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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

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: Ocean debris removed through 2019:

Plastic Debris: 46,000 pounds
Misc debris: 30,000 pounds
Traps (lobster, snail, crabpot, hoop): 390
Trap Line: 43,750 feet
Net (gill, squid, mixed unknown): 34,000 pounds
Fishing line: 46,400 feet
Fishing Weights, Lead: 2,775 pounds

In addition to the physical removal of ghost gear and pollution, ODA representatives give presentations about the plight of the oceans and what you can do about it at schools, civic groups, dive clubs, boat/sail clubs, and more.

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: Coastal waters

Programs: Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) uses boats or works from shore to remove man-made debris ranging from every kind of abandoned fishing gear to plastic trash. 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

125 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Catherine94

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Getting fishing gear out of the water is one of the most direct ways to save ocean wildlife. Thanks to Ocean Defenders Alliance, it's happening. Plus, having extra eyes on and in the ocean helps identify issues - like too many fishing pots too close together - that gives inside info to the conservation movement.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've helped ODA clean up LA Harbor. It is a selfless group doing great work to help our local environment. Thanks ODA.

Andre9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have helped ODA for years and cant think of a better way to directly impact the global environment via local direct action! Every dollar spent by ODA is applied completely to the removal of man made trash from our ocean. The change starts here!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Doing a part to clean up marine habitat. We put it there, we should clean it up.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is an amazing organization. Truly a non-profit, existing with many volunteers who dive, maintain the ODA boat, and spread the word about our mission.

1 Deb_34

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The hard work of the Ocean Defenders Alliance continues to make a big difference for the local marine ecosystems where they operate. Having watched them grow over the past several years, we're proud to have them as part of the Sylvia Earle Alliance / Mission Blue family.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We are partners of the Ocean Defenders Alliance and we find Kurt and his team to be incredibly effective at making a real difference to the marine environment. Their stories, shared on our Mission Blue website have inspired people across the globe to launch ocean cleanups of their own! Organizations such as ODA give us hope for the future!

Donor

Rating: 5

ODA is a group of highly dedicated, experienced individuals working toward a common goal. They are industrious and creative and the work they do is essential!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is everything an organization should be: passionate, resourceful, reliable, frugal & always ready & able to help their cause. ODA rids the ocean of harmful abandoned fishing gear & anything else they find under the sea that's wreaking havoc, from car batteries to microwaves to nets and gear, they clean it up so the animals are safe and healthy. ODA is the best!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

FANTASTIC organization, selfless and dedicated volunteers. I have helped on a few of their harbor cleanups and it is wonderful to see these altruistic people hauling leaky & destructive garbage out of the ocean waters.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is in Hawaii! Great to have them here and cleaning up our ocean for the Marine life as well as keeping the debris from getting on our beaches.
I don't dive but as a land and water photographer, I have documented them in action.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing non profit that is doing wonderful things to rid our oceans of marine debris!

Donor

Rating: 5

I started donating when a great guy suddenly died. This was the organization that was recommended in memory of him. He had volunteered along with his brother so when birthday, anniversary date comes, holidays I donate in memory of him. What this organization does to try to get OUR ocean clean is so amazing. My bucket list includes actually visiting this place and maybe getting my hands wet in OUR ocean. Thank you Kurt for all you do, the time you put into this for everyone and animal in the ocean.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders is a great non-profit advocate for the care of our oceans and its animals. When not on the ocean clearing ghost nets and debris, they are actively participating in outreach programs to the next generation of ocean protectors.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders Alliance is a excellent protector of ocean wildlife. ODA has been very helpful in the fight against deadly driftnets that unnecessarily kill ocean wildlife like sea turtles, whales, dolphins and many other species.

Lauren135

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you so much for all the hard work you do keeping our oceans clean and sea life safe! ODA is one of the best local organizations and their services are valuable beyond measure!

AlexEarl

Donor

Rating: 5

ODA is a conservation success story of a small nonprofit driven by vision and social innovation to deliver truly impactful conservation results. Kurt and the ODA team selflessly clean and protect the ocean for the benefit of all. Now ODA is bringing its unique marine conservation work to Hawaii. Please support ODA today.

Previous Stories

Advisor

Rating: 5

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) is an amazing nonprofit that works one of the most important environmental issues - marine debris in the ocean. With a very small budget and driven by the will and passion of volunteers, ODA has delivered impactful hands on results which have protected marine animals and sensitive marine ecosystems. ODA is one of the few organizations that has volunteer divers go under the sea to physically remove marine debris including ghost fishing nets. Please consider supporting their work today!

