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News and Media

News and Media

Editor's Note: Please be sure to visit the photo gallery after you read about this special member of our team -- we have so many great photos of him as he volunteers for debris-free seas!

Dave has been volunteering with us for almost 10 years now! He brings a wealth of knowledge about the oceans, from the critters who call it home to how to captain a vessel.

Dave Merrill ready to dive and recover ghost gear

We’re also fortunate that Dave’s lovely wife Jean joins us on many cleanup outings. Jean is a retired schoolteacher and brings a lot of enthusiasm to our land-based cleanups.  She’s a delight to be with.

Dave and Jean on a refuge cleanup

ODA Founder and President Kurt Lieber enthusiastically shared, “It's hard to state how invaluable Dave is to the ODA team. He's a dive instructor who does whatever it takes to make our outings successful. From diving to deck support to handling the RIB to joining us on our wetlands cleanups. He is there for it all. Whatever it takes, indeed!”

Dave and Kurt hauled up a trap

We asked Dave some questions about his experience with ODA

Q: How did you first hear of ODA? 
Dave: “In an issue of a Boating Magazine in late 2014, I read a short piece on ODA. Since I was about to retire and wanted to volunteer with an ocean related organization, I contacted Kurt who invited me to join him and the team.”

Dave suiting up to dive on debris

Q: What are your favorite ODA expeditions?
Dave: “My favorite trips are those to the Channel Islands off our Southern California coast. The underwater visibility is generally better than that along the coast.”

Dave in water

Q: Do you have any funny stories of your adventures with ODA?
Dave: “Several years ago, while we were diving off Catalina Island, the water level in the  bilge became worrisome. There is a small space entered from the cockpit where a bilge pump is located. It wasn't working but fortunately we had a spare on board. For reasons that escape me, I, the oldest member on board, had to crouch in the space, and rewire the new pump. It all worked out in the end – although I was pretty stiff for a while!” [Note to Reader: You can see why we love Dave with that attitude!]

Dave Merrill releases Sheep Crab

Q: Why do you like volunteering with ODA? 
Dave: “The ocean is my first love for an environment, having been in the water since I was quite young. Knowing that ODA is helping to clean up the seas and beaches gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Of course, getting out on the ocean for a day is really fun!”

Dave and the RIB crew

Q: We think it’s pretty cool that your wife, Jean, also volunteers with ODA.
Dave: “Jean is a huge fan of the ocean. While she doesn't dive, she volunteers for all the onshore cleanups that ODA organizes. We also do beach cleanups with the Long Beach Aquarium and on our own at a Southern California beach.”

Dave and Jean doing the hard work of picking up trashDave and Jean doing the hard work of picking up trash. Thank you, Dave and Jean, for your outstanding volunteerism! You are an inspiration to us all and you’re truly making a positive difference for the ocean and the critters who call it home.

If you’re impressed with Dave and Jean’s commitment to debris-free seas, we understand because we are, too! We’re always looking for additional ocean-lovers to join in the cleanup efforts. Email us at and tell us how you can help!