SANTA ROSA — Two abalone divers died over the weekend in separate incidents at popular diving locations off the Northern California coast, officials said.
The deaths follow dozens of similar mishaps involving people searching for the prized mollusks off the California coast since the early 1990s, including three divers who died over one weekend in April. The mollusks are revered by seafood lovers and fetch high prices.
Divers found a 57-year-old Oakland man unresponsive on the ocean floor at the northern end of Fort Ross State Park in Sonoma County on Saturday after they noticed an unattended floatation device, Supervising State Park Ranger Jeremy Stinson told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa. The man was still wearing his weight belt, which is used to help a diver stay submerged while prying abalone loose from rocks.
They pulled him out, but could not revive him. Sonoma County coroner’s officials identified him on Monday as Alan Rosenlicht.
Stinson said it was not clear how long he had been in the water. He appeared to have been diving alone.
Rosenlicht’s death came a day after lifeguards found a 67-year-old San Francisco man floating in the water in Gerstle Cove in Salt Point State Park, also in Sonoma County. That man was identified on Monday as Clyde Thompson.
The lifeguards found his floatation device off shore after his girlfriend reported that he had not returned from a morning diving trip, Stinson said.