Slide background

News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) and one of our Big Island dive boat partners Kona Honu Divers (KHD) have “adopted” Keahole Point (also known as NELHA or O-tec) as their ocean cleanup site since July 2022.

ODA Volunteer Crew before ghost gear cleanup expedition

Our crew this day was (in alphabetical order): Ryan Beberwyck, Karen Bohner, Laura Cartwright, Erin Clement, John Coladonato, Kay Cooper, Jacque Delorme, Donna Goodale, Maura Hennessy, Jeff Milisen, Yvonne Khouri-Morgan, Meghan Murray, Jamie Pardau, Carolina Piel, Kurt "Buzz" Samuelson, Harvey Surprenant, Pippa Swannell, Bruce Watkins, and me (Sarah Milisen).

Amongst other outings, like the Kailua Pier cleanup and inside Honokohau Harbor, KHD partners with ODA by donating their biggest boat every other month for divers to do a two-tank charter cleanup. The divers’ donations go towards ODA and to pay the KHD crew for their day captaining, handling tanks and gear, and cleaning up after all the stuff has been collected underwater.

This Keahole Point project has been such a successful venture on Hawai’i Island, we deemed our initial dive site Sand Chute, (also known as Tako City), to be “clear of debris,” and our volunteer divers are so efficient, we have been finding less and less debris at Trail of Tears as well!

So, on March 28, I felt like we still had a lot of work to do at one of the remaining Keahole Point sites, and conditions were calm enough to take advantage of cleaning up the Point’s westernmost dive site, Pipe Dreams. See map below.

Map of Keahole Point dive sites

Pipe Dreams is known for the NELHA (Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority) intake pipes running through the dive site, as well as a large, discarded pipe off the drop-off that is a cool feature for divers to inspect. Since Keahole Point is the westernmost point of the island, and it gets very deep very quickly, it can have swift currents and large pelagic animals that cruise by. Humpback whales, dolphins, tuna, sharks, and frequently manta rays are transiting right off this dive site – which is an epic experience for divers, but also makes for a great “big fish” fishing site. ODA has been tackling the north and the south sites a few times now, we were all ready to get in and see how Pipe Dreams looked.

Critters Fish on the pipe

NELHA pipe cleanedThe intake pipe on NELHA’s shallow water pipe is around 80-90 feet, and jutting out right where fishermen set their lines, it was covered in line, wrapping each new cauliflower coral head in a disastrous fate. Meghan, Carolina, and I ventured that way and teamed up together to collect it all – giving these little budding coral heads a chance to grow without restriction. ODA volunteer Bo Pardau managed to get a glorious photo of the end result, free from line.

All the other divers were busy collecting line, lures, and construction material, while being pleasantly distracted by passing manta rays, a little green sea turtle, and even a hammerhead shark!

Manta Ray

Some divers were not finding much fishing debris to the north on their first dive, so I encouraged everyone to come down together and our ODA-donated DPVs would shuttle divers to the dense fishing debris area!

Divers removing line
ODA volunteers haul out dangerous abandoned fishing gear

Pippa, one of our lovely volunteers, and I dropped off divers around the fishing line and our hungry divers got to work.

Divers collect debris and take it to surface for proper disposal

With 18 divers in the water, we managed to bring up approximately 50 pounds of lead fishing weights, over 40 lures (with their hooks!), thousands of feet of fishing line, and metal and plastic building material. Approximately 300 pounds of debris was removed from the ocean by our incredible team!

Crew with Catch of the Day

One especially happy volunteer, Kay Cooper from Kohala Divers (another dive boat partner of ours on this island), was able to dedicate her day off towards our ocean cleanup efforts to see how Kona Honu Divers runs their cleanup dive charters. Kohala also has a similar dive boat... and there are some heavily fished sites up north on the Kohala coast... so – details about activating with that partnership hopefully coming soooooon!

A great team of ocean cleaners!

A BIG MAHALO to all our hard-working, dedicated volunteers for our continued ocean cleanup! If you are not able to come and dive with us, but would still like to help, please DONATE here!