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Ocean Defenders Alliance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Water, Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management

Mission: Ocean Defenders Alliance works to clean and protect marine ecosystems through documentation, education, and meaningful action. Working with affected communities, we focus primarily on the reduction and removal of man-made debris which poses serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitats.

Results: 2013 was a record breaking year on many fronts for ODA: • ODA conducted 30, daylong debris removal expeditions, primarily within California’s Channel Islands. This number is a new record for us! • ODA removed 33 abandoned traps, more than doubling last year’s record! • ODA recovered 2,190 pounds of trap remnants, breaking our record by more than 200 pounds! • ODA retrieved 1,420 pounds of nets, nearly doubling last year’s record! • We also released 56 animals from certain death, setting another new record! • Though we did not set a record in this category, we are also proud to have reclaimed 3,490 feet of polypropylene line. This line poses an entanglement and drowning risk to surfers, divers, and migrating whales. • Last but not least: ODA representatives gave 31 educational presentations to high schools, middle schools, magnet schools, dive clubs, community groups, and others in 2013. Many of these were in Ventura County, and were supported by local media coverage. This is more than double our previous record!

Target demographics: clean the oceans and save marine wildlife.

Direct beneficiaries per year: We help all marine life (birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, plants and algae) by removing from the ocean abandoned fishing gear including lines, nets, and traps, as well as all other forms of man-made debris such as plastic, metal, and all types of garbage.

Geographic areas served: California coastal waters

Programs: Ocean Defenders Alliance's mission is to work toward clean, healthy marine ecosystems through documentation, education, technology improvements, and meaningful action. The large majority of this active work is done at sea, from aboard our 50-foot vessel donated by television celebrity Bob Barker and named after him: Mr. Barker's LegaSea. The boat crews are volunteer deckhands, mechanics, divers, and our captain is ODA Founder and President Kurt Lieber. Our team's primary action goal: Remove manmade pollution from the oceans, leaving marine habitat and wildlife in a safe and thriving environment.

Community Stories

91 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Dedication of staff, volunteers and donors associated with Ocean Defenders Alliance is something to behold. Their day-in and day-out devotion to the well being of plant and animal sea life is limitless. They think and do, as we all should think and do. The beauty beneath the surface of our oceans, are impacted by ODAs "code blue" mentality for clean-up action that restores, protects and preserves.
As a midwest elementary school science classmate of Kurt Leiber, founder of ODA, I'm proud to say I know that man. ODA is an awesome organization, a gift, that benefits everyone of us.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved supporting ODA for well over a decade now. Kurt Lieber, the founder, is a phenomenal hero for our oceans. The largest impact has been around removal of hundreds (could probably thousands) of lobster traps and trap lines here in our local waters of Southern California. The fruits of these efforts are not easily seen to the masses living on land adjacent to these waters. Kurt and his volunteer supporters including divers, deck hands and people behind the scenes, work countless hours to make this all happen. It is a fabulous organization and I will continue to support it for years to come.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first met Kurt Lieber while working for another nonprofit marine conservation organization. I became a financial supporter of ODA after learning more about its mission and success in removing marine debris: a lot of bang for little buck. I contacted ODA about working with a separate organization, For the Oceans Foundation in Costa Rica, to pursue a campaign to collect and repurpose plastic debris from rivers and the ocean and to prevent it from reaching these waterways through better waste management systems. Kurt and his dedicated team had the necessary expertise, knowledge, experience, and contacts for this project based on their many years of success off the coast of California. The hope is to use ODA’s work as a model for other coastal communities interested in tackling the same issues with equally good results.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Kurt Lieber and the Ocean Defenders Alliance do a terrific job of helping clean up our ocean. They exists on donation and the work they do benefits all of us. Kurt spoke at our local yacht club and inspired all of us.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Kurt and Ocean Defenders Alliance two years ago. His knowledge and commitment on the health of our oceans and it's inhabitants is boundless. I am honored to be among his many supporters and applaud his efforts and expertise. Equipment and man power is a constant need to support ODA's efforts. I urge everyone to donate their skills and funds whenever and however possible.

Patti Mitchell, President
Sea Inspiration
Honolulu, HI

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you Ocean Defenders Alliance for the difficult and dangerous work you do to keep our ocean safe and healthy! As a diver and marine life lover, I am always grateful to hear about your progress in the seemingly never-ending task of cleaning debris from our sea. And the voiceless marine creatures you protect undoubtedly smile when they see you coming. Keep up the good work.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders Alliance is one of the most important and effective non profit organizations in the world. They have made a huge positive impact for marine areas littered with derelict gear, in removing ghost gear and other man made debris from the ocean. This derelict gear ensnares and entraps ocean wildlife, killing many innocent creatures. Their work, dangerous and challenging, with volunteer divers, has made an enormous positive difference for many ocean regions off the Southern California coast. I have the honor of knowing Kurt Lieber, the President of ODA, and have the highest regard for him and for his amazing work in organizing these ocean clean up endeavors, and in providing much needed education to schools and other groups, about the importance of cleaning up the deadly debris left in the oceans. Ocean Defenders Alliance makes a huge difference in a real and practical way, in helping to repair the marine environment.

