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Lyle Davis

Long Beach Neptunes

 

"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 inside 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 of 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 piling 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!       

 

Lyle Davis