More "net" loss

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Posted by Divebum Don on January 10, 2009 at 22:34:52:

We shoved off Friday out of Redondo Harbor on board the 74' "Captain Jack" R/V to recover nets from a Squidder wreck off the East end of Catalina. ODA was contacted by SeaShepherd.org a couple weeks ago about a wreck that had a net unfurling off it's own spool that was killing marine mammals, fish's and sharks. The report was made to Sea Shepherd by local Catalina tech diver Donny Neel. ODA got involved and with the guidance of well respected Catalina diver Jason Manix (THANK YOU JASON!) ODA was able to help coordinate and organize a large scale net removal.

Some of the other divers involved were amazing including Bob Kennedy, owner of Scuba Luv and the mayor of Avalon, Cinde MacGugan, managing partner from Catalina Divers Supply, and Ron Moore, owner of Dive Catalina. In all 13 divers on two teams are involved in this first round of net removal from this challenging site @ 147 fsw.

Santa Ana winds raised hell last evening, and today was howling, but we were able to get onsite and get some "Net Loss" (about 800 lbs.) Approx. 10% ? There were at least 10 support crew who were volunteering their time and effort for this good cause as well. Thank You especially Mike Hoover, and crew (family ;~) from the Captain Jack!! Awesome boat, but they took the submarine off before we boarded, Bummer!

We're heading out Sunday for another round of removal, this wreck is about 70 feet long and COVERED bow to stern, gunnel to gunnel and up to the crows nest in it's own netting, very erie looking! MUCH pro video was shot and will be edited and distributed, some is very disturbing. Another jump tomorrow, will report the final catch after then. And it's a cool new tech-wreck once the nets are removed ;~) 40' of vizz and 52 degrees at depth. (I need a dry suit ;~ )

Dive with a Purpose!
Here's a press release, LA Times may be onsite Sunday:
*** MEDIA ADVISORY – JAN. 8, 2009 ***

OCEAN DEFENDERS ALLIANCE (http://www.oceandefenders.org)

Contact: Kurt Lieber
T: 714-875-5881 E: kurt@oceandefenders.org

Killer Fishing Net Sunk Off Catalina Island to be Removed by Volunteer Scuba Divers

Huntington Beach, Orange County, CA – A group of expertly trained volunteer scuba divers led by the Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) will attempt to remove a large derelict fishing net, sunk off Catalina Island that is responsible for the death of dozens of protected marine mammals. This is a potentially life threatening undertaking for the dive team, and all participants are volunteers. The first expedition will be Jan. 10, 2009.

The commercial net, estimated to weight over 9000 pounds, is attached to the purse seiner “The Infidel” which accidentally sank off the east end of Catalina Island in 2006 while fishing for squid. Although the wreck is 150 feet deep, the bounty caught in the net continues to attract and trap fish and invertebrates, including sea mammals, which become helplessly tangled in the net trying to catch the encased prey. It is estimated that dozens of sea lions and dolphins have already been drowned by the killer net. If left to remain in the ocean, many more animals will suffer the same fate.

“I have never seen a derelict fishing net that massive before,” states Kurt Lieber, Founder and President of ODA, after watching an underwater video shot by Jason Manix. “Due to storms and currents, this mindless net has wrapped itself around the wreck in layers which further complicates the removal process. We’ll probably have to cut it into smaller pieces and may have to recover it over several trips to the site.”

In addition to long-time ODA volunteer divers, a group of commercial divers will go down and help cut the net away from the trawler. Due to the depth and bottom time required, divers will use nitrox gas mixtures and rebreathers. Notably, the Mayor of Avalon, Bob Kennedy, an avid diver will participate on this potentially dangerous mission. Also volunteering their time and skills will be several divers from the 3 scuba stores on the island: Catalina Diver Supply, Catalina Scuba Luv and Dive Catalina. Independent divers Jason Manix and Donny Neel are organizing the entire dive team.

To facilitate the complex dive operation, nature documentarian Mike Hoover is donating the services of his 70-foot ex-trawler, “Captain Jack”, that has been used for National Geographic specials. There will be photographers and videographers on the deck of the ship and underwater. Dr. Bill Cooper (marine biologist and research scientist) from UCI and Tony Christopher (nature filmmaker just back from filming in the Arctic) will be topside documenting the recovery. This lifesaving mission is attracting the attention other experts from the dive industry and academic circles.

Ocean Defenders Alliance is a nonprofit marine conservation group based in Huntington Beach, California, founded in 2002 by Kurt Lieber, a long-time advisor and board director of the world-renowned Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (“Whale Wars” on Animal Planet). With a dedicated volunteer team of expert scuba divers and two work boats, ODA has removed over 4 tons of abandoned and derelict fishing gear from the sea floor, including rotting lobster traps and fishing nets that continue to needlessly ensnare and kill marine wildlife. Website: www.oceandefenders.org

CONTACT: For more information and/or to receive images from the net recovery, please contact Kurt Lieber, Founder and President of ODA. T: 714-875-5881 E: kurt@oceandefenders.org

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