Authorities say three men died after entering the choppy water off Northern California to dive for abalone.

Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Sally Swan says the men were among a group of five divers who went searching for the prized mollusks Sunday afternoon when they found themselves in rough seas.

She said the bodies of two divers were pulled from the water and two others were rescued from the rocks in Caspar Cove. A third deceased diver was found about 3 ½ hours later in a rocky inlet near the open water.

The men were the first casualties of this year's abalone season, which began nearly two weeks ago.