Marine Biologist and Diving Tour Owner Believed to be Victim of Boat Fire

Marine Biologist and Diving Tour Owner Believed to be Victim of Boat Fire title=
Marine Biologist and Diving Tour Owner Believed to be Victim of Boat Fire
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Photo: Facebook

By edhat staff

Marine biologist, owner of a California-based diving company, and UC Santa Barbara alum Kristy Finstad is believed to be one of the boat fire victims, according to a family member.

Finstad's brother, Brett Harmeling, posted on Facebook Monday night, "please pray for my sister Kristy!! She was leading a dive trip on this boat."

Finstad, her father Bill, and her husband Dan Chua are listed as owners and operators of Worldwide Diving Adventures based in Santa Cruz, California.

Worldwide Diving Adventures listed a three-day holiday weekend exploration to Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura aboard Conception. The liveaboard diving tour was advertised as a $665-per-person chance to see octopi, colorful anemones, crabs, halibut, wolf eels and bioluminescent zooplankton in the waters around the Channel Islands.

(Photo: Kristy Finstad and Dan Chua / Facebook)

Finstad, 41, was among the divers helping to lead the expedition aboard the Conception, which caught fire early Monday morning leaving 25 people dead and 9 missing. Her Facebook profile lists she received a Bachelor's Degree in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara 

“We’re still waiting to hear, unfortunately. It’s not looking good,” Harmeling, 31, told NY Daily News. “She’d be the person who could make it if it’s possible. She could hold her breath for an insane amount of time. It just doesn’t sound like there was a chance for anyone to get out,” he said.

Finstad and Chua organized the trip together through Worldwide Diving Adventures but Chua was leading a separate dive group in Costa Rica at the time of the incident. The company was started by Bill Finstad, described as one of the world's first SCUBA instructors, in 1972. Kristy took over the family operation after her father retired. In 2004 she became a NAUI instructor and her husband Dan Chua got his US Coast Guard Captain’s license. 

Harmeling said his sister likely wouldn’t be considered a crew member because she didn’t work for the boat’s operator, reports the NY Daily News.

He described Finstad as a free spirit who's really in touch with nature and has been diving almost as long as she's been walking.

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 September 2, 2019: Four Bodies Recovered, 30 Still Missing in Boat Fire

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