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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

Despite the brutal heat wave we had here in So Cal last week, it was an incredibly busy and productive week for us.

We're Making a great Plan for the Sea!

On Thursday, May 15th, dodging wildfires along the way, I went down to Encinitas (north Sand Diego County) to meet up with Ray Hollowell.  You might remember Ray, he runs Plan SeaTV.  They are focused on providing educational short videos about the health of our oceans and do a great job of inspiring kids to get involved in these important issues.  Inspired by ODA, Ray and his team at Plan SeaTV rescued a dolphin that was caught in a trap line last year, off the coast of Hawaii.

Pendelton fire on the way to meet Ray Hollowell of PlanSEARay Hollowell, Encinitas City Council Member Kristin Gaspar, and Kurt Lieber

Ray films and produces a show called "MY BEACH REPORT".  He invited me to be in a segment featuring ODA.  I was interviewed by Kirsten Gaspar, who is the mayor of Encinitas.  We had a lot of fun! The mayor was excited about our accomplishments and wants to come out with us when we get back down to San Diego County.  Despite the heat, THAT was pretty cool!

Channel Islands Harbor cleanup, round 3

On Saturday, May 17th, we organized our third cleanup effort to remove debris from underneath the boat slips in the harbor where the commercial fishing boats reside.  We've had great successes in the past and this day was no different.

Jeff Larson led the all-volunteer ODA Dive Crew, which consisted of: Kevin Augarten, Kim Cardenas, and Zane Toyon.  Jim Lieber, Lisa Davis, and Tim Pearson rounded out the deck crew.

ODA Volunteer Cleanup Crew at Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura, CAKurt Lieber gives breifing to the volunteer cleanup crew

Thanks to Tim, a teacher at  Marymount School, in Santa Barbara, we had a GREAT turnout of students and parents.   This dock crew was made up of: Brian Borgatello, Bennett Burnes, Sophiana Ciani, Cynthia Copeland, Vickie and Alani Gonzolez, Elizabeth Heimlich, Parker Matthews, Caleb and Herman Padilla, Lanea Pearson, Rich Toyon, and Sofie Ziouani.

All-volunteer Ocean Defender Dive Team ODA Volunteer divers ready to haul-out debris

As soon as divers Kevin, Jeff, Kim, and Zane dropped down into the murky waters, they found a plethora of debris that the kids and adults started hauling up.  That continued for over two hours!  Big stuff, little stuff, and a lot in between. 

Volunteer kids hauling-out debris Volunteer give it all they've got to pull up the discarded batteries.

Too much stuff to mention here, but a short list would include: 4 batteries (at least 100 lbs each), two water pumps, electric fan, rubber hoses, two hand carts, a HUGE plastic tub (5 ft. x 7 ft. x 2 ft), an old SLR camera, and last but certainly NOT least, a 5-foot section of a pier piling that had to weigh 300 lbs.  In all, I estimate it totaled 1,300 pounds!
It felt great to get all that junk out of the ocean.  The kids had a good time, and got to see some cool critters up close and personal, like a foot-long fish, lots of sea stars, and four octopi.

Ocean Defenders volunteer kids on the conservation vessel <em>Clearwater</em>Ocean debris that was hauled out of the harbor by Ocean Defenders

I am just thrilled that these young people are willing to give up their Saturday, get dirty, and learn that it feels good to do volunteer work.  ODA's hat is off to each one of you!

Wreck of the Olympic

Ocean Defender volunteers Phillip and Laurie MeilbachLast week, I received an email from one of our fans, Alison Salmon, about a net she found on the sunken vessel the Olympic during one of her recent dives.  This is a wreck that lies three miles off the coast of San Pedro.  We've been removing nets and traps from this historic site since 2007.  

ODA supporters Phillip and Laurie Meilback had contacted me several months ago about wanting to help out by taking us out on their boat whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Since the ODA flagship Clearwater is up in Oxnard, I took them up on their offer.

They have a really nice 42-foot-long boat, called Fools Gold.  We took off from their boat slip in Huntington Harbor on Sunday, May 18th.  The seas were on our side, with swells no higher than three feet.  Because their boat cruises at 15 knots, we were out to the dive site within a half hour.  It would have taken over an hour in the Clearwater.  This boat is similar in size and configuration to the kind of boat ODA is trying to locate and purchase, so it was REALLY nice to see how all the dive operations went.  And they went very well, I am happy to say!

Ocean Defenders Dive and Boat Crew Ocean Defenders Dive and Boat Crew with the ocean debris they hauled in.

The all-volunteer ODA Dive Crew consisted of: Al Laubenstein, Jeff Connor, Bill Maley, Walter Marti, and Bob Walls.  
Phillip dropped the anchor right on the site…literally. The guys dove down to 100 feet and started looking for the net.  They found it pretty quickly, attached it to a lift bag and sent it to the surface.  Although it didn't weigh much, it is important to get all the net out that we can.  Small animals like crabs, snails, and shrimp will start feeding on the algae that grows on a net, and then when a fish or seabird tries to eat those animals, the can become stuck in the net.  We don't want that now, do we?

California Women's Conference, Long Beach

At the California Women's Conference Robert Wyland, Charlie Moore, and Tanya StreeterThen to wrap up a very busy week, I attended a portion of this two-day women's conference.  Bonnie Monteleone is on ODA's Board of Directors, and she had some of her art on prominent display there to stimulate discussions about plastics in the oceans.  While I was there I had the great opportunity to talk with some old and new friends of ODA: world renowned artist Wyland, Charlie Moore of Algilita, and Tanya Streeter. Each of them are doing all they can to raise the public awareness about all the damage that plastic is causing to our friends in the ocean.

Tanya holds many records for free diving, in fact she holds the women's world record for free diving to 525 feet!!  She is in the Women Divers Hall of Fame.  I've seen documentaries about her and it was a thrill to meet her.

It was a great way to wrap up a very busy time for ODA.  In addition to all of this, I am actively searching for a new (used) boat that will replace our aging, but now repaired and working again (!), Clearwater.  Thanks so much to all of you who have sent in donations and the letters of support.  ODA could NOT clean the oceans and save animals without all of you!

Be sure to check out all the fun pictures in our slide show!