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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

One more harbor cleanup under our weightbelt. ;-)

On Saturday, January 29th, ODA coordinated our 7th underwater cleanup of Honokohau Harbor!  Honokohau lies about eight miles north of downtown Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Overview of harbor

We’ve been pulling debris out of this harbor for four years now, and it never ceases to amaze me at how much stuff we pull out!

Our goal is to remove as much debris as is humanly possible in one group dive.  The waters here are really shallow ‒ from 5 to 15 feet for the most part ‒ and chock full of fishing lines, fishing lures, fishing poles, carpets, cans, batteries, and tires.

2018 Drone shots of work site2018 Drone shots of work site

You could call this a tire recycler’s dream come true.  The majority of boat owners here tie up used tires to the docks to protect their boats from getting damaged when a surge or wave pushes the boat into the dock.

Over time the ropes that they use to secure the tires become worn out, bust loose of the docks and drop the tires straight down into the shallow waters.  When the water is clear, you can see dozens of the tires sitting on the bottom.

We’ve pulled out thousands of pounds of them on each of our cleanups.  Today was no different.

We met up in the parking lot just above the boat ramps at 9am, and I gave a briefing to the divers and deck crew.

Briefing the crew

The divers were so charged-up, they started jumping in.  They were so eager that I didn’t even get a chance to get any pictures of them splashing in…

Over 30 people showed up: Ralph Adams, Tracy Bertovich, Matt Bogdanovic, Molly Bogdanovic, Caitlin Braithwaite, Justin Braithwaite, Alli Craig, Flora Craig, Tim Dalhouse, Paula De la Cruz, Barbara Espejo, Gunner Ganske, Donna Goodale, Mark Heiss, Frank Iwancio, Jeff and Terry Leicher, Margo Lillie, Joe Lillie, Jeffrey Long-McGie, Jeff Milison, Sarah Milison, Katie Molzer, Lance Olinger, Ron Richardson, James Sturz, Lori Walsh, Joe Weston, and Tony White. 

Whew!  That is a LOT of people who care enough about our oceans to spend four hours getting wet, dirty, hot, and beat up.

Tires coming up, Sarah

Even though it was an absolutely gorgeous day, this work is physically taxing, nothing like a day lounging in the sun on the beach.  Despite the physicality of it all, everyone had a great time.  I can’t tell you how much laughing and high-spirited talking was going on, with dozens of the volunteers thanking ODA for setting up the event.  Even people who were heading to or from their boats were thanking us for doing what we did.

Volunteers work hard to remove debris

As you can see from some of these pictures (check out the photo gallery below), the underwater visibility was not just bad, it was nil… But before we started stirring up the bottom sediments, the divers told us they saw some pretty cool animals down there. 

One that was really unusual, was a fish with wings, that walks along the bottom.  It’s called a “flying gunard.”  They get to be about 6-8 inches across and are rarely seen.  But this time there were six of them taking a tour of the harbor.  Jeff Milison let us use these images from his vast catalogue of pictures, so you can see for yourself how amazing these fish are.  Tanks, Jeff!

Flying Gunard
Flying Gunard

That’s Jeff in the picture, with an unopened bottle of craft beer that he found.  Of course, it wasn’t unopened for long…

Jeff Milison

We had a wide range in ages show up.  From old geezers like me, to two young ladies not even 10 years old yet.  Here is Flora and Molly, advising Joe on how best to move an overflowing cart of tires.

Flora and Molly with tires

When all was said and done, we had removed: 1,200 pounds of man-made debris and 29 tires.  For a total of about 3,200 pounds, wet.

Each one of the tires that we pulled were chock-full of mud on the inside well of the tire.  This makes them weigh at least 10 pounds heavier than they would’ve been without the mud.  We had to remove the mud with a hand shovel before we took them up to the staging area where we piled up all the debris. 

Cleaning mud out of tires

After posing for a few pictures of all the junk, we hoisted all the debris into a waste bin.  We then headed to our cars at 1pm.  Soaked to the bone either in sweat or saltwater, for some it was a little bit (or a lot!) of both.

Crew with Catch of the Day

I want to thank Jame Schaedel, Harbor Master, for allowing us to jump in the water one more time.  He worked with me on the scheduling dates and notified all the boaters in the area of the harbor that there would be divers in the water and to be on alert to their presence.

Also, thanks to Teri and Jeff Leicher, and the staff at Jack’s Diving Locker who helped set this up: Alli, Caitlin, and Matt!

It was a treat having two of our advisory board members there, Sarah and Jeff Milison.

Special thanks to Katrina Lee and Apryl Sasaki who work at Pacific Waste Inc., for donating the use of their waste bins. 

Also, thanks to Allison Keith for introducing ODA to Pacific Waste.  Wouldn’t have happened without you, Allison!

We have now cleaned about 80% of this harbor.  One more event and we will have covered the entire area.

Thanks to all who have made this such a fun and fruitful experience.  Together we ARE making a difference for the wildlife who call these waters their salty home!

If you're in Hawai'i and would like to see a list of upcoming volunteer activities, please check out our new Hawai'i Volunteer Activities page!