One man died and another was hospitalized on the first day of lobster mini-season Wednesday. Both incidents involved men diving for spiny lobster.
A man was pronounced dead at Lower Keys Medical Center on Wednesday morning after losing consciousness in the water at Sawyer Key, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt said.
The man was preparing to dive for lobsters shortly after 7 a.m. when he began to struggle in the water, Linhardt said.
A nearby boater helped with CPR, and the man was brought to Sugarloaf Key and then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, Linhardt said.
Autopsy results are pending. The man’s name, age and address are being withholding pending the notification of next of kin.
Another man was airlifted to Miami hospital after being struck by a boat propeller off the Lower Keys, Linhardt said.
The incident occurred at about 8:25 a.m. The man was taken to Cudjoe Key and then to Sugarloaf Key, where Trauma Star airlifted him to a Miami hospital. Sheriff’s Office officials did not know to which hospital the diver was taken, Linhardt said.
There were no other reported issues on the first day of the two-day sport season, which wraps up Thursday.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had reported a significant amount of size and bag limit violations for spiny lobster and fish in the Florida Keys on the first day, FWC Capt. Dave Dipre and Ofc. Bobby Dube said.
A majority of the fishery violations appear to have been made by visitors, not locals, Dipre added.
For the first time, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council has launched an extensive public awareness campaign to educate locals and visitors on the two-day lobster mini-season.
The TDC created a dedicated website, http://www.keyslobster season.com, that includes interactive videos with need-to-know dive and boating safety tips, up-to-date rules, regulations for lobster hunting within the Keys, such as daily limits and correct harvesting techniques.
Additional information on spiny lobster mini-season and regular season can be found at http://www.myfwc.com.