Donor

Rating: 5

What's not to like about this. They are removing ghost gear from the ocean that we have contributed to. Thank you. Soon we should have a clean ocean for our future generations! Would be great if a couple billion dollars went to this cause and governments took action on proper waste management.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is amazing; they donate their time and talents to clearing the ocean waters of deadly debris! My daughter and I have volunteered with them numerous times over the past few years and every time we do we walk away filled with inspiration and optimism. We are so grateful to ODA for the work they do!

Michael349

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been on board while abandoned traps and nets have come over the rail. I have been in the water and tied lift bags to derilict nets and traps. I have witnessed the ODA in action, and it makes me very proud to tell anyone how our mother ocean is better off with them around.

Andrea130

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

An amazingly compassionate organization! I am so excited the angels have brought your wisdom to my path. Thank you.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am really glad that you are literally doing the dirty work that needs to be done,..unfortunately for most,..it's a case of "out of sight out of mind",..they can't see beneath the ocean's surface and don't realize the problem that you are correcting.

Thomas52

Donor

Rating: 5

The work that Ocean Defenders Alliance does is invaluable. Our oceans are the lifeblood of the entire planet and if they're unhealthy, we all suffer. I feel especially good about donating to ODA because of the conscientious way that donated funds are managed. I know my donation will be put to work and won't be used to line administrators' pockets.

Sandy104

Donor

Rating: 5

ODA are a boatload of angels for our oceans!!! Humans haven't given much respect to the watery heart of our planet, using it as a garbage pit with an "outta sight, outta mind" attitude. ODA is changing that cleaning up one murderous net, trap and leaky battery at a time. They're physically out there making a difference, cleaning up the human mess. More than that, they are educators, sharing what they see under the ocean surface to bring awareness to the masses. They would get 100 stars from me if that were an option.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

      10/09/2015

What an amazing experience! I volunteered as crew on the LegaSea and we cleaned up a bunch of debris in Long Beach. We had dolphins swimming around the boat and a baby sea lion came by to play with the divers. 
The rest of the team were awesome, from the super hero tech divers to the Captain to Kurt the Director of the program. I cant wait to go out with them again!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an amazing experience! I volunteered as crew on the LegaSea and we cleaned up a bunch of debris in Long Beach. We had dolphins swimming around the boat and a baby sea lion came by to play with the divers.
The rest of the team were awesome, from the super hero tech divers to the Captain to Kurt the Director of the program. I cant wait to go out with them again!

Rex U.

Donor

Rating: 5

ODA does great work cleaning old debris from the oceans helping to save marine life.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The work ODA does to keep the ocean clean and safe for marine life is truly amazing.

Amy_242

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Such an amazing group! They do so much to help and preserve our sealife.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter has been volunteering since she was 12 yrs old, and she loves ODA. Kurt and his crew do wonderful and amazing things for our ocean. I love my time helping clean up as often as we can! Thanks ODA!!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

ODA is the best. I am so impressed with the work Ocean Defenders Alliance is doing . ODA is cleaning up our ocean and saving the lives of countless marine wildlife . In bringing awareness and education to the public ODA is providing all with food for thought in how we can play a role in helping to improve our environment.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Ocean Defenders Alliance has a logical and focused approach to cleaning the ocean, which will help future generations of sea life and humans.
Tony

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA is dedicated and hands on when it comes to removing ghost fishing gear from our local waters. They also do harbor clean ups with middle school kids--passing on the passion to the next generation. I really do enjoy volunteering with Captain Kurt and the rest of the ODA crew. We get dirty, work hard, and have a great time.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 4

ODA routinely exceeds my expectations with their drive to remove debris from the ocen wherever they find it. They will take reports from divers, follow up on rumors from fisherman, investigate reported debris from the local authorities and ALWAYS get that trash out of the ocean.

