By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
Strong winds and big waves continue to pound our California coastline. I’ve been hearing from some of the fishermen that we work with that they are losing hundreds of traps.
I had that in mind when I gave a presentation to the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Dive Club on February 1st.
I had never presented to this club before, and it was a nice change for me to hear about so many young people experiencing scuba diving for the first time.
As soon as I finished the talk and asked if anyone had any questions, the response was like nothing I’ve gotten in a long time. These young adults wanted to learn more about ODA’s history but also how they can help.
One way they can help that I told them about was to report lost gear to us, using our online reporting system (see our Debris Report page). Several of them said that they had seen some abandoned traps washed-up on a nearby beach, and wanted to know if we could form a “trap retrieval party” and go get them?
Two days later, I drove our ODA support truck up to a town called Goleta, which is on the north side of Santa Barbara. We met up in a residential area which had access to a huge nature reserve that runs parallel to the beach.
I met up with Maddie Cunningham, Stuart Jaeger, Marina Stuilova, and Orion von Rohr. Marina is the dive club president and Maddie is their social media coordinator.
It was a long walk from our cars to the beach, and once we got to the bluffs, it was a long walk down a rutted gulley to actually get on the beach itself. It was a struggle for me, but the others made it look like it was a day at the park!
Once we got to scout the area, we decided to head south along the coast. It didn’t take us long to spot the first lobster trap. We then move about 100 yards more and found another one. This one was washed up on the cliffs.
We kept on going along the beach and found another one. We also found a tire and several rusting chunks of metal that we wanted to get out of that beautiful natural area.
It was getting dark by then and the tide was set to come back in. So, we piled the two traps on the hand cart we had brought along, and carried the rest of the debris by hand to the gulley.
We had to make several trips up and down that rutted trail but finally got all the stuff to the top of the bluff where we posed for this picture, and I had a chance to catch my breath. While I was recovering, they were laughing, singing, and dancing. Oh, to be young again…
We then made the trek back to the cars and loaded our “Catch of the Day” onto the truck.
In all we removed three traps, one tire, and about 200 pounds of other man-made debris.
Not bad for our first outing! Thanks Marina, Addie, Stu and Orion. I think this is going to lead to more good hauls!
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