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Deaths of two divers have Cape Ann scuba neighborhood asking questions

The Boston Globe

Authorities have but to announce how two skilled divers died on a simple check dive final week.

Entrance Seashore in Rockport. PATRICIA HARRIS

Richard Brady and Alan Leao had been often called expert divers who had been accustomed to the coast of Cape Ann. So their deaths earlier this month have touched off not simply grief, however bewilderment: How might each males have perished on a simple dive simply off a shallow seashore in Rockport?

Brady, 78, of Hampton, N.H., and Leao, 75, of Pepperell, died Oct. 4 throughout a routine dive in a spot whose relative ease has made it a favourite of scuba retailers taking rookies on their first dives within the ocean. In accordance with Brady’s daughter, the 2 males had been testing out gear earlier than a visit to Bonaire, an island off the Venezuelan coast.

A spokesperson for the Essex County District Lawyer’s Workplace stated the matter stays below investigation and declined to elaborate. Within the absence of an official rationalization, many within the small neighborhood of scuba divers on Cape Ann are struggling to know what befell the completed watermen.

“Any 70-plus year-old man who dies underwater might have had a medical situation like a coronary heart assault,” stated Micah Dean, a marine biologist from Gloucester who works for the Division of Marine Fisheries. “That occurs each every now and then round right here.

“However to have two dive buddies each die, you need to surprise if there’s one thing else that occurred. It could be too laborious for these coincidences to align,” Dean added.

Richard Brady, 78, of Hampton, N.H., (left) and Alan O. Leao, 75, of Pepperell. – ALAN O. LEAO JR.

Veteran divers described Entrance Seashore, close to downtown, as about as mild as diving within the ocean could be, which is why it has been the positioning of scuba lessons for many years.

“It’s a really forgiving spot that’s largely sand and really shallow,” stated Mike Merriman, an impartial dive teacher who has been instructing lessons on the seashore for 20 years. “You’d should swim fairly far to get to 30 ft of depth.”

Professional divers interviewed for this text stated the very first thing you’d need to take a look at is the air provide to find out whether or not it was tainted, or had maybe run empty.

Matt Ayer, 43, of Gloucester, who does business work as Matt the Diver, stated the most typical gear malfunction is named a free move, the place the regulator — the system that delivers air from the tank to the diver’s mouth — is rapidly spilling out air.

“You may nonetheless breathe off the tank, but it surely’s going a lot quicker, so that you abort the dive and slowly make your solution to the floor after which swim in,” he stated.

So Ayer stated his first concern when he heard concerning the two deaths was whether or not there was dangerous air of their tanks, comparable to extra carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the compressor used to fill the tanks.

“That’s pure hypothesis, however you’d need to know the place they crammed their tanks, and to check them if there was any air left in them,” he stated.

Federal regulation requires all dive tanks to undergo hydrostatic strain testing each 5 years.

Others have speculated that the primary man bumped into hassle and the second died making an attempt to rescue him. Entanglement is one other concern for divers, in an ocean suffering from particles. However common divers at Entrance Seashore stated that’s not a lot of a priority round there.

Sharks usually are not but the issue on Cape Ann that they’re on Cape Cod, however this summer season for the primary time there have been a number of experiences of lifeless seals washed ashore with chunks lacking from them, Dean stated. However witnesses didn’t report any seen trauma to Leao’s physique when he was discovered floating off Entrance Seashore simply after 11 a.m. and pulled to shore. Brady’s physique was found within the early night by the State Police Dive Crew.

“The one different animal that might create issues for them is an Atlantic torpedo ray, a giant, fats skate that appears like a pancake however has developed to provide an electrical cost,” Dean stated. “One of many solely locations they’re reliably present in Massachusetts is alongside the Gloucester and Rockport shoreline. However I can’t think about it might produce sufficient present to ship a grown man right into a coronary heart assault.”

Cape Ann has lengthy been a well-liked dive spot, because of its simple coastal entry and the comparatively wealthy marine life that lives alongside its rocky shore and the granite rock ledges beneath the water.

Divers can count on to see every kind of crabs and lobsters, anemones and sponges, surf clams, and moon snails and periwinkles. Striped bass are ample, as are flounder, and it’s not unusual to identify bluefish, cunner, northern pike fish, and tautog.