By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
With the official start of the commercial lobster season upon us, we’ve been tied to the docks as we don’t want to be seen as interfering with the fishermen’s legally set traps.
The conundrum for us is that the dive conditions are almost always the best in October, November, and December. This coincides with the lobster hunting season.
On Sunday, November 12th, frustration gave way to pragmatism. At 9am, several of us met at the boat slip and headed out of Channel Islands Harbor and motored out to Anacapa Island where we knew we’d see many trap buoys.
As we headed out through the harbor breakwall, we were met by some of the best conditions we’ve seen all year. Nothing but clear skies, flat seas, and fall temperatures in the 60s. Another perk was that the water looked blue, not the normal green that we see 90% of the time.
Because we weren’t diving this time out, we had more room for passengers, and we loaded up the boat with 13 people. Kim Cardenas, Hannah and Pete Merkel, Dave and Jean Merrill, Geoff Walsh, and Mike Wynd were our seasoned volunteers. Plus, I had invited five of my neighbors along for the ride.
We wanted to keep their locations fresh in our minds so we can go back to those spots once the lobster season has ended and remove any abandoned ones that we might find while diving. Along the way, we saw Santa Cruz Island:
Knowing that they lose 10-15% of their traps every year, we note where high concentrations of them are and thereby maximize our efforts by diving those same locations after the season ends, in March.
I GPS-marked those locations as we motored by them.
What a ride it turned out to be. On the way over, we were treated to several pods of dolphins that seemed excited to bow ride with us. Mike got some outstanding still shots of the dolphins, while Pete took some video, which you can see here.
I hope you can take three minutes to watch their beauty and grace as they ride along with us at eight miles per hour.
You'll want to look at the dolphin photos in our photo gallery below, too!
As we approached the far west tip of Anacapa we could see Santa Cruz Island clear as day about five miles away.
The south side of Anacapa is open for lobster hunting, whereas most of the north side of the island is not because it is a Marine Protected Area. We wanted to see, in south side area, where we could be most effective once the season ends.
Technically there are three islands that make up Anacapa and in total stretch for six miles: East, Middle, and West. There’s a gap between Middle and East islands which you can see in this photo below.
In this area, there were traps spaced about 100 feet apart all along the length of the island, with some areas having higher concentrations than others.
Just before we headed back home, as we were rounding the east end, we saw dozens of traps set all around Arch Rock. Check it out in the photo below:
This is the exact area where we removed eight traps in one day in September, which was a record haul for us.
We’ll keep monitoring the island through the season. We’ve got to stay vigilant because when the lobsters have been fished out from one area, the fishermen seek more productive fishing grounds elsewhere and move their traps to other locations.
This Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we are especially thankful that because of our dedicated volunteers and the financial support of our donors we WILL be able to return to save wildlife from these areas!
Remember to watch the beautiful dolphin video: