ODA has been very active lately. On July 2nd we went to Reef Point, located just off the shore of Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach. On our first dive we located and removed a lobster trap that had been reported to us by Nancy Caruso of OC CoastKeepers. We found two more traps, but they were too far buried in the sand bottom for us to feasibly remove. We would like to pursue the possibility of extracting traps we find in this condition, and there are a LOT of them. Right now I'd have to say for every one trap that is removable, there are 2 more that are beyond our capability. At this time ODA is focused on removing all the lost commercial fishing gear that is more easily brought to the surface.
Our second dive was at Moss Point in South Laguna. After scouring the shallow reef area to the east of the stairs, we were able to remove about 100 foot of anchor line that was becoming wrapped around everything on the seafloor that couldn't move to escape its slow constriction. These lines choke and damage the benthic life that offer us not only unique beauty but are the filters of all the detritus that comes their way. In other words they help keep the water clean by removing all the organic material that gets dumped into the ocean and transform that biomass it into life.
The following week found me in Washington DC at the Animal Rights 2004 conference. It was held from July 8 -12. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president Paul Watson kindly gave ODA a chance to spread the word of our activities at the SSCS outreach table. Scott Sheckman and I handed out over 50 business cards and had a wonderful time connecting with people who are devoted to doing something to help animals. Our objectives were warmly embraced by all who inquired.
On July 24th ODA were again out on the water. This time our plan was to do a systematic sweep of the area known as Reef Point. Going on a hunch based on previous observations, we anchored at N33°33.792, W117°50.026. Rick Stevens and I entered the water bumming about the 8 foot visibility, but determined to get on with the task at hand. When we finally set down on the bottom we were in 36 feet of water, with the visibility opening up to 20-30 feet. Since we had anchored just east of the reef that was breaking the waters surface, Rick and I headed west toward the exposed rocks. What we found was an eye opener. Huge rocky reefs protruding from the sandy bottom. There were a series of these outcroppings that ran perpendicular to the shoreline. Each one had its own secrets to give. One reef would have mounds of red gorgonians covering the outside of the rocks, catching all that float into their polyps. Others would have lots of Garibaldi with numerous blacksmith and sheephead in various stages of development.
All throughout this area we saw pieces of very old traps: several sheets of rusting wire mesh and 2 weight bars that are used to weigh down the traps. Plus we found 2 traps that were not removable. In all we removed about 50 pounds of trap remnants from this spot.
For our second dive we moved the boat about 200 feet west and dropped anchor in 42 feet of water. We were cruising down a 30 foot wide sand flat between two major reefs when we discovered a newly discarded lobster trap. It was wedged between 2 rocks and had been gouging out a resting spot among a lot of gorgonians, Christmas tree worms and feather dusters. The trap was not very old, maybe in its second year, and the door had been disabled. It was with great relief that we pulled this potential death trap out. In all we successfully removed about 150 pounds of discarded lobster traps and over 200 feet of half inch thick anchor/trap lines in the month of July. Reef Point is breathing a sigh of relief tonight.
Thank you to all who have volunteered and donated. ODA can only do this with your help. With your continued assistance we will be out on the ocean floor again in the month of August, making a systematic sweep of the Laguna Beach coastline. Helping to ease some of the burden we have put on our beloved oceans.
Founder & President
Ocean Defenders Alliance