Ocean Defenders Alliance
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How We Work

3 Divers cutting away

With the endorsement of the California Department of Fish & Game as well as local authorities, ODA's dedicated team of technical divers are hard at work, seeking to make coastal waters safer and cleaner for marine wildlife - as well as humans - by permanently removing ocean debris and checking for illegal fishing activities.

Planning the Dives

ODA has a large network of divers and other community supporters who contact us and report locations of abandoned fishing gear and sunken vessels. We are also well informed about sites that are routinely visited by commercial fishermen, and too often plagued by derelict gear.

After compiling the locations, we strategically plan our dive routes and schedules and reach out to our volunteer divers to plan the excursions.

ClearwaterThe Work Boat

Our vessel, the 40-foot former Canadian Coast Guard patrol boat Clearwater, is outfitted to support our ocean cleanup expeditions and volunteer crews.  In addition to the basics such as a small bunk area and a very modest galley, we have fitted this vessel with equipment for our particular working needs. We have a platform from which the divers safely enter and exit the water. On the stern (rear) of the boat, we installed a davit (which is a pulley system connected to a windlass electric motor) through which we run a strong rope to haul up recovered debris onto the deck. Additionally, we have a 10-foot motorized, rubber smallcraft that is essential for retrieving divers and debris from target areas during rough seas.

The Dive and Haul Process

When we reach our target area, ODA divers "buddy up," perform a series of safety checks, and coordinate their dive plans before entering the water. Once at the underwater site, divers assess the situation and carefully work to free living animals from the traps, nets, etc. Dead animals are also released into the ocean because they serve as food for other marine life.

After this liberation process, the divers attach a float bag to the debris, which gently lifts the mass of man-made waste to the surface. When the boat crew sees the float bag emerge on the surface, and the divers are safely aboard, the vessel is repositioned and the deadly garbage hauled onto the deck.

Once everyone is back on the boat, ODA performs an initial sorting of the debris. We recycle as much of the debris as possible, and ensure proper disposal of the rest. Before releasing this ocean trash from our possession, we thoroughly document it for our records-capturing type, amount/weight, recovery locations, and photographs of it.

Divers lifting trapA Proud Bundle

Diversified Activities

In addition to cleaning the oceans, ODA assists the California Department of Fish and Game with some aspects of their studies of populations of fish and invertebrates. We have good relationships with the Coast Guard and other government agencies, and seek to collaborate/partner with them whenever there is real and positive work to be done to mend our oceans.

We believe it is important to educate communities about the importance of our oceans, so we send representatives to schools, dive clubs, and other groups/events to give presentations on the state of the oceans, the work we do, and how they can support or even join our efforts.

ODA also reaches out to fishermen, restaurants, and the seafood community to enlighten them to relevant issues and seek to gain their commitment to becoming better ocean stewards.

Start Locally, Expanding Strategically

Our goal is to cleanup our own "backyard"-from San Pedro to San Clemente-first, and gradually expand to other areas on the California Coast, including San Diego and Ventura Counties. Learn more about our Backyard Cleanup Campaign.

We know that every coastline exposed to commercial fishing needs this same attention, and we plan to expand as extensively as ODA's budgets and resources will allow. With your support, this work is possible. Please make a tax-deductible donation today! 

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Thank You.

Crew hauling net onto stern

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Ocean Defenders Alliance

We Defend Marine Life

ODA eliminates dangerous man-made debris which pose serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitats.