Mailbag: KelpFest was a giant success

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, 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!

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.

While underwater we were able to show off many of the animals that live in the kelp forest, including a few sea stars, various sea snails, some soft corals, other algae, various fish swimming by and a couple of warty sea cucumbers. Some of these animals were snuggling together on the reef, which makes one think that they aren't just slimy cold animals after all, but are rather cute in their own way.

KelpFest had a major impact on our community, and those of us who experienced it want others to know how incredible it was.

Debra A. Hill, M.D.

Laguna Hills


I am 12 years old, and I helped out with the Kelp Fest. I would like to share my opinion with you in hope that you will write something about it. The rest of the other Kelpers (people who helped out with Kelp Fest) feel the same way about this and I am not alone.

It was an experience to remember! I thought I knew a lot about kelp, but I was wrong. This wasn't just fun, it was educational! I worked there and even the people that work there learned at least one thing! There was so much to do, from swimming in our kelp forest to getting sunburned. I loved it and I told Nancy Caruso to sign me up for next year!

Lilli Cook

Via e-mail


Thanks for the story about the mural being painted over ("School, city, property owner working together to replace mural April 7). I am so saddened by these kinds of stories. There are laws on the book for California for these things. I know there are measures in place to protect publicly funded art. I will research them.

I hope any follow-up story gets published. I know I will research the school, winery and look for any way to help bring accountability to the firm that did this.

While my day job is in banking, I am an artist in my spare time and a wine collector. Perhaps some social media pressure through Yelp and Facebook can be brought to bear.

Peter Duffy


Editor's note: We published a follow-up story about the replacing of the mural on the front page of this week's Coastline Pilot.

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