UPDATE: A man’s body has been found on rocks south of Cuttagee Beach near Barragga Point. It is believed to be that of a local diver who went missing on Friday morning.
Police said in a statement that the body was found yesterday but has yet to be formally identified. A report will be prepared for the coroner.
December 28, 11 am:
The search has resumed this morning for a diver who went missing at about 10.30 am yesterday at Barragga Bay.
The diver is believed to be a 54-year-old local man. He was reported missing when he failed to reappear while spear-fishing with family members, prompting a massive search operation.
The Surf Life Saving Far South Coast support operations team and the Australian Lifeguard Service were dispatched to the site about 13 km south of Bermagui for a full scale, multi-agency operation.
Lifesavers provided two Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs), two jet skis with swimmers, an additional swimmer and duty officer to the operation while the lifeguards assisted with a swimmer and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from shore. Sea dye helped to determine currents and direct search areas.
The Lifesavers team joined Police, Marine Rescue and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter in the search. Lifesavers were stood down around 3:00 pm as police divers took over the search, which was then suspended at 7:00 pm on Friday night (28 December).
Marine Rescue Bermagui rescue vessel Bermagui 30 left from Bermagui this morning with police divers on board to provide an operating platform. The search began again at around 8:00 am.
Far South Coast Director of Lifesaving Cheryl McCarthy said the Lifesavers team assisted emergency services to the best of their ability, “Everyone worked together so well and they were very thorough with the search,” Ms McCarthy said.
“We were able to utilise all our resources to help including when the helicopter had to return to base for refuelling, the UAV was able to take over with the aerial search until it could return.
“They were satisfied that we had completed all we could to assist with the search and their dive team was arriving on the scene,” she said.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said people visiting the coast should think before undertaking any activity. He cautioned that it’s especially important for activities that are year-on-year responsible for a high number of drownings like rock fishing, diving or boating.
“It’s so important if you’re planning on doing an activity in the ocean or on our coastline that you take precautions that include checking conditions before you go via www.beachsafe.org.au, telling someone when and where you’re going and equipping yourself with all the correct safety gear.”
In 2018/19 there were 44 coastal drowning deaths. Rock fishing accounted for eight deaths, followed by five caused by diving and snorkelling.