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News and Media

News and Media

Note to reader: Be sure to check out the photo gallery after you read the article. We have over 100 excellent photos of our fantastic volunteers hard at work to improve the waters of Kaneohe Bay!

By Oahu Volunteer Coordinator & ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

Often times something “bad” can turn into something good. I’m sure you have experienced that and it’s kind of how I feel with our latest cleanup at He’eia Pier in Kaneohe Bay. 

The pier is on the windward side in Kaneohe Bay which is touted as the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Islands.

Mountains of Kaneohe Bay

I left the event feeling invigorated, proud, and overall happy. When I realized I had these feelings I questioned why exactly I had such feelings when I spent the entire morning with 64 other people pulling 75 tires out of the bay.  Around a quarter of these tires had dropped innocently into the waters because at one time they had been used as dock bumpers. The rest had probably been thrown in by people looking for the easiest and cheapest way to get rid (of their tires. So why would this leave me with such feelings?

The day started out gloomy and rainy. But at about the time when the Kahu (spiritual leader) was to give his blessing on the event, the rains stopped, and the sun was trying to peek out.

Kahu blessing ceremony

Kahu Elias gave a powerful, heartfelt Hawaiian blessing on our event and reminded us that we all were there to work together. Maybe some of us were the leaders (the head) but we could not do the event without the arms, the body, and the feet to ground the task.  It was a very moving ceremony and joined the group together well. 

Kahu talking to crew
Kahu performing ceremony
Kurt, Marjorie, and Deb with the Kahu

Then, energized, we got to work!

Divers ready to go into water
Volunteers ready to retrieve debris

Crystal Gray was already in the water with her camera and dive buddy Michael Dal Pra. She was trying to get some shots before the divers mucked up the water, which she did! Once the divers were in the water, lift bags started popping to the surface with tires attached.

Diver n debris
Lines wrapped around coral heads

See more underwater shots in the photo gallery!

The surface swimmers would assist the tires to the pier, where our mighty pier support started pulling them onto the pier.

Crew pulling together

Tire after tire, 53 times, the men and women pulled and pulled, adding the tires to the pile along with other random items such as fishing poles, hats, sunglasses, a drone and of course, a toilet. Of course!  The debris also included 2,000 feet of fishing line and 51 lead fishing weights.

Crew with Catch of the day including toilet seat

A long list of volunteer names coming soon!

You might be thinking “what about the other 22 tires?”  Those came from the beach and shallow waters running parallel to the pier. Terry Carwile was responsible, single handedly, for retrieving and piling them up along the roadside!

Terry with his tires

Just as we were finishing up and our divers were all out of the water, Aloha Junkman came to the rescue!  We loaded up two of their trucks with all 75 tires and they were off to Hawai’i Power for disposal.

Loading truck with marine debris for proper removal

A total of  8600 lbs was the check-in weight!

So again, why my feelings?  INVIGORATED because I watched all the people from different walks of life come together to do something good.  I felt PROUD to be part of such an amazing organization as well as such an awesome group of people.  And HAPPY because we had done something good to make the bay a bit cleaner than it was yesterday.  And the waters are looking better!  Our divers saw  lovely coral growth and the visibility is so much better than a year and a half ago when we first started doing our cleanups here!

Tires coming up

I want to give a big Mahalo to Bart Jingst and the entire crew at Sea Lancers.  Bart is the president of the dive club, the oldest dive club on Oahu, and has been invaluable to each underwater cleanup we've done at He'eia Pier.  They are like a well-oiled machine.  Here they are in the pic below:

Sea Lancers help ODA

Once set in motion, they get the boundaries of our work area established by setting up dive flags to make sure the boaters wouldn’t enter the area.  Then they set about getting their team to locate and lift the heaviest objects to the surface.  And trust me, these tires are heavy!  On average with all the mud inside them, they weigh 125 pounds each.  We salute your efforts!

Drone shot of cleanup site

Thank you to all the ODA volunteers including Aloha Junkman and Kahu Elias. Also, a thank you to Alison Keith for getting the disposal permit! 

Drone shot of team pulling tires

Kahu Elias' blessing for unity in our efforts truly came to pass. We’re thankful for the time and energy everyone invested!

Getting the word out about this debris that’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind can be challenging, so we are pleased that the local KHON news did a positive short piece on our work. First, check out this still photo from their coverage - looks like about 55 of us got into the picture!!

KHON covers the cleanup, crew gathers for photo

Second, be sure to watch the news story by visiting their website:

And lastly, be sure to check out our entire gallery of photos below!