Diving in Bay of Fundy to find lost fishers presents challenges: industry veteran

Members of a ground search and rescue team walk along the shore of the Bay of Fundy in Hillsburn, N.S. on Dec. 16, 2020, as they continue to look for five fishermen missing after the scallop dragger Chief William Saulis sank in the Bay of Fundy. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

A veteran of Nova Scotia's diving industry says the tides and depth of the Bay of Fundy would present challenges for the recovery of bodies, if the wreck of a scallop dragger that sank last month can be located.

Shawn MacPhail, the operations manager of Dominion Diving Ltd. of Dartmouth, N.S., said in an interview Monday that opposing currents and tides on the bay often make it "a very tricky place to conduct any diving."

The firm has conducted multiple diving operations near the mouth of the bay and has used its remotely operated undersea vehicles, or ROVs, at locations around the region.

Since the sudden Dec. 15 sinking of the Chief William Saulis, the body of one crew member, Michael Drake, has been found along the coast north of Digby, but crew members Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes and Geno Francis and captain Charles Roberts are still missing.

Cogswell's mother has said she hopes that police and federal agencies can locate and return the body of her son if he's still aboard the sunken boat.

A spokesman for the RCMP said that sonar work was being carried out on Monday to attempt to locate the vessel, which the Transportation Safety Board has estimated went down in waters about 61 metres deep, roughly 4.8 kilometres off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia.