By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
This is a report that is long overdue. Because of ongoing computer issues (don’t even get me started!), I wasn’t able to tell you about a fantastic day we had out on Anacapa Island in September.
Anacapa Island is a small volcanic island located about 11 miles off the coast of Ventura County, California.
We Never Give Up
On a trip to Anacapa on August 14th of this year, we’d located an abandoned fishing net near a place called Frenchy’s Cove. We came across it too late in the day to do anything about it, so we made note of the general location to come back another day to haul out that deadly ghost gear.
Then on Sunday, September 25th, we headed back out to the island to tackle that net. As we were preparing for the trip, I read a weather report that said the seas were going to be nasty in the afternoon, and that they were giving out small craft advisories. Heeding that call, we got an early start on the day with the intention of doing only one dive and heading back to Oxnard no later than noon.
Ocean Defenders at Sea Again
The divers for this expedition were: Kevin Augarten, Kim Cardenas, Peter Fulks, and Jeff Larson. Boat crew were: Lisa Davis, Jim Lieber, Tim Pearson, and Karla Reinhardt, who also took most of these great pictures.
We were pleasantly surprised when we left Oxnard to find flat seas. As we were making the 12-mile trek to Anacapa, we saw several pods of dolphins. For the first time ever, we didn’t stop to enjoy their company, ignoring my mantra that WE BREAK FOR DOLPHINS AND WHALES. We were on a mission, had a set timeline, and kept focused on the task at hand.
That said, we certainly managed to click off a few photos as we sailed by the beautiful marine mammals!
Look Out Marine Debris, Here We Come!
When we got to Frenchy’s Cove, Kevin, Kim, Peter, and Jeff were already in their dive gear and promptly jumped in the water.
Using underwater scooters, they dropped down into 70 feet of water and proceeded to search for the net. After about 20 minutes we started seeing lift bags break the surface. Yeah! Always a good sign.
First we saw two bags, then a third, and soon after that another two of those bad boys!
What was confusing to me was that the bags were far apart. Jim, Karla, and Tim got in the RIB and cautiously motored over to the first set of lift bags, making sure they were nowhere near the divers. Jim radioed me that there was a huge trap attached to it.
We’ll Take (Out) ANY Kind of Debris
They hauled it over to our boat the Mr. Barker’s LegaSea, where Lisa and I hauled it up using our davit (crane). This trap was so big that there was no way we were going to be able to haul it up by hand. Just another reminder of how nice it is to have the LegaSea in our box of tools. Thank you ever more, Mr. Bob Barker!
We repeated this procedure four more times. Yep, they hauled out four traps and hundreds of feet of trap lines.
So, even though we didn’t locate the net, we did get four more traps out of this area that is a National Marine Sanctuary, National Park, and Marine Protected Area all rolled into one. We also removed 400 feet of deadly trap lines and another 100 pounds of hazardous trap remnants.
We made time to take a few pictures, and then precisely at noon we headed back to our slip in Oxnard.
Proper Planning Pays Off
The ride back went smoothly until we got about three miles away, then the seas started picking up. I called a lobster fisherman who is part of our alliance to let him know that we would be leaving him some traps. He asked me if we were still out on the island. When I said no, he let me know that he was still out there and they were getting hammered by strong winds and huge waves.
Whoa! We made it out of there just in time. Thank you, weather service!
The Park Rangers also stopped by when the divers were in the water and thanked us profusely for getting this ghost gear out. ODA—which means all of our financial supporters and volunteer crew— is glad to be of service!
As we move past Thanksgiving weekend, I want to express my sincere thanks all of our volunteers and supporters. It is YOU who keep us on and under the water.
Together we are making a huge difference for the underwater world—flora and fauna surviving and thriving because of YOU!
Check out ALL of the pictures from this outing!