(WSVN) - It’s day one of lobster mini-season in South Florida, and there’s trouble on the water.
Monroe County officials said a man died after drowning just off Sawyer Key at around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.
About an hour and half later, a second man in the Keys died after getting struck by a propeller while on a dive in the Lower Keys.
It’s a reminder to divers and boaters to be mindful during this busy two-day event.
“This is the most important symbol that everyone is going to see,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Tyson Matthews. “This means that there are divers in the water actively harvesting.”
A third man also later died after Pompano Beach Fire Rescue responded to a drowning off 11th and North Ocean Boulevard.
Officials said the man went into cardiac arrest after coming up from a dive.
“It is important that somebody, a trusted individual knows where you are and what your plan is throughout your time,” said U.S. Coast Guard Officer Brandon Earhart.
The strict regulations are in place to ensure everyone safely gets their fair share before commercial season starts.
Night diving is only prohibited in Monroe County and all divers must put up a dive flag.
Spiny lobsters must be measured in the water, be more than three-and-a-half inches long, and have a tail length of five-and-a-half inches or more.
A fishing license and lobster permit is required for most.
And you can only separate the tail from the body and ring the lobster once you arrive to land.
“We come here every year, this is a South Florida tradition,” said lobster diver Alex Gelletta.
Plenty of people were spotted on the water Wednesday morning looking to score a big haul this year.
“It was excellent, we went out early in the morning, we were probably in the water at 6:45 [a.m.], soon as the light came out, and as soon as we got in the water, we were catching them,” said lobster diver Emmanuel Alsina.
“It was a fruitful dive,” said Nikki Gelletta.
Some got lucky quick.
“We got our limit in about, I would say an hour. We got about 12 per person,” Alsina said.
But they were always careful to follow the rules.
“There was a lot of undersized guys, you gotta be careful,” Nikki said.
To make for an even better 2022 lobster mini-season…
“Make sure that you’re leaving them for next year so that they can get nice and big for ya,” Nikki said.
Mini season lasts until midnight on Thursday.
For more rules about lobster diving, click here.
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