Four Nova Scotians who set out in heavy seas to search for the Miss Ally after the fishing boat capsized in February, claiming five lives, have been awarded provincial medals of bravery.

The Nova Scotia government said Thomas Hennigar, Donald Mahaney, Thomas Nickerson and Gary Thurber spent 30 hours trying to find the 13-metre vessel and dove beneath its hull after it went down in a storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Miss Ally, based in Woods Harbour, was on a trip to catch halibut off southwestern Nova Scotia when its emergency locator beacon transmitted a distress call via satellite late on Feb. 17.

The bodies of the five crew members were never found, but the government says the heroic actions of the four divers have provided loved ones with answers on what happened that night.

"It's hard to keep the tears out of my eyes," said George Hopkins, father to Joel Hopkins, a crew member on the Miss Ally.

"I'm just proud of them. They know that. I've gone up to every one individually so they know that by now. I've thanked them a thousand times and that's probably not enough."

Hennigar, Mahaney, Nickerson and Thurber are among seven recipients of this year's medals of bravery, which are awarded to Nova Scotians who risk their lives or safety to help others.

This year's recipients also include Aiden Brunn of Martins River and Patrick May of Maplewood, who responded to the scene of a fiery two-vehicle crash in March, and Robert Henderson of Springhill, who helped rescue a neighbour from her burning home in November 2012.