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News and Media

News and Media

Editor's notes:

UPDATE: Be sure to look at our photo gallery now with AMAZING underwater photographs! The conditions were very clear, so Crystal was able to get great shots to document our work.

Please be sure to check out the video footage Gary got (below)! It very clearly illustrates what it's like to be on the ODA Oahu Dive Crew!

By Gary Liebmann – ODA-Oahu Dive Master

Sunday afternoon, the southeast corner of Oahu greeted us with another spectacular day of perfect weather as we prepared to get back out in search of abandoned fishing line and lead! Here're some shots headed to the dive site:

First and foremost, we would like to extend a special thanks to our new partners, Aaron’s Dive Shop (ADS) in Kailua, we were finally able to get back on the water after more than four months without a boat.

Many thanks to Aaron's Dive Shop owner Warren Murray for your generosity and desire to partner with Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) to give-back to the oceans, and to General Manager Rachel Winn for all your help and support in making these outings happen!

Aaron's Dive Shop General Manager Rachel Winn and Owner Warren Murray Aaron's Dive Shop General Manager Rachel Winn and Owner Warren Murray

We've already done a few cleanups with ADS, but not from aboard their vessel, so this was an exciting day. Our earlier efforts together were at He'eia Pier on October 31, 2023 and at Poka'i Bay on December 2, 2023.

Here's their shop at 307 Hahani Street in Kailua:

Aarons Dive shop storefront

Back to our debris-removal expedition...

Things don’t always go off as expected and today was no exception. The event this Sunday was scheduled the same day as the Honolulu Marathon, and even though the marathon was pretty much over by 1:30 in the afternoon, that didn’t seem to help at all with the traffic!

As luck would have it, all the volunteers managed to make it in just enough time to see ADS’s boat Na Makana pull up at the Maunalua Bay Boat Launch, Captained by John Hansen.

Ocean Defenders Crew at the dock
ODA Hawaii Divers and Boat Crew preparing for expedition

The Na Makana was a welcome sight! After ADS unloaded their last charter for the morning, a very friendly Captain Hansen welcomed us aboard, gave us the boat briefing, and shortly after we were off.

Once underway, our Dive Team Coordinator Glenn Roberts gave us all a rundown on how the ODA cleanup should be conducted.

ODA Volunteer SCUBA Divers prepare to remove ghost gear

Our crew this day included regulars Mark England, Wendy Good, Michael Dal Pra, Crystal Gray, Pete Quinn, Temple Liebmann, Marjorie Zensen, Rose Zhang, and me (Gary Liebmann). We were joined by four amazing and enthusiastic new volunteers at this event: Ellie Jones, Bill Metzler, Corey Nevels, and Baily Young. We all made sure they were up to speed on all the procedures of diving for debris removal.

After the logistics discussion and my dive safety brief, we began to gear up for the short drive out to Spitting Caves in Maunalua Bay. We spent this time preparing and getting to know the new volunteers.

It wasn’t long before our boat crewmember and topside photographer, Temple Liebmann, began to capture images of comradery and like-mindedness that only an ODA event can foster!

ODA Oahu Divers ready to haul out abandoned fishing gear
Ocean Defenders Oahu happy to clean the ocean
Gary with talks with divers about cleanup

After the short ride out, Glenn and Captain John decided to pick a spot in between Spitting Caves and Fish Camp on the South facing shore of Hanauma Bay State Park. There’s a lot of fishing activity at this spot and some of our volunteers had scouted this area in the previous months, which is helpful.

Once everyone was geared up and ready, Captain John expertly positioned us for a perfect drop off. We did two separate drops in teams of six and once everybody was beneath the waves, the timer was set for our 30-minute clean up dive.

Aaron's Dive boat with ODA volunteer divers

The conditions could not have been better. A little choppy on the surface, but this is always expected on this part of the island. Beneath the sea, there was little to no current and the visibility was easily 60-70 feet. It was perfect for a cleanup!!

Almost immediately after hitting bottom, at about 55 feet, it was evident this area needed our help! 

You didn’t have to look long before you saw the mess of tangled line in the coral heads and lead weights littering the bottom. Two buckets were positioned on the ledge of the wall at about 35 feet for divers to deposit their debris into, and divers got busy cutting and collecting.

ODA volunteer Divers working the reefs

Unfortunately, sometimes the coral heads are already damaged by the fishing line, like this one tha tour diver found broken off. It's still important to remove the fishing line so it doesn't float around and catch on another coral head.

Diver removing debris from broken coral head 2 1200w wm

Check out the video footage I was able to get. I think it well conveys the work the crew was doing, especially capturing work being done to disentangle long lengths of fishing line from coral heads.

Please share this video with your friends so they can understand, like you do, the problems our coast waters are facing!

Ocean Defenders Marine Cleanup Divers working the reefsEveryone did a really nice job delicately removing line and lead from the coral while ensuring that no damage was done in the process; not an easy task! Crystal was busy videoing the event while I, as our dive master, was monitoring the divers to ensure there were no problems. 

Before we knew it, 30 minutes had passed, and Dive Coordinator Glenn Robertson called the dive. The two big buckets were full!

While Glenn and Mark England were raising the buckets with lift bags, the other divers were safely led back to the boat where Captain John was ready to help retrieve all safely back onboard the Na Makana.

Once back on shore, we unloaded and thanked John for a job well done and the Na Makana was off to its home port.

ODA Oahu Crew with Catch of the Day

A new volunteer, Dive Instructor Baily Young, was kind enough to let us use the back of his pickup truck, which was festively decorated with the Grinch, to sort and document the debris and provide a unique photo opportunity! 

Our job was not quite done yet! Now we needed to unload and sort the rubbish we collected, then weigh it by type.

Crew sorting through the collected debris
Weighing buckets Mark and Gary
Tangled derelict fishing gear

After all was done, we ended up with 160 pounds of toxic lead fishing weights and 2,000 yards of fishing line. Not a bad day at all!!!

We had a fun and successful trip, and it was great getting together with friends, old and new.  Two of our very best divers and ODA Oahu’s long-time volunteers and close friends, Mark England and Marjorie Zensen, will be leaving us for the Big Island at the beginning of January. It is going to be sad to see them go as they have been instrumental in the success of ODA on Oahu, but we wish them the best of luck in their new adventures on the Big Island with our ODA partners there. We would like to thank them, give them our very best, and wish Mark a happy retirement!

This was a great start with ADS! We look forward to the New Year and a great continued relationship with Aaron’s Dive Shop, Captain John, and the Na Makana.

If you live on Oahu and want to participate in ocean cleanups with us -- either onshore or at-sea -- please email us at!