WILMINGTON – Ocean Defenders Alliance, an organization working to protect marine ecosystems through meaningful action, recently welcomed a new member to its boat fleet: Mr. Barker’s LegaSea.
Two years ago, Bob Barker, longtime television game show host and animal advocate, donated $150,000 to Ocean Defenders Alliance to help the group purchase a vessel and major equipment for their work along the California coast, removing large quantities of abandoned or lost fishing nets and gear.
Roughly $130,000 was additionally raised through fundraising coordinated by Ocean Defenders Alliance.
The new boat will provide sleeping quarters for crew, a galley and an opportunity to set out on longer-range operations. Other features will include, a dive compressor and diver propulsion units that will increase safety and mobility, underwater camera gear and a small reserve for boat maintenance.
The organization currently utilizes its 40-foot vessel, Clearwater, for cleanups. The day boat does not allow for overnight stays and is unable to navigate to more remote sites. The furthest island it is capable of reaching is Anacapa.
Mr. Barker’s LegaSea, a 1987 50 foot Chris Craft, will work to cleanup areas off the northern Channel Islands – including Anacapa and Santa Rosa islands. The upgrade will also allow the traps to be kept in a separate area of the boat, explained Kurt Lieber, founder and president of Ocean Defenders Alliance.
“When the traps were in the same areas as the divers it was just an accident waiting to happen when we hit rough seas,” he said.
Mr. Barker’s LegaSea was launched earlier this month in Channel Islands Harbor.
“This boat will allow us to cover a longer range and we can stay out for multiple days,” said Lieber who added that the boat can sleep 10 divers. “This is a huge, huge difference.”
The Ocean Defenders Alliance welcomes volunteer boaters to join the cleanups where they can help captain a vessel and with boat mechanics. For more information, visit oceandefenders.org.