A diver who died while pulling a craypot with friends near Dunsborough on Sunday was a professional fisherman with decades of experience, his mother said yesterday.
Ida Curtois, of Geraldton, said friends and colleagues were shocked by the freak accident that killed Paul Grant Curtois, 46, as he tried to retrieve a pot from about 6m. It is believed he hit his head on the boat's propeller.
Ms Curtois, a former disability worker and foster carer of the year, became known nationally in 2011 for her fight to free prisoner Marlon Noble, who spent 10 years in jail without trial because he had an intellectual disability.
Mr Curtois was one of her four children and leaves behind an 18-year-old son.
"I spoke to Paul on Sunday morning and he was so happy, he was like a kid at Christmas anticipating what a great day he was going to have with his mate out on the boat," she said.
"He was staying for a long weekend with a mate he hadn't seen since childhood."
Ms Curtois said her son had fished most of his adult life off Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands.
"No one who knew Paul and his skills can believe he came up under a boat," she said. "He's retrieved snagged craypots hundreds of times.
"It must have been a freak accident but it feels better knowing he was doing what he loved."
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.