Another abalone diver died on Saturday morning, May 4, despite a rescue attempt by Sonoma County Rangers and Cal Fire medical personnel.

The tragedy took place at Fisk Mill Cove, just North of Gerstle Cove on the Sonoma coastline. It was the same area where another diver died last weekend, and the fourth abalone diver to die in a 7-day period. The diver has not yet been identified, though it was reported to be a middle-aged male from the East Bay.

The victim reportedly wasn’t feeling well when he got out of the water around 8:15 a.m. and collapsed on the shoreline. Bystanders administered CPR and continued life-saving efforts for about 15 minutes until a state park lifeguard was flagged down, followed by additional state park personnel, Timber Cove and Cal Fire medical technicians, and a Mendocino Coast Ambulance crew.

The photograph below taken in the Fisk Mill Cove area about 4 hours after the rescue took place (click to see a larger version). Temperatures were in the upper 70’s to low 80’s with a very light wind and relatively calm ocean conditions. According to other divers also hunting for abalone, visibility was around 5-7 feet. The water temperature is 48 degrees.


Due to favorable dive conditions, many divers were in the water Saturday. Gerstle Cove had a regular flow of divers coming through, as did Ocean Cove and Stillwater Cove. The Sonoma County Lifeguards were also monitoring divers in the water in several locations.


Anyone attempting to freedive for abalone are reminded that even in the best of conditions, abalone diving is a very strenuous activity requiring the diver to be in very good physical condition. Every diver MUST be properly weighted before entering the water and be ready and willing to release their weight belt at any time they may feel they are in distress. It is essential to dive with a buddy and have surface support – such as a dive tube, board, or kayak. Most importantly – be willing to cancel your dive at anytime if the conditions are not good or well matched to your ability.

Dive safe.