Authorities say three people who were diving for abalone, a type of sea mollusk, were killed in separate incidents in northern California over the weekend.
According to KCBS, the body of 66-year-old retired Pacifica firefighter Cedric Collett was found Saturday afternoon in the water off Sonoma County’s Shell Beach.
Collett was reportedly diving with a friend, who went for help after realizing Collett hadn’t re-surfaced.
“He taught us so much about being a better person,” said Joe Panko, of the Pacifica Fire Department. “Sad our loss and his family’s. It’s hard on everyone right now. This is so unexpected.”
Less than 24 hours after Collet’s death, 36-year-old Kenneth Liu of San Francisco got caught in a rip tide Sunday morning in Sonoma County and drowned.
Later that morning, a third diver’s body was found north of Fort Bragg.
Authorities say the third victim, 50-year-old Henry Choy of San Bruno, was found about 15 feet below the water and might have been caught in rocks.
“Friends saw him in distress. They couldn’t get to him because of rough conditions,” Mendocino County Deputy Coroner Scott Polma said.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat notes the triple deaths were the first of this year’s abalone season in the region.
Abalone, a type of shellfish, is eaten and considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Like other edible shellfish, the part that is eaten is the large muscular foot, which forms the majority of the body.
Due to concerns about over harvesting, many nations have limits on how many may be taken, and some entrepreneurs have opened abalone farms so that they can be harvested and sold legally.
Here is a video on freediving for abalone: