2012-08-05 Field Report
Last Sunday we went back to the area just outside of the LA Harbor lighthouse where we located massive amounts of debris that need to be removed. It was a nice morning and the seas were pretty flat, with no more than 1 to 2 foot waves; ideal for us to be able to track the divers by seeing their bubble trails.
Last week, Steve Millington and Andy The surveyed the area to determine the rough boundaries of the reef structure. This allows us to go out and find abandoned marine debris in the area with good (spell that time-saving) accuracy.
We had several last minute cancellations, but luckily volunteers Chris Bell and Al Laubenstein were up to the task—and served as our lone dive team. They headed down at 9:29am, and 40 minutes later surfaced about 200 feet from the Clearwater. They didn't send any lift bags to the surface, so I was apprehensive that they didn't find anything.
But as they got closer to the boat, I could see they had junk in their hands. It turned out to be trap remnants and about 150 feet of polypropylene line. Not a voluminous haul, but not bad either!
We then moved the boat about 200 feet east and after a one hour surface interval (mandatory between-dive break) Al and Chris headed back down. By this time the seas were picking up and the wind started a hard blow; white caps were obscuring our ability to see the diver's bubbles. After 30 minutes we saw a lift bag come to the surface, shortly after that Al surfaced.
We quickly pulled up anchor and headed to retrieve Al. As we approached we could see that Chris was hanging on to the lift bag and was just below the surface. As they swam toward the boat we could all see that they had a significant amount of debris. Boat crew Jim Lieber and John Krieger started hauling it aboard.
It turned out to be a huge tangle of polypropylene line. Even as Chris handed them the enormous bundle, he said there was a lot more...and it went all the way down to the bottom, which was at 63 feet. After the deck crew got the deadly lines onto the deck, Al and Chris informed us they found a lot of line but didn't see any traps. Steve and Andy told us they saw at least 4 traps here last week, so ODA's search will continue.
These lines are not only lethal for the whales that get entangled in them, they are lethal to gorgonians (a type of sea fan, and yes they are animals not plants). When the line wraps around the gorgonian, toxins leach from the line into the animal and kill it over time: a fate no life form should suffer.
All told we successfully removed over 1,000 feet of the poly line and some trap remnants. It feels great to know that no more animals will suffer slow, painful deaths from this debris—and sobering to think of all the work that remains to be done.
We had a great crew with us today: Chris Bell, John Krieger, Jim Lieber, Jeff and Sue Shaw. Thanks to all for donating your time and efforts to help us clean up our own underwater backyard.
To our supporters: Please know that ODA will continue the important work of defending marine life. It is your financial support that allows us to fuel our engines and making a real impact.
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