With summer finally here, ODA is looking forward to a very busy diving season.
Before our first clean-up expeditions of 2005, we had a Spring full of outreach and education, including presentations at dive clubs and a full day in April at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's annual Earth Day event (pictured above). CMA draws a great crowd and dozens of wonderful environmental groups were on hand to educate the public about respecting the environment.
In May, we took a booth for both days at the California Scuba Show in Long Beach, marking our first major trade show appearance. Scott Sheckman, Jared Rubin, Chris Aultman and I met and talked with hundreds of people over the course of the show about ODA's mission and needs for volunteers and funding.
We had our new t-sirts on sale for the first time and sold many to help raise money for our upcoming campaigns. Please visit our website to find out how you can order one. Thanks to everyone who signed up for our email list!
The following weekend, May 28th , found us on and in the water for our first dives. The dive crew consisted of Chris Aultman, first time crewmember Jeff Shaw and myself, with Scott Sheckman filling the role of first mate. The seas were absolutely perfect, flat with no swells. Dive conditions were nice, with water temp in the low 60's. Visibility was not so good though, averaging 8 to 10 feet with it opening up to 15 feet near the bottom.
Our first dive was at Little Carona, less than a mile from the mouth of Newport Harbor. This was my first time diving the kelp bed at this location and it was a wonderful experience. The kelp was so thick that I could not swim to back to the boat on the surface, I had to drop back down and swim under the kelp canopy. I haven't seen such a thick bed of kelp along the coast in years. This is obviously a spot that fishermen frequent, I got tangled up in fishing line several times and we found a lot of discarded fishing lures lying on the sea floor.
Our second dive was at Reef Point in Laguna Beach. Conditions were about the same but without the kelp. During the rainy season over this past winter, Chris Aultman took me up in a helicopter to look at the massive pollution plume that was coming out of the rivers. We were able to observe the spots where the lobster-fishermen concentrate their traps. Armed with this information, we went back to one of the more intensely trapped areas and found a lot of broken up trap pieces. At one time we had 3 lift bags loaded with garbage and even though we found more junk we had no more bags to send it up to the surface.
Because of bad visibility it was difficult to keep track of buddies and keep a sharp eye out for traps, but no one got lost and we found about 100 pounds of trap remnants, including one weight bar that must weigh 50 pounds.
All in all, it was a very productive day but the boat started acting up as we returned to port. The engine is cycling from 1,100rpm to 1,500, and it wasn't doing that when we started out. The trailer needs about $600 worth of brake and wheel bearing repairs. We sorely need some donations to cover the cost of the repairs and are in need of money for a Bimini cover that would protect us from the sun. If there are any mechanics out there that would like to donate some time please let us know.
Keep the trap reports coming in! We spend a lot of bottom time trying to locate them and would love to spend more time removing them rather than searching for them.
Founder & President
Ocean Defenders Alliance