Great Island Institute & Ocean Defenders are Ocean Defenders

with Michael Fishbach of Earth Island Institute’s Great Whale Conservancy & Kurt Lieber of Ocean Defenders

A remarkable story is born one day when Fishbach notices “something that just didn’t look right in the water.” His crew approaches the mysterious floating object in the Sea of Cortez, only to find a humpback whale nearing its last moments of life. Fishbach builds the courage to jump off board to cut away the net entangling the sea animal while taking part in his first Nantucket sleigh ride. But even with only one knife, the crew was able to free the 30-foot humpback whale, and “Valentina” shows her appreciation through fin flapping and tail splashing as she swims away.

Rescuing pelicans, protecting whales, and collecting lost fishing nets make up a typical adventure when you’re Michael Fishbach. As the co-director of Earth Island Institute’s Great Whale Conservancy, Michael has been living to protect blue whales for 19 years. His passion for saving sea life has brought him to aid with marina conservation issues since he started diving in 1979, and has been doing so every week since then.

Another avid diver, Kurt Lieber of Ocean Defenders, and his group of volunteers, can be regularly found removing thousands of pounds of nets and traps up and down the coast of southern California. It’s not unusual to find several dolphin and sea lion skulls trapped in these abandoned nets; and Lieber dedicates himself to bringing awareness to marine issues while actively clearing the ocean of debris, and protecting sea life.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of debris can be found all over the ocean, and not many people are aware of the affect it has on sea life. It’s great to know we have people like Fishbach and Lieber working to raise awareness to these issues, and we appreciate their courage and dedication to helping our oceans.

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