Cooks Beach in Mendocino County

With less than one week left in the 2015 abalone diving season, the ocean has claimed the life of another north coast abalone diver. It’s the eighth fatality related to abalone diving in 2015.

On Sunday, November 22, a 56-year old San Francisco man was diving for abs near Cooks Beach in Mendocino County. He began struggling to stay afloat in the water. His dive buddy attempted to render assistance while yelling for help from other divers in the area, and emergency responders were called to the scene at about 12:50pm. It took about half an hour for the victim’s partner to swim him to shore, where, unfortunately, emergency responders determined he had died.

Coast Guard officials in Fort Bragg said they were called to respond, but then called off because the divers were already out of the water. Neither Sonoma County nor Cal Fire helicopters were available Sunday to assist in the rescue.

The victim and his partner had reportedly been diving the day before and reportedly had no problems in the water, and the ocean was relatively calm Sunday. There were eight to 10 people diving for abalone from the same beach around the same time as the incident happened on Sunday.

The victim was reported to be overweight, and may not have been sufficiently fit for the effort of swimming and diving for abalone, Warner said. The man had only a 1-gallon container that he was using as a flotation device, insufficient to keep him afloat, Greg Warner, South Coast Volunteer Fire Protection District chief, said. The man was also using a 1-gallon container as a flotation device, insufficient to keep him afloat.

Sheriff’s officials said they would not release the diver’s identity until his family is notified.

The last diving fatality off the Mendocino Coast this year happened Aug. 21, when a Pleasanton man died while diving for abalone near the town of Mendocino.

Editor’s note: Most dive publications do not report fatalities, however we feel that in certain cases it’s important to share these incidents as a way to help other divers make better decisions and stay safer in the water. We would of course prefer that there are no dive accidents or fatalities, however we can learn to be better safer divers ourselves if we learn and understand what took place with these divers in questions. If you have any feedback on our approach to this, please share in the comments below or drop us an email at Thanks.