Below are some of the highlights (work in progress as we review notes) from ODA's acitivities in 2011. Thank You to all the wonderul men and women who make ODA's mission possible!! See you in 2012!
DIRECT ACTION RESTORATION ACTIVITIES
-Removed approx. 1,000 pounds of net from the Infide wreckl off Catalina Island, as part of our continuing project at this 150-feet deep site.
-Removed over 1,500 pounds of net from the Old Marineland Platform.
-Removed about 1,500 pounds of net from Los Coronado Island, Mexico. This gained ODA a lot of media exposure. Local affiliates from ABC, CBS and NBC covered the story. So did the San Diego Tribune and the North County Times. A local radio station interviewed me, which lead to a call from Truluck's, a sustainable seafood restaurant enterprise,contacting me and making ODA the beneficiary of their annual donation to a local non-profit (see below for more info).
-In April and May we started surveying a new wreck site for possible net removal. The "Jenny Lynne" is a commercial fishing boat that lies in 150-feet of water off the coast of Palos Verde. This is a large site and is draped in lost nets. It is a difficult place to dive not only because of the depth, but visibility is notoriously bad here, with currents an issue as well. We managed to get some video of the site and when conditions are favorable we will attempt to remove the thousands of pound of net that are smothering the habitat in 2012.
-Continue our restoration work on the African Queen. This is a rather small wreck that has a lot of net encasing it, both gill net and squid net. The gill net is made of mono-filament line, which renders is virtually invisible to marine wildlife, of which we have safely removed from the net to live another day. We have removed hundreds of pounds of net from this site. As if diving this area is not challenging enough due to poor visibility, it lies directly in the middle of the Long Beach shipping channel. We have to work in close collaboration with the Vessel Traffic System (VTS) to ensure we don't get run over by one of those huge ships!
-We're proud to report tha the site of the Olympic wreck, which we have painstakingly restored over the years, is now 95% cleaned of nets thanks to ODA's efforts. There used several large lost nets on this artificial reef, and as a consequence almost no large fish were able to utilize the habitat before our restoration work. On a recent follow-up dive, ODA was pleasantly surprised to see several dozens of very large ling cod.
-Surveyed a newly sunk fishing boat, "Midnight Hour", off of west end of Catalina Island. Luckily this boat had its fishing net wound up on the spool, so it isn't causing immediate damage to the reef. But it will unravel over time and become a problem. We are keeping our eye on it and hope people will send us updated reports on its condition.
-Surveyed Pt. Vicente SMCA, an area that will become a MPA in January 2012, analyzing marine debris that can be removed within safe depths – plenty discovered. This is going to be an MPA come January 2012 and ODA's restoration work there should remain long-lasting.
-ODA dealt calmly with another major boat breakdown over the summer - our Flagship, the Clearwater, cracked a piston in one of her aging diesel engines. We first thought this was going to cost a minor fortune and take a long while to fix or replace the engine, but fortunately, our dedicated team of boat engineers were able to fix the problem in short time and low cost. Thank you Team!
-ODA performed dive and/or boat maintenance activities nearly every week of 2011. As our Flagship and her engines approache 40 years old, keeping the boat properly running is a program within itself. While most scheduled dive days resulted in either a valuable survey and/or actual restoration (removal of nets, traps and lines), some schedule dive days were quickly scubbed or severly hampered due to unfriendly sea conditions or bad underwater visibily.ODA makes best efforts to utlize our volunteer dive and boat crews' time, but we all agree that SAFETY always comes first!
Outreach, Education, Public Relations and Fundraising
In May, Patagonia invited a handful of local grassroots enviro orgs, including ODA, to participate in a unique fundraising contest at their Santa Monica store called "Voice Your Choice"d. Each participating org was provided an exhibit table in the Santa Monica store for a 2 day weekend, where we talked with their customers about our programs. The customers were then asked to vote for their favorite org. ODA won first place in Santa Monica and received a check for $3,500! Thanks to Heather Hamza, Alex Chalit and Jim Lieber for their help!
