The highlight for BugFest-By-The-Sea (July 24-Aug. 1), a week-long series of fun events for divers, is Florida’s annual two-day lobster mini-season (July 29 & 30), when divers can catch spiny lobsters before the regular lobster season opens.

The Town’s annual dive festival was started in 2012 to help promote Lauderdale-By-The-Sea as a great dive destination for scuba divers all around the state.

In addition to prizes for catching the biggest lobsters, which divers call “bugs,” there are dive-related seminars, workshops, parties and a big lobster cookout.

It only costs $20 to take part in the Great Florida Bug Hunt, but divers get a free BugFest T-shirt and Reef Safe Goody Bag with about $35 worth of giveaways.

”BugFest is the only big event where we bring divers together to compete for $15,000 in prizes, cash and dive gear,” said Steve d’Oliveira, the Town’s Lobster-In-Chief. “It’s a fun event for residents too with our lobster cookout. The best part, of course, is that you don’t have to be a scuba diver to enjoy eating tasty lobster!”

The Town expects more than 300 divers from all over Florida to take part this year. The prizes will be awarded at the Lobster Chef Competition on July 30th.

Here are some of this year’s BugFest highlights:

Attend the BugFest kickoff party on July 25 at 7 p.m. in Anglin’s Square.

Learn all you need to know about hunting spiny lobster from Jim “Chiefy” Mathie, a retired Deerfield Beach firefighter who wrote a book on catching spiny lobster.

Take a one-day workshop with wreck diving legend John Chatterton, whose efforts to identify a German U-Boat off New Jersey were chronicled in the best-selling book Shadow Divers. In addition to the workshop, Chatterton will give a free presentation about Shadow Divers in Jarvis Hall on July 24th at 7 p.m.

Snorkel or dive the SS Copenhagen, a historic shipwreck off the Town.

Learn how to identify tropical fish when underwater photographer Lureen Ferretti offers her free fish identification seminar about the 20 most common reef fish.

Attend a free Scuba Cowboy concert at the BugFest barbecue on Aug. 1.

Bring your kids to Family Fun Day on Aug. 1 in El Prado Park, sponsored by BugFest in partnership with Stoked On Salt, a local ocean gear company.

A complete BugFest schedule is on the BugFest Website: