First death of lobster miniseason: 79-year-old snorkeler towed behind boat

The first South Florida death related to lobster miniseason involved a 79-year-old man who was being towed behind a boat.

The man, William Biddle of Temple Terrace, Florida, was snorkeling Wednesday at Bahia Honda State Park in search of lobster when he had “difficulty in the water and did not survive,’’ said Carol Lyn Parrish, public information coordinator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Parrish said Biddle was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon, where he was pronounced dead.

It was the lone death reported in South Florida as of Thursday afternoon, Parrish said. The two-day lobster miniseason ends at midnight Thursday.

Last year, a 60-year-old man from Little Torch Key died while diving for lobster on the Gulf side of Cudjoe Key.

Parrish said being pulled behind a boat, as Biddle was, “is a common thing folks can do in lobster season.’’

“We don’t know the cause of death,’’ she said. “We’ll have to wait for the medical examiner’s office to confirm all of that. The other subjects on the vessel tried to give him some assistance and they were unable to revive him.

“In this instance he was tethered by a rope behind the boat and they were operating at a very minimal speed, which will all be determined in the boating accident investigation.”