Abalone fishing in south Australia.

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Title: Abalone fishing in south Australia.
Author: Pollard, G
Abstract: Introduction: I have been an abalone diver for 15 years based in Port MacDonnell, on the south east of South Australia. Over the years this unprotected coastline, subjected to the prevalent westerlies, has claimed many sailing ships on its lee shores. Port MacDonnell is virtually the start of Bass Strait which has the reputation of being one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world. There are very few protected areas along this coast where swells are less than 1 m and with the westerlies more likely 2 m. To this can be added the complications of currents, surge and poor visibility so the diver does a lot of head butting of rocks and getting the knife jammed. The few calm days that do occur each year are fully occupied with diving and rough days are used for maintenance. Because of long underwater times decompression sickness (DCS) is a real danger. Abalone are usually associated with thick kelp and with the boat bouncing about in the rough conditions the surface supply hose can get hooked in the kelp. Movment of the boat can drag the diver backwards through the kelp, tangle the hose and even tether the diver to the bottom. In the old days that meant a rapid ascent after disconnecting the hose but now we reduce the risk of air embolism by wearing a bail out bottle and can go onto scuba for a more controlled ascent. On a number of occasions White Pointers have been spotted off Port MacDonnell, not too far off the wharf. I have never seen any, but they are there.
Description: Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society.
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/7735
Date: 2001

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