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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen

Kohala Divers (KD) opened up their biggest boat, Namaka, to Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) cleanup crew for the first time last Thursday, May 18th!

news 2023 05 24 03 Crew before departureLR 1200w wm

Over 20 volunteer divers and crew boarded the newly painted and perfect Namaka – a 46-foot custom Newton Dive vessel. The goal was to visit Inner and Outer Crystal Cove for an exploratory cleanup trip.

Volunteers this day were: Robert Baikie, Karen Bohner, Jacques Delorme, James Fritts, Dave Giff, Larry Hanson, Maura Hennessey, Rob Johnson, Jennifer Johnson, Jamie Pardau, Bo Pardau (underwater photographer), Richard Shelton, Mike Simmons, Brian Sward, Alice Thigpen, Doug Watson, Tony White, Shaun, and me (Sarah Milisen).

And our illustrious KD Crew was: Kay Cooper, Rebekah Kaufmann, James Kregnice, Kelleen Lum, and Ty Widhalm (captain).

Kohala Diver boat Namaka

Crystal Cove in Kohala is a little set back away from the road, and some new restrictive access points are making it difficult for people to come down for weekend gatherings. But if there is a will, there is a way, and Kohala Divers staff felt like plenty of recreational fishing probably happens there, so there might be a need to cleanup this site.

Volunteer ghost gear diver splashing in

Divers donned SCUBA gear and teams jumped in guided by experienced KD staff: Kay Cooper, Kelleen Lum, James Kregnice, and Rebekah Kaufmann herself! Kohala Divers and Ocean Defenders Alliance formed a partnership years ago, in September 2017 when Kurt initially came out to Hawai’i Island and met with Rebekah, the owner. KD is all aboard with ocean conservation, so it was an easy partnership from the beginning! Hosting monthly cleanups with Adopt a Highway, Adopt the Blue, and now cleanups aboard their biggest boat, volunteers were excited to check out a new place and clean it up!

Kohala Diver co-owner Rebekah helps cleanup trashKohala Diver co-owner Rebekah helps cleanup trash on one of our Adopt-a-Highway outings in March!

We all jumped in at about a depth of 30 feet and we spread out into teams heading into shallower waters of about 5-10 feet. Some old fishing line was found, but inside reefs and ledges were all fairly clean!

Ocean Defenders UW Divers removing line

After an hour of searching, and some distraction from a rarely seen squadron of bigfin reef squid, we boarded the boat for a surface interval (break) looking for debris offshore.

Cuttle fish

Almost immediately we hauled in a huge, heavy pallet, leaching blue paint into the ocean around it.

Crew retrieving floating pallet debris
Marine cleanup Crew assess debris

Lots of little barnacles had attached on the clean parts of the wood, and a few crabs were rescued and returned back to the ocean.

Rescued critter
Rescued baby crab

We returned to Crystal Cove on the outer mooring (a place to tie up the boat when they’re in the water, so they don’t have to drop anchor), with a game plan to head south towards the ledges and points– and there is where we found the motherload of old fishing line!

scuba Divers removing entangling fishing line

Teams followed the shallows south, searching for debris, and some chunks of nets were pulled from coral heads along the way. Then, we rounded a ledge, and we all stopped, seeing a tangled mess of old, overgrown fishing lines buried deep into the coral structure.

UW Divers removing line

We all carefully extracted the lines, cutting around the edges of the overgrown corals so as not to disturb the coral structure. Our hour was up, and tanks low on air, so we all swam back to the boat to offload our debris.

Ocean Defenders Crew with Catch of the Day

Exploratory dives complete – we now know where we are heading for the next cleanup, as there is still much work to do down there! Volunteers pulled up an approximate 1500 feet of fishing line, nets, lures, lead, and some big hooks!

Recovered abandoned fishing line

Thanks to all our volunteers, and our generous donors, including Kohala Divers for their donated boat for the day!

Check out the report on our first outing with Kohala Divers in January 2018 – we’re thankful to have this ongoing partnership for debris-free seas.