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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

You’ve been hearing about record numbers of whales entangled each year.

You know derelict nets, lines, and traps (“ghost gear”) remain a massive and deadly issue.

…so what can you do to make a difference?

Laguna trap line

Well, I’m here to tell you that all is not lost!  ODA’s volunteer base is still here, and we’re expanding our life-saving work into new areas of California and Hawai’i.

Chin up! To help “inoculate” the whales against entanglement (because prevention really is the best medicine!) we've started a new project called Trap Trackers.  We’ve already started documenting a variety of areas along the west coast of California where there are high densities of fishing gear—especially traps.  Since so many endangered species are being caught in derelict commercial fishing gear, we are conducting citizen science to help you—as well as a variety of government and university representatives—gain a better understanding of the “how, where, and why” of the intersection of whales and fishing gear.

The Dungeness crab and lobster fisheries operate along most of the coast of California, and, as documented by NOAA, it's this gear that is confirmed responsible for 60% of whale entanglements.

So, ODA has embarked on the important mission of individually tagging lobster traps and crab traps with our GPS units and overlaying those locations onto maps. 

The informational and visual results are staggering, and help us inform you and others exactly how many traps are in an area and where there can be potential problems. With this information and your help—we will work with fisher-folk and others to encourage legislators to take action and minimize the danger to (and death of) whales.

Who doesn’t want to protect whales, right?!

We began last year, but picked up again recently and are formalizing Trap Trackers into a full-blown long-term ODA program. Our most recent efforts to collect data and create maps started close to ODA’s home base of Huntington Beach. We went to a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Laguna Beach, and made this video so you can see what we’re doing.

Please watch and share this video, see what we’re doing—and then do whatever you can to keep ODA going long into the future!

Ready to watch?

Now that you’ve watched, are you ready to pitch in? Great!

I want to volunteer!

I am ready to donate to keep Trap Trackers clearing the way!