- Trio Rescued in the Gulf 3 Miles From Dive Boat
- US Coast Guard Cutter Pursuing Fish Piracy Case
- France Approves Shark Hunt Following Frequent Attacks
Two experienced divers and one 13-year-old boy making his first open water dive had to be rescued in the Gulf of Mexico after strong currents took them more than 3 miles from their boat. The trio, all from Gulf Breeze, Florida, had set out last Thursday to complete the boy’s SCUBA open water certification, anchoring their boat above a wreck 15 miles south of Orange Beach at about 2:30 that afternoon. The two older men, who are experienced divers, were aware of a strong current and poor visibility at the site, but decided to press on. Upon surfacing, they realized that the current had taken them much further from the boat than expected, and attempts to swim were futile, leaving them no choice but to drift and hope for rescue.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Reel Worthless was preparing their boat in the marina of Orange Beach for a night fishing expedition. At about 10:30pm, the captain of the Reel Worthless had steered the boat 15 miles south, in the vicinity of the divers’ boat, when he saw three green blinking strobe lights. Thinking that it must be a boat or a buoy, he checked the radar to find no indication of either. Upon slowing down and shining a spotlight in the direction of the strobes, it was then that he saw the three divers waving, shouting, and blowing their safety whistles.
The crew of the Reel Worthless helped the divers onto their boat, where they alerted the Coast Guard and worked to warm the boy, who appeared to be suffering from the early stages of hypothermia. The Coast Guard had already been alerted by a family member of the divers, one of which knew the GPS coordinates of the anchored dive boat. The Reel Worthless delivered the divers back to their boat, and once the three were on their way, went back on their fishing mission.
The three divers came through their ordeal unharmed, but the owner of the dive boat lamented that he did not have a “bubble watcher” on board, which is someone to man the boat while divers are down and watch for the tell-tale bubble trails of divers below. The captain of the Reel Worthless also learned something that day: the importance of strobe lights on life jackets, noting that if it weren’t for the lights the divers were wearing, he may never have seen them at all.
A 378-foot US Coast Guard cutter is just off the coast of Japan, despite being assigned to Alaskan waters to patrol and enforce commercial fishing law. While on duty, the Rush discovered and began to pursue an unregistered fishing vessel suspected of catching 40 tons of fish using 8-mile long drift nets, a practice that has been banned globally since 1992. Crew members of the Rush boarded the vessel, which was being manned by Chinese citizens, while the Coast Guard works with other departments to seize the “stateless” ship. Prosecution could take place in China, given that all the crew are Chinese citizens, but they could also be tried in the US as well, since they were operating in US territorial waters. A US Senator who chaired the subcommittee hearing on the matter stated, “I hope we’re filing charges — not just against the men operating the ship, but the buyers of these fish, and tracking it down to the networks that are funding these kinds of illegal operations.”
The French Indian Ocean island of Reunion is in a frenzy following two shark attacks that occurred within one week, one of which resulted in the death of a surfer. More than 300 townspeople staged a protest in front of the island’s police station, demanding a cull of tiger and bull sharks in the area. The hunting of these species is not illegal in France, but the flesh of the shark contains a powerful toxin that can lead to severe food poisoning, making them an unappealing catch for fishermen, which has led to an increase in their numbers. Although he has refused a regulated cull, the overseas minister of France has approved professional fishermen to come in and kill roughly 20 of the sharks, in order to study the toxin in the flesh and try to determine its source.