Slide background
Does this statistic bother you too?
Every year, more than 800,000 tons of commercial fishing gear is lost in our global oceans.

We don’t like it either. Want to know what we do about it?
Slide background
YOU are vital in the fight against marine debris
We have the boats and we know where to find ghost gear and dangerous debris. Your financial support will help us get there!
Slide background
Are you ready to “dive in” with ODA?
There are many ways you can help: from right where you are, or you can join us on a boat or beach.
Slide background
We are defenders of the ocean
ODA volunteers can be vastly different in age, backgrounds, skillsets, and interests. But we come together for one shared cause: To clean our oceans and make them safer for all life.

Ocean Defenders Alliance

Operating from ship and shore, ODA's all-volunteer boat and dive crews remove abandoned fishing nets, traps, lines, plastic, and other man-made debris threatening ocean wildlife and habitats.


Ocean Defenders Alliance

Operating from ship and shore, ODA's all-volunteer boat and dive crews remove abandoned fishing nets, traps, lines, plastic, and other man-made debris threatening ocean wildlife and habitats.


Crew and the Catch of the Day

Where we make a difference


ODA has two main geographical areas of operation. We have boats, divers, and onshore volunteers stationed in Southern California and the Hawaiian islands.



California has served as our homebase since ODA was founded in 2002. We remove debris of all kinds in the coastal waters and shorelines from San Diego to Ventura County.



The high-volume of ocean debris in Hawai’i is alarming. Since 2017, we’ve had boats and volunteers on the Big Island and Oahu cleaning debris from beaches and in the water.

You are needed!

sea otter

Fuel ODA's boats, and sustain our efforts to clean our oceans.

crew on boat

Dive in with us - on our boats, on shore, and from home.


You want to know the latest & how to help: sign up now!

By Captain Dave Merrill

Our flagship Mr. Barker’s LegaSea headed out of Oxnard harbor for our usual hunting of abandoned lobster traps on Sunday, July 3rd, 2022.

Volunteer debris removal crew

The legal lobster fishing season had ended March 16th, so there shouldn’t be any active traps. See our last report California Ocean Defenders Free Trapped Animals showing how abandoned traps still catch marine life.

The weather forecast predicted 3-to-5-foot swells with winds increasing to 25 knots by afternoon. Typical Southern California summer conditions.

On board were three divers: Geoff Walsh, Mike Wynd, and new to the crew, Sagi. The deck crew was Jeff Connor, Sue St. Sure, and Merlita, with me, Dave Merrill handling the captain’s duties.

 Divers and RIB driver

Just outside Oxnard harbor, we scanned the bottom for the Little Joe wreck but couldn’t find anything according to the GPS coordinates that had been given to us. So off we went to the Kopco Star, a wreck we had dived previously.

The Kopco Star was a kelp harvester built at Terminal Island (San Pedro) in 1952 and measured 51.6’ long, 27.3 in the beam, 4.8 in-depth, and powered by four diesel engines with a rating of 900 horsepower. It was owned by the Kopco Star Company of Los Angeles and was a kelpcutter that operated out of the Kopco kelp processing facility in Pt. Hueneme (Ventura County) harvesting kelp from Point Hueneme to Point Conception. On Tuesday, October 1, 1963, at around 10:00 pm the Kopco Star listed to port shortly after taking on a heavy load of kelp. It sunk about six miles offshore from Pt. Hueneme.

Back to present day!

sea grape exampleOur divers had a very nice dive on the Kopco Star for the first and only dive. Visibility was limited in part due to so many salp (also known as sea grapes), plus some small jellyfish. On the wreck there was generally 20–25-foot visibility. More sea life there than has been seen before, with really big (four-foot-plus) bass. The Kopco Star is a very pretty wreck.

Mike, on his rebreather dived first as his gear allows him more time underwater, ran a line to the wreck which Geoff and Sagi followed when they entered the water.

ODA Divers in water

Mike had already located an abandoned lobster trap!

Geoff with whale-entangling trap lineSo, he rigged the trap up a lift bag, and when Geoff and Sagi got there, Geoff filled the bag with air, added another lift bag for good measure (i.e., extra pull), and shot it to the surface.

We looked around for a few more minutes but that was the only trap in the area.

Sagi and Geoff also picked up some long trap line (80ish feet) which Mike had cut. This is the type of line that’s so dangerous to passing whales.

The divers then headed to the surface where the conditions by then were a bit on the rough side, but it was by far the best dive we've had in several outings. The divers agreed one dive would have to do as the swell was building, and wind increasing even further.

Merlita with recovered trapSue and Jeff retrieved the trap with the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and had it on deck by the time Geoff and Sagi surfaced.

Mike surfaced not too much later, and with 3 moderately seasick deck crew, we headed back to port. We dropped off the trap and line at a fisherman’s dock. Then we headed back to the dock to wash things up.

Note from Captain Kurt: Thank you to Captain Dave and the So Cal Crew for keeping things going the minute the seas would allow as they’ve been so rough all spring and early summer. Our Hawai’i crews are busy with multiple outings, so stay tuned for those reports soon!

ODA's Articles

Read about ODA's actions and events in California, Hawaii, and elsewhere.

Arch Rock Waters Give Up Multiple Abandoned Lobster Traps

Fishing isn’t allowed in these protected waters, but traps are often set right around the edges of the no-trap zone, so we dive in to pull them out!

Crew Chronicles – Kim Cardenas diver – California

Kim is the perfect volunteer! She's skilled, she cares, and she shows up! We really appreciate all of her time and efforts to help make the oceans safer for wildlife and their habitats...

Tenth Cleanup at Honokohau Harbor Yields More Than Half-a-Ton of Debris

Once we adopt a site, we don't forget about it! We are really invested in keeping these harbor waters clean as you can tell because this is our TENTH cleanup here!

A Tribute to Mr. Bob Barker

Sadly, Mr. Bob Barker passed away on August 26, 2023, at the age of 99. Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) has a lot to be thankful for as Mr. Barker not only supported ODA generously in our operations...

ODA Hauls Out Record Number of Traps at Anacapa Island

Because of turbulent waters this winter, we knew that a lot of fishermen had lost a high number of traps. We returned to an area we know is highly fished, and boy, did that pay off...

Report Ocean Debris

If you see ocean debris please let us know right away! Visit our Debris Report page.