Walker Underwater

Time to clean off the gear

Generally, the winter months have been the more active dive season for me. In Southern California, the water is generally clearer and there is less boat traffic along the coastal waters. But not this year. The local waters have been less then optimal and I have sat around waiting a little more than I would like. OK, so work and the lack of participation from others had something to do with it. But we did execute a few interesting dive mission.

Our dive team has been aggressively searching for new wrecks, particularly one. A P51 Mustang fighter aircraft. It was flown by a WASP pilot name Gertrude Tompkins-Silver. WASP stands for "women airforce service pilot". On Oct. 26th,1944, Gertrude "Tommy" Tomkin was to fly from Mines Field (now LAX) to Palm Springs. During her taxi on the runway, Gertrude pulled over to have her planes canopy repaired. It was reported that she took off later that afternoon but was never seen again. One eyewitness reported seeing a plane crash into the water in Santa Monica Bay, Ca. at approximently 4pm. Team member Gary Mocha has recently been able to interview this eyewitness which might help in the overall effort to locate Gertrude P51 Mustang.

Gertude Thompkin SilverP51 Mustang
During search efforts, several other boats and airplanes have been found. Identifying some of these has been difficult, due to the amount of deterioration caused by the septic bay water.

Another interesting dive recently done outside of our research team was on a "purse seiner" called the F/V Infidel. In 2006, this commercial fishing vessel became overloaded with squid. During their last haul, the nets were raised from the water with thousand of pounds of fresh catch. This caused the ship to turned over in the rocking seas. All of the crew were able to swim safely ashore. Commercial salvage efforts were abandoned after the insurance company paid the owner off. Since $$$= selfish greed, the nets and the ship were abandoned, leaving a curtain of death for hundreds of unassuming fish, sea lions, crustaceans and birds.

Infidel ghost nets
Mike Reedy located the wreck days earlier and invited me out to examine the damage these derelict nets are creating. A local group called the Ocean Defenders Alliance, out of Huntington Beach California has been trying to salvage the nets on the Infidel since January of 2009. This is a none profit group of volunteers that spends their free time and money defending marine animals from senseless death. These guys and gals have their hands full because Ghost Nets like these are snagged on many other wrecks in the area. In fact these net reek havoc throughout the entire world. And they need volunteers and donations to continue.

Infidel Trawler net
Fortunately, we were able to spare the life of this innocent horn shark on this day. Hopefully he will not return to this death trap.

Ghost Net and Shark
Video of the "Infidel" wreck dive can be seen on Youtube.