"Doing the Right Thing When no
One is Looking"
Harry Ingram, Allan Drexel, Wes Morrissey and I recently got
back from a dive trip from Catalina Island. The water and air
temperatures were rising, visibility is improving and I did
manage to shoot one white sea bass. We heard some croaking at
several of the west end, front side popular dive spots and
things seemed to be moving in the right direction for a great
season. The high point or low point of the trip wasn't a big
fish we shot but rather an illegal, abandoned gill net found at
Johnson's Rock. I was diving
on the east side of the bed when I came across a dead sea lion
floating in a net. At first, I thought it was an isolated net
but as I started to follow it my stomach tightened. For several
hundred feet in both directions, the Wall of Death became very
clear. It killed indiscriminately. There were 5 to 6 sharks, one
being a five foot blue, 3 birds, 3 sea lions, 5 white sea bass,
one being 35 lbs., Garibaldi's, perch, Sculpin and at least a
hundred lobsters were tangled up with the assurance of their
death close by.
I yelled to
Wes to come over and we just paused to capture the underwater
tomb. As Wes went back to the Half Dozen to get Harry and his
tank, I started to cut out both sides of the immense net. I
started on one on the bottom part of the net which has a line
with weights on it. It
had wrapped around the base of several large rocks and the net
itself had become encrusted on the rocks. It took me 20 dives
to about 25 ft to remove the net from these larger rocks. After
doing this for quite awhile on pure emotion, I finally realized
how dangerous this was when I started to tangle up in the
webbing on the bottom of the ocean floor. With nobody spotting
me, I started to be a little more cautious. Just about the time
I had exhausted myself, the Calvary had showed up in the form
Harry Ingram with his new BC and tank setup. He was able to go
down and remove the bottom of the net from the remaining
structure. He too, had the experience of being tangled in the
web of this killing beast. Harry is always prepared and what I
witnessed next would go down in salvage history.
I was spotting Harry and knew how heavy the bottom of the net
was because I had been pulling it for the last 45 minutes.
There were so many fish and a big Blue sharks tangled on this
end that the weight was just too heavy to pull up. All of a
sudden to my complete amazement, a lift bag was inflated and
started to pull the entire cluster off the bottom of the ocean.
Jacques Cousteau was applauding Harry's ingenuity and efforts.
Once to the surface, we made the decision to bring my boat in
and haul out the net. We were on high alert because the boat
was ten to fifteen feet away from a rock that was now high and
dry. The tide was dropping and time was of the essence. After
several attempts the props being tied up twice we managed to
pull the net on board and get it out of the kelp bed.
From there we brought it in on a beach and spent the next two
hours cutting out at least a hundred lobsters. Some of the
lobsters were 5 pound plus and one was 8 pounds. As we all
started to feel good about this huge undertaking, we started to
think about the larger live lobsters that were
up on the beach. There was at least seven or eight "Nice Size
Lobsters" that would of made a nice reward for our good deed.
As the four of us sat on the beach totally exhausted and
reflective, I was reminded of a saying that was told to me long
ago. "Character is the thing you do, when no one is looking."
With that we let every single lobster go and truly felt like we
had done our good deed for the day!