By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
As we usher in springtime, I’d like to share with you some of the diverse activities your ODA team has accomplished recently—despite the fact that we’ve been land-locked. You see: The storm-tossed seas have prevented our main boat, Mr. Barker’s LegaSea, from being able to go out. This is one of our biggest obstacles regardless of the time of year. The roiling ocean creates an operational hazard by restricting our ability to safely remove marine debris with our fabulous boats and divers. The active waters cause trouble both above (rocking-and-rolling boat) and below (low underwater visibility).
But have no fear! Your ocean defenders are (still) here! :-)
The winter storms delivered tons of water to our dehydrated landscape, while at the same time delivering mountains of plastic trash to our estuaries, wetlands, and beaches. We organized several Shoreline and Harbor Cleanups to remove this deadly marine debris before it could make its way into the oceans, capturing and recycling it so it could not wreak havoc on the marine environment for hundreds of years.
Volunteers Shine as they Speak for the Oceans
We’ve also been very active doing public presentations. Longtime ODA volunteers Kevin Augarten and Jeff Larson—who usually are on our expert dive team helping ODA rid our coastal waters of nets and traps—have teamed up to do some presentations in Ventura County.
In November, they gave a well-received talk to the Channel Islands Dive Club. There were about 35 people in attendance.
They gave another presentation to the Channel Islands Maritime Museum on January 18th. Roughly 25 people were in attendance, including Kim Cardenas (who we just added to our Advisory Board). Kevin and Jeff had such a good and enthusiastic response that they’ve “got the bug” and want to do more!
So, if you know of any groups in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area that want to learn more about ODA and the issues around marine debris, drop us a line and we’ll make it happen!
So Cal Outreach
Meanwhile back in Orange County, I was invited to speak to the Balboa Yacht Club. Before my talk started, I was seated at a table having dinner with a few of the club members. As we introduced ourselves, I found myself to be in the company of people I don’t normally come in contact with: a doctor, a lawyer, and a judge.
I could sense that this was going to be a thoughtful crowd.
There were about 35 people there. After my presentation, there was a question and answer period which usually lasts for 10 minutes, but this was different. They not only wanted to know about ODA’s history and goals, but also about our current efforts to tackle the plastic plague issue. This lasted for nearly an hour! Talk about an engaged audience! They were great.
One of the people introduced himself to me afterwards. His name is Doug West, and he is one of the seven members that make up the Newport Beach Harbor Commission. SCORE! I’ve been trying to find the right person to talk to; someone who would know how to get ODA divers permission to get into the harbor and do some underwater cleanups like we’ve done in Channel Islands Harbor. Doug asked me if I would be willing to go to a Harbor Commission meeting and present to them. You betcha’ mister! J
So, on March 8th, there I was in the Newport Beach City Hall.
I showed a 15-minute video about our underwater work. The commissioners asked a few questions afterwards and said that they felt it would be a great idea to get us to start cleaning up some of the habitat under the docks and launch ramps.
Thank you to the following people for attending this meeting and showing your interest and support of ODA: Linda Nicholes, Dr. Ed Watson, Mikelle Watson, Walter Marti, Linda Blanchard, Bill Maley, and Jim McKeeman! And thanks to Doug West for helping make it happen!
Citizen Scientists in Long Beach Awesome and ODA Volunteers
One of our dedicated dive volunteers, Dave Merrill, also volunteers at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, CA. He found out that the aquarium was having a conference seminar that was designed to allow different groups to show how they help advance public knowledge by engaging in what is known as “citizen science.” This is a process that allows the general public to gather scientific data that the researchers and scientists can then use in scientific reports.
Dave approached the lead organizer of the event, Jennifer Lentz, PhD, and asked if she thought ODA would be an appropriate addition to their panel. She was delighted to add us.
So on February 23rd, Dave and I attended, and I gave a 6-minute talk about what we do and how we add information to the database of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W)—especially regarding the abandoned traps and nets we find.
Because of time constraints, there was no Q&A afterwards, but several people have asked Dave and I how they can get involved. Thanks for putting that together Dave!
On March 5th, Cheryl McCarthy and her hubby Marc hosted an information table at the annual Dana Point Whale Festival. It started out as a wonderful sunny day, but a downpour ensued just after noon.
Although they did get soaked, it didn’t dampen their enthusiasm, and we had many people make donations and sign up to be on our email update list. Many thanks Cheryl and Marc!
Onward and Upward (and lobster season ended on March 22nd)!
With the end of the legal hunting season finally here, we can get back to doing what we do best: locating and removing abandoned commercial lobster traps (and lines and nets). Because of the strong rains we’ve had, there was a lot of damage to our boat, Mr. Barker’s LegaSea.Super ODA Volunteer Jeff Connor and I have been constantly working to fix these (mostly) electrical problems. We finally think we have all the issues corrected and are planning to dive next weekend. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jeff for his incredible, consistent, and long-term dedication to ODA.
Thanks also go out to all the people who attended our various presentations, for making donations, and for signing up for our email lists. You have become a “member of the alliance” – and an invaluable asset to the oceans.
With spring upon us, we can now dive in to action!
More pictures below - check 'em out!