In 2006, the 70-foot fishing vessel Infidel sank in 150 feet of water off Catalina Island, taking with it it’s huge, 9,000 pound net which has since draped itself over the wreck. Every day, the net continues to catch fish and other sea life indiscriminately, 150 feet below the surface, needlessly killing thousands of animals each year. Dolphins, seals, and sea lions have been freed from the wreck – or more commonly, had their remains removed long after their deaths.
That’s where Kurt Lieber and the Ocean Defender’s Alliance comes in. Diving a wreck 150 feet deep and cutting away a drifting net is not for the faint of heart; it required specializing diving skills as well as carefully planning and procedures to assure a safe and successful dive.
Founded in 2002 and based in Orange County, California, the Ocean Defenders Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots marine conservation organization dedicated to helping protect sea life and cleaning up the oceans. Through their website at oceandefenders.org, visitors can learn more about the work they do, volunteer their time and services (both above and below the water), and report debris that is currently endangering wildlife.
One of the projects they’ve done involved removing large sections of the derelict net covering the Infidel, freeing animals trapped within it and preventing the needless deaths of thousands of other animals. The following video was produced by KCET which shares their mission and dives to remove the nets from the Infidel:
In addition to doing invaluable work at sea, Ocean Defenders Alliance also works onshore to educate the public about the vital need for clean and healthy oceans. Through educational presentations at schools, expos, festivals, and dive clubs, they inform people of all types and ages, raise their awareness about the plight of the oceans, and inspire them to join their efforts in cleaning up the oceans. ODA also reaches out to fishermen, restaurants, and the seafood community to enlighten them to these issues and seek to gain their commitment to becoming better stewards of the oceans.
Please take a moment and watch the video above. For more information on the Ocean Defenders Alliance, please visit their website here.