Donor

Rating: 5

A genuine and committed effort to educate the public and make a difference in our oceans. We picked-up loads of plastic around the our harbor & became educated as to the abundance of trash in our waterways. Ocean Defenders Alliance is a part of teaching these kids to love the ocean too!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders Alliance is the epitome of what a grassroots organization can do for our polluted /dying oceans. They do not succumb to the death knoll but go out there and retrieve one trap, one net, one line at a time and carry on. They have saved myriad marine creatures from starvation, entrapment and death and lessened the pollution and other causation of climate change, our greatest global crisis.
They are not only out there on the ocean, but in the classrooms, beaches and social media, educating the public on the threatening status of the oceans and what can be done.

All this under the passionate leadership of Captain Kurt Lieber and the volunteer scuba divers and crew who routinely risk their lives for this cause.

Donor

Rating: 5

I first heard Kurt Lieber speak in September of 2016, and his photos of the Ghost Gear the ODA retrieved from the ocean woke me up to the severity of the problem. It was some comfort to learn of the dedication of Lieber's volunteers in their vigilance and pursuit of the unholy traps that still lay undersea to maim and kill wildlife.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with ODA in one way or another since the early days when we were just trying to get a boat (that floats) into the water. It has been blood sweat and tears but triumphs too! And oh those triumphs are so sweet. To see a huge chunk of net, a length of line or a trap come from the deep blue onto our deck and then be removed from the ocean to keep that abandoned gear from killing more sea life, wow, it's so very satisfying.

While volunteering with ODA, at the end of the day(s) you can see the results. Whether it is fixing a computer system, repairing a generator or bilge pump, putting a new paint job on the boat or that sweet sense of victory as the deadly gear is ripped from the sea never to kill again, ODA is where it is for me.

I met Kurt volunteering for another ocean oriented non profit. At that organization it felt like half the effort was spent working around egos and navigating a maze of crazy interpersonal relations. That is NOT the case at ODA. At ODA IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MISSION. I meet other engineers, divers and volunteers that are mission focused and results oriented. I have volunteered at animal shelters, wild life rescue centers and teach ins for people wanting to learn math science and language skills. I found all those experiences rewarding. But my time with ODA has let me put my skills to the test and helped me grow and improve my skill set while helping the environment.

Come on board and dive in to make a difference with ODA. You'll be glad you did!

And if you want to support our efforts without the risk of sea sickness by making a donation, I can personally assure you that your money goes in the tank, in the boat and into the mission. We don't have a big or well paid staff. I support with an automatic donation each month. It's that important to me. I don't have a lot to give, but I put my money where my wrench turns, my soldering iron solders and my computing skills get used. I hope you will too.

John Milligan

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ocean Defender Alliance has made me more aware of the detrimental impact that marina debris has on the environment. Perhaps more importantly they have shownthat local action can have a positive effect. Their volunteers work tirelessly to improve the oceans. The leader Kurt Lieber is there (hands on) to educate and encourage both his volunteers and the public.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent the weekend with ODA a few years ago on Catalina Island and was very impressed by the level of dedication and professionalism they bring to necessary ocean cleanup efforts. I adore and wholeheartedly support their mission.

Donor

Rating: 5

ODA does a GREAT job keeping our oceans clean and safe for the wildlife!!

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Advisor

Rating: 5

ODA is my all time favorite org., and I given to a lot of different groups. The work that the founder, Kurt Lieber, and his volunteer crew does is amazing. The creatures in our Southern California ocean are lucky to have ODA around. If possible please sign-up for a monthly donation to ODA. Thank you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a day on an ODA boat to help collect trash from the ocean when I lived in Los Angeles. The group was highly organized and meticulous about safety for the divers and those on the boat. What struck me was their selfless dedication to this cause--they are always seeking ways to improve with technology, be it with drones or cleaner engines on their boats. They are filling a neglected niche in the bigger picture and are bravely going forward despite the difficulties of locating abandoned underwater traps, gear, and other hazards. I was moved by their dedication to ocean life.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am so impressed with the wonderful work that Ocean Defenders Alliance does to clean dangerous debris from the ocean, and they do it on a limited budget with lots of volunteers. They also educate many people both locally and around the country about the problem.

Advisor

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders Alliance is a GREAT organization and they share the same vision as we do. This vision is to help our marine animal friends and protect them from the devastation abandoned fishing nets and traps have on the inhabitants of the ocean. We applaud their efforts and are very proud to be on their Board of Advisors and a partner of this amazing non-profit.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Ocean Defenders Alliance is an amazing organization. With a cadre of able volunteers and a selfless leader, we are involved in removing discarded fishing gear, lost lobster and crab pots and other debris from the ocean.

Frequent presentations to local groups, schools and other organizations help to get the ODA message out to the general public and reinforce the need for an involved populace in keeping our oceans safe and debris free.

Donor

Rating: 5

They are very local right in Huntington Beach and are very organized but very close to home.
Not too centralized, or big.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is the only group I know of directly removing dangerous and deadly fishing debris from our coastal waters. This organization needs more funding and more chapters - every major city in the world should have one!