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Who We Are

Who We Are

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

There are only a handful of people in the "ocean conservation world" with the stature and well-earned respect given Dr. Sylvia Earle.

ODA is honored to have her endorsement of our efforts to achieve a debris-free sea:

Sylvia Earle on the importance of ODA

Dr. Sylvia Earle talks about the importance of the work that ODA does: hauling debris
out of the ocean, making the seas a cleaner and safer place for marine wildlife.
Please join Dr. Earle in supporting ODA by making a donation today!

A bit of history

I've known about Sylvia Earle for decades now.  In 1979 she stunned the entire diving community when she descended down 1,250 feet in the world's deepest solo dive without a tether to the surface; she was the first person to ever go down that far.  Then she went to 3,281 feet and set the record for the deepest women's solo free dive.  Since then I have read everything I could find about her bold adventures.  Fast forward to the present, and she is one of the most vocal advocates for ocean conservation in the world today!

I had the great pleasure of meeting her in person at a conference in Washington DC in 2009.  During a break after one of her presentations, I spoke with her one-on-one for about 20 minutes.  I felt like I was in the presence of royalty.  …and actually, because of her many accomplishments, some people affectionately refer to her as "Her Deepness."  I do too!

During the course of the last decade or so, I have seen and spoken with her many times.  Her passion for the oceans is truly contagious.  When I explained to her what ODA is about and how she, along with Jacques Cousteau, is partly responsible for inspiring me to start this organization, she was delighted and wanted to know if she could do anything to help.

I hope you'll take two minutes to watch this video (see above).  Then dig a little deeper and learn more about ODA -- right here on our website. We hope you'll agree with Dr. Earle that there are many good reasons to "dive in" with ODA and help clean the oceans.

Formalizing Our Partnership

I (on behalf of ODA) have had some very positive interactions with Dr. Earle and her team at Mission Blue (especially Deb Castellana and Brett Garling!).  In late 2012, ODA was invited to become a Mission Blue Partner. Here is a description from their website:

Mission Blue is a global coalition of passionate organizations that work together to improve the health of the ocean. From large multinationals to bare-bones scientific teams, each Mission Blue partner does their part to raise awareness about the beauty -- and fragility -- of the blue heart of our planet.

Shortly thereafter, I was contacted to write an article about ghost nets and their negative effect on the ocean.  It was an honor to do so, and even more exciting when I learned that the ghost net article would be the first article in the re-launch of their website and the first "Partner Story" featured.  I am thrilled to have her endorsement of our work.

I love this photo of Dr. Earle and me in 2014:

2014 Sylvia Earle and Kurt Lieber

Our spirits and energy are buoyed by your support, Dr. Earle! We are charged up and ready to go pull more debris out of our beloved ocean.

We would be honored if you, dear Reader, would join Dr. Earle in supporting ODA by making a donation today!