the Keys.

“It doesn’t happen every year, and not every accident is dive related. Some accidents happen due to the interaction of boats,” said Thomas R. Matthews, a researcher with the FWC. “We need divers to remember ‘safety first, and catching lobster second.’”

DAN seminar schedule

 • Thursday, July 20:  History of Diving Museum at 7 p.m. in Islamorada.

• Friday, July 22: Coral Restoration Foundation at 6:30 p.m. p.m. in Key Largo.

• Monday, July 25: Murray Nelson Center at 3 p.m. in Key Largo.

• Tuesday, July 26: Bahia Honda State Park at 10 a.m. in the Lower Keys.

• Tuesday, July 26: Eco-Discover Center at 3 p.m. in Key West.

 

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