By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen
Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) joined a group cleanup venture in honor of International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 17th, combining forces with the community to clean up Kailua Pier on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
This pier is in the central part of downtown Kona, with a picturesque setting that includes Kamakahonu National Historical Landmark. This was the personal temple for Kamehamahi I the conqueror and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. This site has great historical significance in Hawaiian culture.
Kamehameha I united all the Hawaiian Islands and this site was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawai’i in the early 1800’s.
A community of ocean stewards!
Lead by Kona Honu Divers, Jack’s Diving Locker, and Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA), with more help from Ocean Conservancy, Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Kai Opua, and Body Glove, it was definitely a community effort!
Approximately 50 volunteers from ages 10 and up came out to lend their support this day – and it showed! We had scuba dive teams assisted by snorkelers near the surface each with a flag and float, and they were able to transfer bags to land-based support for sorting and data collection.
The Kailua Pier in Kona attracts a lot of foot traffic, such as the Ironman swim start- and end-point; it’s a popular fishing area; and commercial boat tours meet at the Pier daily.
Annual cleanups haven’t been done since 2019 due to COVID, so group leaders felt like there might be a lot of debris accumulating over the last couple years.
This day was the culmination of MANY people's efforts. Everyone made huge difference in their different roles. I want to mention our photographer of the day Pippa Swannell because you're about to see over 90 great images capturing a wide variety of activity! You can see that she really tried to capture many different volunteers "doing their thing." Be sure to look at the photo gallery at the end of the article as we could not include them all in the body of the article. Thank you, Pippa, for the documenting our day! To the right is a photo of Pippa on a dive last month when ODA teamed up with Kona Honu Divers to do a cleanup at Tako City.
Heavy items were lifted up the side of the pier with the help of lift bags and volunteer muscles. Bottles, fishing line, cell phones, cans, food packaging, clothes, and just about everything else one would need for a day out at the beach was found down there.
Divers were most excited to have recovered the following items: a Drone, a shopping cart, a credit card, and some usable Oakley sunglasses.
Cleaning Happened in Many Ways
Boat traffic, swimmers, and even families walking by offered assistance.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours surveyed the area prior to starting with some volunteers, and dropped buoys where they had spotted some larger items that divers were able to collect once the cleanup started.
Jack’s Diving Locker offered their boat, Diver 2, to haul up large tires with their davit and winch.
Body Glove was there offering pastries prior to gathering, and pizza post-cleanup!
New divers, dive professionals, canoe club members, and Hawaiian educators all came out to help for this event, and we bagged up about 1,000 pounds of debris in just a couple hours!
For Maura and her dive buddy, Robert, it was their first underwater cleanup, and they came up all smiles. “It was so cool, and I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it!” The ocean is grateful for all of our lovely volunteers, on land and underwater!
Shout Outs to All
Kona’s community really shines at times like these. There was so much energy, happiness, and willingness to help.
Thank you to everyone for all of your time, energy, and efforts. The photos of the hauled-out debris really illustrate just how hard you worked and how worthwhile it was!
Kona Honu Divers, Jack’s Diving Locker, and Ocean Conservancy brought some schwag and prizes for all our volunteers, too! Everyone went home with gifts for all their hard work and happy hearts.
Special Mahalo’s to Alison Keith-Francis for helping to make the arrangements to have a disposal bin available at the site on the day of the event.
Also, thanks to Apryl Sasaki of Pacific Waste for donating the waste bin for the day. They dropped it off and hauled it away with a smile.
Big thanks to Travis Schnepp and Jame Schaedel at the Harbor Masters office for making the arrangements to have the toxic materials hauled away, especially all those tires!
If you’d like to volunteer in the future, please let us know! If you’re on Big Island, please email for the next events, or check out our website at www.oceandefenders.org. If you can’t donate your time, please consider a monetary donation, to help us defend ocean wildlife from dangerous manmade debris!