“JOIN THE ALLIANCE” Ocean Defenders.Org, Back in the Water Again!

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Posted by Divebum Don on May 12, 2010 at 06:50:04:

The Ocean Defenders Alliance welcomed back divers and crew last Mother’s Day Sunday after what became a long and extended hiatus this winter from the hard underwater jobs at hand. It’s now time to again do what we do! Removing the nets, traps, lines, hooks and other derelict debris from all our underwater playgrounds. And to more importantly help restore the natural habitats (homesteads) for our near shore neighbors, the unseen and often forgotten marine wildlife that we all respect, admire and love.

First off a big thank you to all our dedicated recovery divers and deck crew for tirelessly volunteering to do this dirty, dark, cold, tough and thankless work. Our durable and trusty Recovery Vessel “ R/V Clearwater” has recently been all shined up (dry docked this April, for new Bottom and Top paint by many dedicated volunteers), and fully readied for this years underwater missions. Some new deck and diver protocols will be implemented this year to help us be more effective and efficient for what should be a banner year for the Ocean Defenders Alliance.

The plan on this past Mothers Day Sunday was to document and remove some Ghostnets and derelict lobster traps from the very popular So Cal dive site at “Long Point”, in the near shore coastline of Rancho Palos Verdes. Most commonly referred to as the Old Marineland site (now Terranea Resort). The Ol’Marineland Platform is a previously floating raft (fuel dock?) approximately 40’x40’, now sunken and net encased at approximately 80’ fsw. At least two derelict ‘bug’ traps were also reported to be on site. A decent size swell was building by Sunday morning, and a high surge had been anticipated, as well as some fridged bottom temps.

A new “shake out” aspect of this dive day was to test out some new gear and tools for the tough tasks at hand. The “R/V Clearwater” regular Deck Crew and Recovery Divers wanted to try out among other things:

1) The newly rebuilt anchor/windlass motor.
2) Some new communications ready “full face” masks from O.T.S.
3) The newly revamped davit and recovery winch.
4) A new underwater pneumatic cutting tool.

ODA usually requires of all qualified volunteer recovery divers to bring their already “tried and true” most reliable gear onboard for the work we do, and not to bring out any new gear or tools not previously tested and approved. We owe it to our generous core, and continuous donors to do the jobs at hand efficiently, effectively, and productively with no wasted resources. But this day we intended to experiment just a little. The work dives we do are always the same, but maybe we could “bump it up a notch” from now on?

Dive Supervisor for the day was Greg Cooke, his Commercial Diving experience, Tech Diving skills, and over 10,000 hours of “Reg in mouth” time is always appreciated, respected, and “golden” for our cause. Thanks Greg! Diver SAFETY is always first and foremost onboard the “R/V Clearwater” and everybody comes home safely. All divers were onboard, gear readied and squared away by departure time of 09:00 hours. The run to mission site (Long Point) was approximately 1.00 hour. ODA Recovery Divers were looking forward to a fun and productive dive/work day while celebrating this Mothers Day with our Mother Ocean ☺. Everybody brought their “A” game. Photographer Sami was also on deck as well as our mascot dive dog “Kalani”.

Recent “Ghost net” reports from Captains Phil Garner (Max Bottomtime) and Ross’o convinced us to scout out the Ol’Marineland platform. We nailed the site from their rock solid numbers, thanks guys!, and even had to move our hook “up and away” from the bull’s eye, Sweet! All teams jumped in for the first dive, everybody wanted to get wet, even if we’d had missed the site, but that wasn’t the case at all, good numbers are a great bottom time saver.

Being “dead on” site we rapidly got right to work on the obvious nets encasing about 30% of the steel substructure. “The Platform” previously had lumber on it and is believed to have been ‘trawled’ out into its current position, shaking the lumber loose on the way. Gotta love trawl nets….. NOT!! Not much abundant marine life was noted, but some resident lingcod and various sea stars were noted, and all the exposed sections of this unnatural cultured reef were covered in a beautiful carpet of Strawberry Anemones, Etc.

Vizz was an easy 15’ feet of working distance, with no surge, and just enough “wind at depth” (a So/Easterly current) to constantly and rapidly blow away the debris and zero Vizz generated by the lifting and hand cutting of these reckless and abandoned deadly nets. No Videos were shot on these dives, sorry. Bottom temps were a brisk 48 degrees, but we were warmed with busyness and excellent conditions.

Second dives were more of the same. With a Small Craft Advisory forecast, Captain Kurt asked us to “Git’er done”, so we hit it hard and fast, and eventually stuffed about 8 gunnysacks full with more “Ghost Nets”, Excellent! I was the only one on the teams wearing neoprene, Burrrr, and I came out shaking, but warmed inside with a job well done by all these hardworking divers! O.D.A. Teams will return ASAP to do a bundle and davit lift of the remaining nets that strangle this reef. We also had no time left to locate and lift the derelict lobster traps remaining near site.

Thanks to Captains Kurt and Jim Leiber, Recovery Diver and “my buddy” Greg Cooke (no relation to captain Cooke ☺), there is no one I’d rather be in the water with! And Recovery Divers “Reverend” Al Laubenstein, Navigator/Diver Jeff Conner, Tech Team leader Andy Huber, and Tech Diver/Experimenter Tobias Enhus .

I’m truly thankful to God for my Mother, Father, and siblings who took the time to get to know me and take me to the beach, my health to do the things I love, my friends who share my passion, and the beautiful underwater world he gave us.

ODA plans to extend our range this year with trips planned to the Orange and San Diego coastlines, as well as the Northern Channel Islands where numerous traps are strewn. We’re also considering a ‘green’ bio-fuel conversion for our twin diesels. The not for profit (501c3) Ocean Defenders Alliance really needs your help and contributions more than ever to do work we do. Please consider a generous donation to the cause, and “Join the Alliance”!

Thanks for reading,
For the Oceans and all Wildlife,
Don Robarge
Recovery Diver/Dive Team Coordinator
Ocean Defenders Alliance

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