What's clear: Visibility in 80-foot depths has been 50 feet and, barring any late tropical activity, shallower water also should clear up as the temperature drops. Big hogfish have been the dominant prey for spearfishermen in all depths, and some well-entrenched spiny lobsters have been spotted lately.
More tragedy: The death toll for free divers this year is more than 60 worldwide, with two deaths and one near death in Florida last month. Free-diver blackout is the usual cause, with young spearfishermen often the victims. Breath-hold divers can starve for oxygen as they ascend, with the majority of blackouts occurring within seconds after reaching the surface. Once they exhale, they quickly sink and drown. Two weeks ago in Miami, a trained free diver caught and rescued a sinking unconscious buddy. Unfortunately, many times nobody is close by or they don't know to wait and watch a buddy recover for 30 seconds after a free dive.
Chad Carney teaches diving and spearfishing in the Tampa Bay area and can be reached at floridaskindiver.com or (727) 423-7775.