Florida’s Spiny Lobster Sport Season (“mini season”) is only two weeks away. The annual two-day event, which will take place on July 24 and 25, is eagerly anticipated by divers each year and draws participants from throughout the Southeast and beyond. While it’s a fun, challenging and tasty experience for most, more than 20 divers have lost their lives during mini season in the last decade.
Through analysis of these tragic deaths, researchers at Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) have identified the most relevant contributing factors and most important safety practices for divers participating in the annual event. These tips probably won’t surprise you, but sometimes the most basic precautions are the most likely to save a life. If you’re planning to hunt for lobsters this mini season, keep the following in mind:Check your air often! It’s easy to become distracted and ignore your air supply. Running out of gas is extremely dangerous, so keep an eye on it, and return to the surface with plenty in reserve. Stay close to your buddy. A dive buddy can provide an alternate air source in an emergency and help free you from entanglement. Be aware of your limitations. Between 20 and 30 percent of dive fatalities are caused by heart attacks. Make an honest and thorough assessment of your fitness before you get in the water. Consider your ability to perform a long surface swim against a strong current if needed. Plan your dive and dive your plan. Pay close attention to current, depth, marine life, entry and exit points, and overhead boat traffic.
“The best thing you can do to avoid incidents during mini season is to remember the fundamentals of safe diving,” said Bill Ziefle, DAN president and CEO. “The 2018 mini season was a great success in that no divers lost their lives, and it would be fantastic to see that repeated in 2019. Of course, DAN is here to help any divers who need us.”
For more tips for a safe mini season, visit DAN.org/Lobster.
For up-to-date information about lobster mini season regulations, go to My FWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational/Lobster.