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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

Funny how things turn out sometimes

I took a few people out on our boat Bob Barker's LegaSea to look for whales and get out an exercise the boat on Sunday, January 10th.  Because of the number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California, I've been hesitant to take anybody out when we can’t really socially distance on a boat.

In this case I took ODA Advisory Board Member Linda Nicholes, her daughter Robin Sol, and Anthony (Robin’s boyfriend).  We all wore masks except when we got out of the harbor and the wind was blowing 25 mph (which included when we took photos).

ODA Supporters Anthony, Robin, and Linda

As we headed out of Los Angeles Harbor and turned the corner around Angels Gate, I noticed a distinct line of trash that just seemed to go on forever into the distance…

We had had our first significant rain of the season about two weeks prior to our outing, All the trash that was in the streets got flushed into the storm drains and eventually made its way to the ocean.

As we kept heading up the coast to Point Vicente, Palos Verdes, the line of trash just kept going.  We were coasting about a quarter-mile offshore and were seeing dozens of floating kelp paddies just filled with plastics. 

Kelp paddy filled with trash

The kelp paddies are habitat for lots of critters, both large and small.  So, it was just depressing to see so much junk embedded in these paddies.

When we reached Point Vicente the line of trash was still there, roughly 10 miles long!  I decided to take the boat out a little further from shore to get out of the filth and see if we could find cleaner waters.  About a half mile out things cleared up significantly.  Then we spotted some dolphins who wanted to bow ride.

Common Dolphin bowriding with the LegaSea

We headed back home just thrilled that the dolphins swam next to us for about two miles, but at the same time disgusted about all the trash in the water.

Dolphins escort Ocean Defenders boat

Fast forward a week, to Monday the 18th, and I received a call from a reporter at the Orange County Register.  Laylan Connelly had received some amazing video from Mark Girardeau and wanted to know if I had noticed an increase in plastics in the water… Oh boy, did he open up a can of worms.

Laylan wrote a nice piece about how society’s responses to COVID-19 are affecting marine wildlife and included my quotes.  You can read about it here and watch Mark’s stunning video:

Please do all you can to keep this plastic out of the environment!  One thing I do, in addition to using as little plastic as possible: I have a bucket in my car trunk, along with a trash grabber.  So, whenever I come across some litter and have the time, I just grab my gear and start picking up.  You don’t have to have an organized cleanup to make a difference, and the trash grabbers allow you to pick up all kinds of stuff without even getting your hands dirty.  My encouragement to you: START YOUR OWN PICKING PARTY!

Your support of ODA is vital so coastal waters in California and Hawai'i can continued to be cleaned. Thank you for making it happen!

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