Something else they do that I appreciate is involve a lot of young people in the process. Middle schoolers helped with two recent cleanup operations. It may seem like a drop in the ocean (teaching some kids) but it has a ripple effect.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We wrote a whole book with the top ocean experts from around the world called Sea Voices, and we can honestly say that Ocean Defenders Alliance is one of the most incredible organizations we have come across. They do their important work like removing debris from the ocean for one reason only ~ because they care! They do not do it to get attention from the media like some organizations, and they don't do it to line their own pockets! They are the real deal and the ocean is a better place because of ODA and they are also supportive of other organizations that help the ocean, they are non-competitive when it comes to who helps. Elizabeth & Duffy Healey

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked for many different volunteer orangizations. Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) has been, by far, the most rewarding and positive experience I have had. Not only is the volunteer work worthwhile, you can see the results of your efforts first hand, knowing that you have helped the oceans, living things of every make and model, and our world as a whole. Add to that the enthusiasm and passion of its founder Kurt Lieber and you have a recipe for something greater than its parts. There is not enough time or money to immediately undo all of the damage mankind has contributed to our planet. But, every little bit helps and we all have to start somewhere if we are going to make a difference. ODA makes a difference and is part of the change for the better.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

From everything I have seen, this organization has passion and integrity, two essential ingredients for every non-profit organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I needed to volunteer with a non profit group as a "check off box" for my volunteer commitment to achieve my black belt in karate. Once I started working with Kurt Lieber and his organization I saw how committed they were to defending our ocean resources, and I became a life-long fan. It is a professional organization and is the epitome of what my instructor says about thinking globally but acting locally. Recovering the abandoned nets have made a significant impact on the ocean wildlife.

1 William46

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the good luck to discover the Ocean Defender Alliance and the good sense to join them. Nothing but positive interactions with Kurt and the people who assist him in making the seas a better safer place. I have been welcomed and appreciate for contributions of my time an expertise whether they be large or small. I just completed a recovery event and wished we could have stayed longer. Now that I am back on shore I await to email for the next outing.

glendaw278

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

ODA is one of the most important organizations I am aware of that is doing hands on, pulling out the garbage cleanup of our oceans. I am happy to support them in my own small ways. The news they share about our oceans is informative and crucial to understanding the impact each individual can have - for positive or negative - on the health of our planet. Only with education can we hope to change the current path of destruction our planet is on. ODA makes good decisions and does amazing, planet saving work with the budget they have; all while educating supporters about why it is important for them to do what they do. I have designated them my charity of choice for donations when I shop online.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I support Ocean Defenders Alliance! What most impresses me is that ODA is the only organization that I belong to that is the real deal. ODA is 100% hands-on direct action. I live near the ocean in Orange County, California so I see first- hand how hard our expanding human population can be on the health of the ocean and its marine ecosystems. Ocean Defenders uses its resources to pick up ghost netting, abandoned lobster traps, carelessly tossed fishing line and trash. Our oceans are gasping for breath. Ocean Defenders reminds me of a giant oceanic activist action figure. I am forever grateful for ODA's direct, first aid to the Pacific Ocean.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering for ODA has been truly inspiring. The people involved are incredibly gifted in general and, more specifically, all are devoted to the ocean and to the planet. Kurt Lieber runs the best ship humanly possible. His knowledge of all facets, his concentration, his intuitive ability to know what's needed and to never put anyone in jeopardy all add up to incredibly successful and rewarding days on the sea. I revel in the accomplishments and in the spirit of comradery that abounds at ODA. This organization is top notch.

2 EarthKnight

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

A truly excellent organization!

I have worked with nearly 40 nonprofit organizations in various capacities over the last 26 years, and have known the Founder and President of ODA for more than 22 years.

Without hesitation, I consider Ocean Defenders Alliance to be among the best there is. Grassroots, effective, focused, and operating with integrity.

Please help me support them!

Advisor

Rating: 5

ODA is an amazing marine conservation organization that cleans the underwater ecosystem in Southern California year after year. It is managed with an eye toward leveraging donor funds for maximum impact. Untold numbers of marine animals have been saved by their efforts. If you care about the ocean and the future of our planet please consider supporting ODA.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ODA your clean up and caring for our seas here in Orange County have helped protect our sea life from perishing from Ghost Traps left behind as well as debris that is left on top of the ocean that can also cause harm and death to our sea life. You are the Angels of Our Seas and I have been on the boat first hand and worked closely with President Kurt Leiber to witness ODA's amazing efforts and caring for our Orange County Seas which greatly effects our comunities and lives. The seas survive...we survive. Many thanks to ODA and please help to support this wonderful non profit organization.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

No one in Southern California makes our coastal waters safer for marine wildlife by reducing dangerous man-made marine debris from vital habitat than ODA. Focusing on the professional removal of abandoned & derelict commercial fishing gear that poses serious threats to numerous species. In the process, ODA carefully liberates live wildlife found trapped in nets and pots that needlessly continue to capture and kill long after being lost by the fishing industry.