Nova Scotia

Video of teen swimming near deadly Peggys Cove rocks worries lifeguard service

A video posted to Facebook showing someone swimming off the dangerous black rocks at Nova Scotia's Peggys Cove is drawing concern, given the site's long history of drownings. 

'There's more drownings there than anywhere else in Nova Scotia'

The teenager was spotted in the waters off Peggys Cove, N.S., on Sunday afternoon. (Submitted by Karen Boggs)

A video posted to Facebook showing someone swimming off the dangerous black rocks at Nova Scotia's Peggys Cove is drawing concern, given the site's long history of drownings.

The video was taken Sunday at around 3:30 p.m. Karen Boggs was at the iconic lighthouse with her family and filmed what looked to be a teenage boy in the water as three adults, who appeared to be with him, watched from shore.

Boggs said she zoomed in on her phone and was too far away from the family to shout. She said she wasn't wearing proper footwear to try to climb closer and she had her own children to keep an eye on along the rocky shore. 

"We visit there often," Boggs said via text message. "We always see people on the wet/black rocks, but this was a first for someone getting in the water. There are signs posted everywhere."

Boggs said she believes the boy was able to make it out of the water on his own. She said she later noticed a Canadian Coast Guard vessel that appeared to be searching the shoreline, but she wasn't sure who called it.

Paul D'Eon, the director of the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service, said more people drown at Peggys Cove than anywhere else in the province.

In 2016, a woman from Quebec died after being washed into the water. The year prior, 25-year-old Jamie Quattrocchi from Ontario died when he was swept into the ocean.

"We've been doing drowning data since probably the early '80s and the single site where the most drownings have occurred in Nova Scotia is indeed Peggys Cove," said D'Eon.

"I mean, we're in the North Atlantic and, you know, what can be very calm and safe on one day can be very dangerous the next."

42 warning signs

The water appears calm in Boggs's video, but D'Eon said there's no guarantee it is safe at that spot since the sea state can change quickly.

D'Eon said the waves at Peggy's draw people out and can then slam them on the rocks, when the waves return.  

"I don't want people to go in that water when there's waves because it is treacherous," he said.

"I have some of my surf guards that have gone out there and ask them — you know, these are the top lifeguards in the province — 'Would you go in there?' And they said, 'No, we would not. It's not safe for us even to go in there.' And these are people that are tremendously skilled."

D'Eon said for a few years in the 1990s, there were "rock patrollers" who had whistles and would monitor the shoreline and talk to people who got too close to the slippery black rocks. 

The program was scrapped, he said, although he wasn't involved in the decision to do so.

There are currently 42 signs around Peggys Cove warning of the dangers. D'Eon said the signs use pictograms to show the danger so it's clear in any language that the rough seas around the rocks could be dangerous.

D'Eon said there are many supervised beaches that are safe for swimming along Nova Scotia's coast but warns those beaches will once again be unsupervised after Labour Day weekend.

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