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Divers work to clear debris off California coast
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CHANNEL ISLANDS  (AP) — Volunteer divers have dredged up 900 pounds of debris, a half-dozen lobster traps and 1,400 feet of trap line in an effort to clean up the ocean around California’s Channel Islands.

The nonprofit group Ocean Defenders Alliance began scouring the area for abandoned ocean gear in September. They have found everything from anchors to decayed traps.

Last week, divers recovered a 200-pound net

The group has gone to the Channel Islands a half-dozen times, said founder Kurt Lieber, pulling enough trap line to stretch the length of 16 cars on a passenger train.

“We’re planning to be up there until the weather pushes us out,” said Lieber, 59.

Marine debris — even a cigarette butt — affects everything from the tiniest coral polyps to giant blue whales.

Ocean Defenders Alliance, based in Huntington Beach, formed more than a decade ago and has done much of its work around San Pedro. It has also worked off the coast of San Diego and Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

The SeaDoc Society at the University of California, Davis Wildlife Health Center launched its own gear recovery project in July 2005. The California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project has also worked off the Channel Islands.

One participant in the SeaDoc Society group said he once found an artificial reef with hundreds of toilets and tires off the Malibu coast.

“It was a real junkyard,” said Glenn Dexter, owner of Triton Diving out of Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.

Dexter returned a year later.

“It wasn’t fully recovered,” he said, “but it was coming back.”