-Kurt and Scott Sheckman attended the 3rd Blue Vision Summit held Washington DC, which attracts numerous institutional and grassroots marine conservation organization from all around the nation and world. There we met with our peers to discuss best practices and positive visions for the future of marine resource management.
-ODA provided 16 presentations to dive clubs, civic groups and conservation organizations. One to the American Cetacean Society (Orange County and Los Angeles), and another to the Sierra Club of South Orange County.
-Kurt provided in-depth presentations to several grade schools. Two in particular stood out, one in Palos Verde and the other in Irvine. Each one was held in their auditorium, with about 300 kids in attendance at each one.
-ODA had a booth at the annual Scuba Show in Long Beach. Captain Alex Cornellison (of Sea Shepherd "Whale Wars" fame) helped out at our booth. World-renowned marine artist Wyland stopped by to voice his support. For the first time, two of our divers (Peter and Trevor Fulks) entered a video about ODA into the show's video contest.
-ODA is working with one of our state congressmen to get a bill introduced that would make it mandatory for the insurance companies to remove boats that are intentionally sunk. Right now they just pay off the owner and let it stay underwater while it pollutes the ocean.
-Kurt attended the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in April. Kurt met with several officials from NOAA, and with many more people who are tackling the problem of marine debris throughout the world. Those contacts will prove invaluable in the coming years, as ODA positions itself to be a leader in the removal of this ghost gear.
-Kurt met with several professors at Scripps Institute of Oceanography to discuss a possible collaboration with the university students and ODA. The goal is to provide an on the water platform from which students will be able to conduct studies that will shed light on the damage that derelict fishing gear causes.
-Scott Sheckman attended the annual DEMA Show, this year in Orlando near his new home South Florida. The DEMA (dive) show, the world's largest, attracts manufacturers, vendors, and marine experts from all around the globe. Scott met several potential new partners and supporters.
-On September 17th, ODA participated in Scott Cassell's historic 30 Mile Dive from Catalina to San Pedro. This would have been a word record, and his strategy was to get the press interested in this record, but Scott's main agenda was to raise public awareness about the rapid decline of sharks throughout the world's oceans. Unfortunately he was not able to set a world record due to mechanical failure of his diving gear, however, his attempt made international news. ODA participated by using the Clearwater as a support vessel. Cassell's organization (Undersea Voyager Project) paid for our expenses, and we were thrilled to be a part of this worthy endeavor
-Truluck's, an upscale sustainable seafood restaurant franchise, sponsored a mini-fundraiser at their La Jolla location in October, raising approximately $4,000 for ODA! Kurt and Scott attended and provided a brief presentation to the audience of about 50 people which included a few long-time ODA supporters from the local area. Truluck's manager heard Kurt discussing ODA and the issues during a radio program and realized the great synergy.
-Scott Sheckman attended a Lion Fish removal workshop hosted by REEF (a sister nonprofit org) in Miami, Florida. Lion Fish are one of the most problematice invasive species in the Eastern Atlantic. They have no natural predators, breed at an alarming rate, and are able to easily sneek up and eat fish up to half their size! Scott is working on creating an adopt-a-reef program in Broward County where specially trained divers will routinely remove Lion Fish (which are relatively easy to trap, albeit dangerous to handle due to venemous spines) from a plagued tropical reefs.
-ODA continues to maintain and seek new funding from a wide variety of donors, including outstanding members of the community and foundations. We appreciate each and every dollar and in-kind gift, as well as all the time & effort provided by our die-hard volunteer divers and boat operators/engineers. General marketing, fundraising, grant writing and reporting takes considerable time and effort, and we are doing our best to increase our funding so we can be more effective on the water and via outreach & education. Thank you all for making ODA's lifesaving mission possible! For a complete list of our donors, please visit our Supporter Page.
AND MUCH MUCH MORE! Please visit our Status and Field Reports Page for additional details and images from many of the expeditions and activities noted above. Thanks for another great year!!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS & NEW YEAR!
Founder & President
Acting Executive Director