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Mailbag: KelpFest was a giant success

April 21, 2011
  • KelpFest on Saturday at Main Beach attracted nearly 2,000 attendees.
KelpFest on Saturday at Main Beach attracted nearly 2,000…

I wanted to share with you some about my experience with KelpFest on Saturday at Main Beach. We had nearly 2,000 attendees! This event was coordinated by Nancy Caruso through her nonprofit called Get Inspired Inc. There were numerous press releases put out about this celebration of the return of the kelp to our local waters, and yet we saw no articles in your newspaper. Why?

There were so many volunteers who made this event happen, you'd need to check with Nancy to get the exact number, but my role in this event was to coordinate a Live Underwater Broadcast from the kelp forest itself that was viewable on a large screen on Main Beach, but also on UStream.tv, the same site that the NASA guys broadcast on live from the Space Station 24 hours a day. There were 11 volunteers on my production team alone — all of whom were the most enthusiastic, reliable and resourceful individuals that I've ever worked with!

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Our team consisted of: Jerry Peck, founder of Ocean Technology Systems, a world renowned underwater communications company in Santa Ana; Aras Mardosa, our "MacGyver" and technical director, who coordinated the transmission from the Kelp Forest on the beach; Debra Hill, M.D., line producer and the underwater host;

Robert Titus, who did the underwater camera work for the broadcast; John Walker, second underwater cameraman; Cindy and Ben Rhode, the safety divers and cable wranglers; Dirk Burcham, an experienced scientific diver;

John Lotz, an attorney in South Orange County who provided the boat, Space Monkey, which served as our platform next to the kelp forest for our live underwater broadcast; Robert Kollar, an attorney in South Orange County who served as topside support for our divers on the boat; Skip Leonard, our roving cameraman on the beach and coordinator for setting up our viewing area for the broadcast on Main Beach.

We made two dives that day and broadcast live from the kelp forest. Conditions were much like a foggy day on land, but underwater. The visibility was about five feet. The water had a greenish hue. Just like we have varied weather conditions on land, the same occurs underwater. Since we've had more storms lately, the underwater conditions reflected that with increased turbidity.

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