Welcome, dear reader, to the first installment of our series “Crew Chronicles” where we’ll share stories of our wonderful volunteers – how they came to join us, what they do with ODA, and tales of their ocean cleanup adventures. Enjoy coming along on their journey!
By ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen
In January of 2020, my husband Mark England and I moved to Oahu.
Prior to our move we had visited the island in December of 2019 to look for a place to live.
I remember on the first day (actually, the first hour!) of “house hunting” I received a text from my son on the mainland asking how the house hunting was going. I had to admit to him that our very first stop of the day was at a dive shop! (Mark and I visited at least one other dive shop that day).
Later that day I went to the website of the first dive shop we had visited (Island Divers Hawai’i) and checked out their “dive club” page. I noticed that they did boat cleanups once a month and shore cleanups as well. What really got me though is that to participate in the boat cleanup you had to be Rescue certified. While I have been a certified diver since the early 1980’s, I had never taken the step to get my Rescue Certification.
Now back to January and landing on Oahu. Within days, I was signed up with Island Divers Hawai’i to take the Rescue Certification course. We were still in our temporary housing and SCUBA was my focus! Priorities, you know!
A week or so after landing, we attended a shore dive cleanup at Point Panic in Honolulu, and I was telling a couple that I was in the process of getting my Rescue so that I could participate. The husband, Ken Staples, pointed to his ODA shirt Oh wow, he represented ODA! Amazing!
From that moment on, Mark (who is a retired SCUBA instructor) and I were avid ocean cleaners. No, make that “ocean defenders”! It didn’t matter if it was an organized event or if we were out diving for pleasure. Any time we see trash, fishing line, weights, and whatever else we can manage, we remove it from the ocean.
During COVID restrictions the ocean was NOT off limits, so it was our priority to figure out how and where to park our car and jump in. There were days I went to the beach with just my mask and fins in hand and did a personal cleanup.
Mark and I talk about the ocean with other people whenever we can, and all our friends know what we do in our spare time. Education is key!
We’re not the only ones with stories like this. We’ll be bringing you more stories of ODA volunteers and their ocean cleanup journeys.
Some of our volunteers are divers and some stay on the boat as deck crew, helping to haul aboard the “treasures” we bring up from the deep. Other times we have beach cleanup volunteers like during our Earth Day cleanup at Magic Island. We also have harbor cleanups like our He’eia Pier clean-ups, where we have volunteers pulling tires up from the bottom of the harbor or bringing dump trucks like AlohaJunkman did to haul away those tires.
Sometimes it seems like (and I guess really it is) a never-ending task. Will bringing up a bucket or bag here and there really make a difference? It sure does make a difference for that one turtle, coral head, or eel that will not be entangled by what we removed!
And maybe that plastic we pick up that was breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces won’t make it into the belly of a fish, endangering its life.
This is just a speck. A tiny piece of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is what we use in our everyday lives. Maybe some of it truly is recycled or repurposed but a lot is not. So, think about your lives. What one thing can you do today that will make a difference? If everyone does something, we will eventually make a bigger impact. Not doing anything is just not an option! I have faith in your ability to “dive in” – no certification needed for MOST cleanup work!!
Don't you want to join in the fun? Please check out our Volunteer Page and let us know how you'd like to dive in with us to defend the oceans from marine debris! If you have any questions about volunteering in Hawai'i specifically, please email Marjorie.