FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Florida's popular two-day event is Wednesday and Thursday.
Miniseason gives recreational lobster lovers the first shot at the tasty crustaceans since the regular lobster season ended March 31.
That opportunity, plus a liberal limit of 12 lobsters per person per day everywhere but in the Keys and Biscayne National Park, attracts many people who haven't dived since the previous miniseason as well as new divers who have never tried to catch a lobster.
"A lot of divers don't dive all year and they don't really check their gear out," said Jeff Torode of South Florida Diving Headquarters in Pompano Beach.
One way to make sure you're ready for miniseason is to participate
in Revive Your Dive! The program is geared specifically toward
lobster miniseason divers.
The program is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the International Swimming Hall of Fame, 501 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
Free of charge, it features a scuba refresher course taught in a pool, a dive gear inspection to make sure your equipment is in good shape and a diving fitness consultation to make sure divers are in shape for miniseason.
Revive Your Dive! was put together by Reef Ministries for certified divers and involves several local dive shops. A donation from participants is requested to help Reef Ministries train disadvantaged youngsters how to scuba dive. Space is limited. Register online at reefministries.com/revive-your-dive or call 954-495-7810.
"Divers that have not been diving for a while and equipment that has not been used in a while, that's what Revive Your Dive! is about," said Bill Cole of Sea Experience, a Fort Lauderdale dive shop and dive boat that is going to have some of its instructors at the event. "I think most of the [miniseason] diving accidents are not diving related, they're more physical related. People put themselves in situations where they're not in shape.
"You bring your gear, get a physical, get your gear checked out and get in the pool."
Cole also is conducting a free lobster seminar at 6 p.m. Monday at Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale.
The seminar will cover how to catch lobsters and lobster etiquette, "which means how to catch a lobster without hurting it if it's short or has eggs so you can put it back," Cole said.
The seminar will go over catching lobsters with snares or loopers as well as with nets and tickle sticks. To register, call Sea Experience at 954-770-DIVE or e-mail Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A common miniseason mistake for new and experienced divers is they end up drifting far away from their boats, either because they're not in shape to swim against strong currents or they forget to take the currents into account. Torode, who has three dive boats that offer miniseason trips, routinely picks up stranded divers from private boats.
Like Torode, Cole runs several miniseason trips on his dive boat. Those dives are shallow, so he doesn't worry about his divers getting decompression sickness, which is more commonly known as the bends. He does worry about them running out of air in their excitement to catch lobsters, which can make a diver breathe harder and use up air faster. His safety tip: Make sure you monitor your air supply.
You can't do that if your air pressure gauge isn't working properly, which gets back to checking out your gear before you dive. Torode said to also make sure your air tanks have been drained and refilled, because you don't want to breathe air that you put in your tanks a year ago.