August 10, 2008

Fifth Abalone Diver Dies Off Sonoma Coast!

Illustration of an abalone free dive. Easy pickings.
More than just abalone you'll have to contend with.
Got limit?
Watch out for the kelp!

by Moss

Last year seven people died while attempting to abalone dive off of the Sonoma County coast. Yesterday, a 54 year old man died while getting tangled up in a kelp bed near Stillwater Cove. That brings this years total deaths to five so far, with plenty of time left in the season. The average death rate on the coast during the abalone season is usually two. I've been know to search on occasion for abalone near Fort Ross, but usually have little luck because I DO NOT go in the water, rather I search at minus zero low tides. The hazards in and around the Pacific Ocean are legendary. Not just the Sonoma Coast, but all oceans, bays, seas and rivers have hidden and visible dangers. Interesting side note - the deaths on the Russian River have spiked in the last decade. At last count there have been 18 deaths since 2000..usually young, healthy, Latino men who don't know how to swim. Abalone diving however, has its own inherent dangers. Some of these include; sharks, rays, jelly fish, entanglement from kelp beds and long-line fishing, sneaker waves, currents, submerged debris, reaction to cold water, Sacramento Syndrome/Spring Lunacy and other deadly accidents due to inexperience or miscalculations.
Click here to read my previous post on abalone diving.

Stillwater Cove, Sonoma County, CA Anatomy of an abalone.
Freaky underwater view of a kelp forest.

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