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News and Media

News and Media

By Volunteer and Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

Imagine. A beautiful Big Island Hawaiian Bay – Kailua Bay. The blue waters are so clear, and the sun is shooting beams off the mountains, competing with rain clouds (the sun  won that game!).

Kailua Pier, photo credit marinas com

It’s busy though. A cruise ship is anchored offshore with tenders ferrying its guests back and forth. Swimmers are swimming their daily laps, kayakers, paddle boards, a glass bottom boat… it’s busy but it’s early! 6:30 AM.

Drone shot of the harbor, cruise ship off shore.Drone shot of the harbor, cruise ship off shore.

Then a small boat, Tanks a Lot, set up with a dozen or so of our divers appears and ties off at a mooring ball.Captain is none other than our very own Jeff Milisen who organized this cleanup!

Drone photo of the Tanks a Lot with ODA divers onboard.Drone photo of "Tanks A Lot" - part of our "fleet"!

About the same time – ODA’s dive boat partner – the Body Glove boat, Kanoa II, usually full of tourists but now full of Hawai’i residents, pushes off Kailua Pier to make the journey to the middle of the bay, not far from Tanks a Lot (also part of the ODA flotilla).

Drone shot of the Body Glove boat in harbor.Drone shot of the Body Glove boat in harbor.

Anytime a huge, NEW project begins there is a bit of “working things out” no matter how well things are planned. And this event was no different. But from my position topside on the Body Glove boat, I  saw people come together and work very quickly through unexpected obstacles!

Volunteers this day were: Taylor Altshule, Adam Beckman, Michael Bell, Jeremie Betts, Maggie Brown, Juan Chacin, Erin Clement, Kay Cooper, Stephen Coughlin, Jacques Delorme, Mark DeMoss, Mark England, Andy Feiferak, Chris Funada, Camilo Giorgio-Macera, Maile Goss, Morgan Henfy, Mark Hurtado, Shaylee King, Tyler Korte, Joshua Lambus, Kelly Logigian, Leao Manso, Jeff Milisen, Sarah Milisen, Sage Nicholson, Calvin Otis, Cuyler Peck, Elias Roberts, Sascha Ronin, Mikena Shay, Shari Sickso, Alex Skidmore, Teyvin Spinney-Kuahula, Stephen Sulivan, Brian Sward, Erika Wallar, Tony White, Marjorie Zensen and Harmon.

Soon divers on board Tanks a Lot were jumping overboard. Why? Now this is the sad part! Our goal was to pull up at least 60 tires that lay scattered on the ocean floor. (If you didn’t read Part 1 of this venture, written by Jeff Milisen, please do so! He spearheaded this clean up and has his own story to tell.) The snorkelers aboard our group’s other boat Kanoa II waited somewhat impatiently for the first lift bag to appear and as soon as it did, snorkelers were off to retrieve it and the tires that were being pulled up underneath the bag.

Then another lift bag popped up and another and another. Some bags had one massive tire or two or five! No matter the number, it was not easy for the snorkelers to corral them into groups and secure them.

Snorkler moving one tire.
Managing 2 tires!
Volunteers wrangle 5 tires!

Body Glove employees manned lines from the boat to help secure bundle of tires  while others watched for more lift bags and kept an eye out for safety. Again, it took a bit to fine tune what needed to be done and there was some trial and error, but things were going smoothly. And everyone was safe.

All of a sudden from my position at the surface, I heard a low rumble. I looked up to see, well, a barge. A big old rusty barge with a lovely, lovely crane on board! Blue Ocean Mariculture had arrived! What a wonderful sight.  The small crew aboard the Kanpachi 3 maneuvered the barge as close as possible and that beautiful crane started hauling up bundles of tires. It was not a fast procedure; it took time and patience, which the crew had plenty of.

Body Glove boat and barge

While that was going on, more lift bags were showing up at the surface. Some of the lift bags were huge and pulled to the surface large groups of tires that had been previously bundled to expedite the process. 

Lift bags gathering at the surface

The Kanpachi 3 is not used to being in tight quarters with other boats and a dozen or so of our ODA snorkelers made it even more challenging. But her captain was skilled in controlling her and kept everyone safe!

Drone shot of Kanapachi barge and lift bags

But all too soon the divers appeared, ready for their surface interval (break from diving). They had been working hard at 60+ feet and safety protocols are not to be ignored! The snorkelers also had a little break but before long it was back to work for everyone. We had a schedule to keep!

As time dictated the end to the day’s cleanup, we had  yet to really have any idea how many tires had been pulled. It wasn’t until we met up with Kanpachi 3 at her slip and the tires were craned off and into Junk Authority Hawai’i’s  truck that we were able to count. Sixty-one (61) tires. It took two trips to Big Island Scrap Metal, but Junk Authority Hawai’i was eager and happy to be involved!

Unloading barge
Unloading barge
Unloading barge
Unloading barge

As the Kanoa II made its way through the bay we were met by a pod of spinner dolphins! I am positive they were celebrating Earth Day with us and thanking us for cleaning up their home.

So Many People & Companies to Thank!

Mahalo nui loa (thank you so very much!) to all of you who donate to ODA. Without you we wouldn’t have lift bags, lines, and all the tools needed for tasks such as this.

Next time any of you decide to donate to a cause can you consider ODA? Personally, I cannot express to you how thankful I am to have appropriate tools to get the job done, safely.

And  thank you Body Glove for the use of your boat and your enthusiastic and eager employees!

Thank you, Blue Ocean Mariculture, for your barge and crew. Honestly, it would have been impossible without you.

Junk Authority Hawai’i, I loved your spirit and happiness in helping. Another critical and unique role.

Kona Honu Divers, thanks for the tanks, and a thank-you also to Kohala Divers for the extra dive gear.

Mahalo to Chris Funada for taking these fantastic underwater photos and and both Elias Roberts and Tony White for the drone footage (from which we are first sharing still photos)!

Sarah and Jeff MilisenSarah and Jeff MilisenAnd lastly, Jeff and Sarah Milisen, you both are rock stars! I know you don’t organize these events to receive praise. Your hearts are genuine, and I love that about both of you. You truly care. Mahalo.

And all those who gave their day to celebrate Earth Day in this special way,  mahalo.  The dolphins thank you.

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If you haven't already read Part 1 of this story - please check it out now!