‘Price Is Right’ for Gift to Ocean Defenders Alliance

Byline: Ambrosia Brody

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Bob Barker, longtime television game show host and animal advocate, has donated $150,000 to aid in the preservation of marine life on the ocean floor.

The retired host of “The Price is Right” donated the sum to Ocean Defenders Alliance in January. The gift will allow the group to purchase a larger vessel and major equipment for their work along the California coast, removing large quantities of abandoned or lost fishing nets and gear.

“We are all deeply concerned when we hear about whales, seabirds and other animal victims killed by abandoned fishing gear,” said Barker, in a statement released by the Ocean Defenders Alliance. “This is an ‘out of sight, out of mind issue,’ and it is time for exploitation industries to stop using our magnificent oceans as a dumping ground.

“Marine debris is a critical issue: Ocean Defenders Alliance is fighting for ocean life and, ultimately, this planet’s survival,” Barker said. “I am proud to sponsor ODA’s work, and I hope the public will join me.”

Kurt Lieber, founder and president of Ocean Defenders Alliance, explained that the donation would go toward the purchase of a 46- to 50-foot vessel and new equipment that will allow the team to work more efficiently.

The donation comes at a time when Ocean Defenders Alliance is starting to develop a working relationship with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, to work in more remote sites off the northern Channel Islands — including Anacapa and Santa Rosa islands.

A new boat will mean sleeping quarters for crew, a galley and an opportunity to set out on longer-range operations. The crew currently operates the 40-foot vessel Clearwater, which is a day boat.

The new boat will have a dive compressor and diver propulsion units that will increase safety and mobility, Lieber said. New equipment will include underwater camera gear to help document crewmembers’ activities, a new multimedia computer for the Ocean Defenders Alliance office and a small reserve for boat maintenance.

Barker’s donation is a “game changer” for the group, Lieber said. “We will now be able to go to remote sites and work there longer and more efficiently, and not have to come back for support all the time.”

Lieber anticipates purchasing a vessel within the next several months. Ocean Defenders Alliance will then need to outfit the boat for diving.

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