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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

I always tell my 83-year-old mother about our cleanup endeavors here on Oahu.

Sylvia Earle and KLHer usual response is that since she lives in North Carolina she really doesn’t need to do anything and what happens in the ocean doesn’t affect her. When I hear this, several of Sylvia Earl’s quotes come to mind and I try and pick a simple one.  Like this one, “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you are connected to the sea. No matter where you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea.”

And when she says that she is too old to do anything, I think about Sylvia Earle, older than my mom, and I quote her again with, “Everyone has power. But it doesn’t help if you don’t use it.”  I bring these two ladies into this report because after our dive yesterday at China Walls I was thinking about how long I, at the current age of 53, will keep on doing these cleanups. 

Volunteer BruceAnd then I looked across the boat to see Bruce Gordon. He’s probably around the age of my mom and Sylvia, and he comes to pretty much every cleanup dive that we do with our boat partner Island Divers Hawaii!  He comes out on the boat, helping wherever he can. Then when we dock, we sort our findings and Bruce is right in there helping.   He takes all of our fishing weights, melts them down to create dive weights or these nice little paper weights as a reminder for us to always think about how our actions impact the environment. 

Silver fish
Gold fish weights

On March 12th, our cleanup dive to China Walls was a little sporty but, as always, Captain Tim Hollingsworth safely dropped us in the water.

Fishermen on cliffs of China Walls

Once we got in the water it wasn’t too bad. There was a current but we all can handle it.

The visibility was good, and our 13 divers got right to work with Instructor Anna Sorrentino watching over us.  Newcomer Scott Alsabrook, Salvador Avila, Henry Bennet, Chris Denton, Mark England, Pam Hodder, David Lewis, Arline Marionneaux, Dan Okamura, Glenn Roberts, Ed Sisino, Rose Zhang and me, Marjorie Zensen, all worked for a good solid half-hour. 

Diver Glenn Roberts removing line

But don’t think it is ALL work! Every now and then we spot something interesting, and I think the best yet is when Ed Sisino found an octopus that had used a pile of lead fishing weights to disguise his home (see picture of the octo lair, but you can't see the resident)!  Resourceful little octopus, but he doesn’t know how toxic they are, so now that we took them, he'll have a cleaner abode. ;-)

Leaded Octo lair

We also saw plenty of line wrapped around the coral.

Line on coral

On this dive we gathered quite a nice haul of fishing line and wire, hooks, tin cans, and about 200 pounds of weights.

Crew with Catch of the Day

We had two very, very heavy buckets to haul up at the end but they were brought up successfully with our trusty lift bags that pull them to the surface. We’re all thankful for Captain Tim’s excellent handling of the boat and for him safely delivering us back to the dock.


For many of you, like my mom, you may not live near the ocean or maybe you are “older.” As I constantly remind my mom, you can and are doing something when you use a reusable bag at the grocery store or when you say no to that drink straw, when you recycle or reuse, or when you make a donation to an organization like Ocean Defenders Alliance to help us to be able to get out on boats and do our thing! 

Let me leave you with one last quote from our friend Sylvia Earle, “Our past, our present and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.”

Mahalo nui loa

Marjorie Zensen