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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen


June 26th began as a beautiful Hawaiian day.  You know the one: the iconic Hawaiian day with the bright colors, clear skies, blue ocean.

Volunteer crew briefing

When Mark and I arrived early at He’eia Small Boat Harbor, I was again reminded of this stunning beauty all around me. And when we peered over the edge of the pier I gasped! The water was actually clear! I could see fish! A puffer! Coral and rocks! Wow! Is it working? Is our hard work of tire removal paying off? 

As divers and pier support volunteers started arriving – 25 in all, we prepped the pier. Fisherman were kindly asked to move to a different spot as we blocked off the end for safety and to stage our work. A tent was set, ODA banners and dive flags were flown, and a table for sign in, water, and snacks was unfolded.

Glenn (on right) gives safety briefingGlenn (on right) gives safety briefing

Dive gear was pulled from vehicles and long-time volunteer diver Ed Sisino was well-prepared with his borrowed work van to haul the new eight-foot ramp he built to assist in hauling up the biggest and baddest tires!

A ladder was easily removed from the van’s roof top and attached to the side of the pier so divers could exit the water. 

Wayland Kwock pulled out an ingenious frame that he built to assist in hauling up the “smaller” tires. See the pic below!

Wayland pulling tire, contraption in foregroundWayland pulling tire, contraption in foreground

Also, see below, Ed's tire ramp. We need all the help we can get!

Ed Sisno's tire ramp

Ropes, ropes, and more ropes were staged along the pier for quick and easy access, and lift bags were pulled out to float tires which would help bring in the ones that were further out.

Crew before dive

More people, more dive gear until finally we gathered for our briefing to explain how the morning was going to work. 

And then… DIVERS IN! We’re getting better and better at making this tire-pull happen with the least amount of silt and muck being stirred up. While visibility was NOT good once tires were being pulled, it was a lot better than previous clean ups. 

Teamwork hauling out tires!

Yells rang out across the pier as momentum picked up. “More ropes!” “Need more people!”

Back and forth we all ran, pulling tires as the divers brought them in. Sometimes three, four ropes needed to be attached just to haul them up with three or four people on each rope, ramps in place!

Group haul

Mud flew everywhere and those on the pier where covered! Amidst all of the commotion, cheers would erupt as another and another and another tire was pulled!

And we have to give an enthusiastic shout-out to Tanya Borabora. She's the harbor master so she could sit back and watch us, but no! She "rolls up her sleeves" and gets down and dirty with all of us! We appreciate you, Tanya!

The wonderful Harbor Master & Teammate Tanya Borabora

While all of this commotion was going on, across the harbor, along the shoreline was a lone man, his blue ODA shirt bobbing back and forth. Last cleanup we had spotted a bunch of tires near the shoreline and with the low tide, we thought we would take advantage of the “easy” access and remove them as well. Kurt and Harbor Master Tanya Borabora eventually made their way over to help Terry Carwile with his task.  Anke Roberts joined the fun for some picture taking! These tires added another 71 tires to our total!

Thank goodness Terry has a good sense of humor (as you can see below) which most certainly keep him going through all that work!

Terry with his tires
Conservation work is easier when the crew has fun!

We were fortunate to have a KHON2 News photographer drop by for some photos and interviews.  This is so important to me because we really need to educate the public on what is going on.  So, thank you KHON!

Check out the great report they aired:

And then they rolled in with their trucks to save the day! Alohajunkman to the rescue! What exactly would YOU do with 110 tires? That is the biggest problem! Thankfully, we have these awesome guys, Matt and Luke, who are more than happy to lend a hand (and their work dump trucks) in assisting us. They have a passion for their community, and we could not do it without them! 

Aloha Junkman truck and ODA volunteers

I know what you’re thinking! So, where exactly does Alohajunkman take 110 tires (7,160 pounds worth)?  Fortunately, Kurt had been hard at work to coordinate with ODA volunteer Alison Keith for a drop off at HPower. We are also very grateful that HPower does not charge us as, well, the cost would have been astronomical!  And Alison is a gem for getting the permits.

Loading truck with hauled out debris

Do you see what is happening here?  Do you see the theme? This clean up would not have run so smoothly without the community.  Every one of you that helped made a huge difference. Whether you made a financial donation or were behind the scenes (like Carla who will edit this for me because I am way too tired after yesterday to see or write clearly) or whether you were on the pier or in the water, lugging tires or driving a dump truck, taking photos or being IN the photos… thank you!

Tires coming up
Rolling away tires

Wrapping ropesDeb -- doing her part -- wrapping ropes!A special monster tire’s worth of thanks to Anke Roberts for the photo documenting work she did! It’s a challenge to capture all the activity, but she always does a wonderful job so we can share our stories with you.

And to the houseless gentleman who finished up hosing down the pier, thank you!  Also, a huge thank you to my husband Mark England who puts up with me as I help plan these events and sometimes get stressed out. (It doesn't help that we bought a house and went on vacation just days leading up to the event!). But you know, every time we have an ocean cleanup event, I realize more and more that everyone comes through, and I have nothing to stress over. So, thank you! And Mark thanks you! :)

And as for our hard work paying off? Every little bit helps. I am going to hold fast to the thought that the waters were clearer because we’re pulling tires which means more fish, crabs, and other critters are able to come in and assist in filtering the waters for us.

Mahalo nui loa,
Marjorie Zensen

Crew with Catch of the DayCrew with some of the catch of the day. Many of the tires in a different location!

Divers (9):

Chad Schmidt
Crystal Gray
David Marcelli
Jess Hemming
Jethro Vecina
Michael DalPra
Paul Hasley
Ray Goody
Walker Embrey

Pier support (16):

Anemone Domagala
Anke Roberts
Casey Thigpen
Christine Pang
Dan Okamura
Deb Kaawalauole-Townsend
Gareth Uyeda
Garrett Cook
Glenn Roberts
Kurt Lieberman
Marjorie Zensen
Mark England
Tanya Borabora
Terry Carwile
Tyler Weller
Wayland Kwock

UPDATE on 6/30: We're so excited to find a "hidden" talent in one of our topside pier cleaners! Anemone Jones made a really fun vlog about the cleanup! Here she is below (center) with our Oahu Coordinator Majorie "Zen" Zensen and our new passionate volunteer David Marcelli. Below that, we'll share a link to her vlog!

Ocean conservationists Marjorie, Anemone, and David

Click on the following image to visit Anemone's YouTube page and watch this entertaining video:

Anemone vlog