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News and Media

News and Media

By Volunteer Marjorie Zensen

I’m so excited to be writing from the Big Island of Hawai’i!

Park sign at site of cleanup

I loved my time on Oahu, working with Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA), cleaning up that part of Hawai’i, but now my husband, Mark England and I have settled down on Hawai’i Island.And with no time to rest, we’ve jumped right in the water, ready to clean up!

On January 27th, 16 hardy volunteers gathered at Kawaihae Harbor with volunteers from ODA and our partner Kohala Divers for an in-water and shoreline cleanup. Ocean conditions were not optimum but much better than they had been.

But first, we all gathere around for the safety and procedure briefing given by our ODA Hawai'i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen.

Mandatory ocean cleanup briefing by Ocean Defenders

Regardless, we were determined to get in and check things out!

ODA volunteer coastal water cleanup scuba divers entering water

We hauled a load of seven golf balls and 70 aluminum cans that had obviously been in the ocean a while and 29 spark plugs which are used as weights by fishermen.

Hauling out marine debris

Other items found included fabric items, rope and plastic fragments, a snorkel and mask, batteries, forks, cups and a toothbrush. We also brought to the surface 500 feet of fishing line and 13 pounds of fishing weights. Not a bad haul for our little group on a day of large swells!

While underwater I was amazed to see the differences in critters between the Big Island and Oahu! More motivation to protect these endemic creatures in our waters and so much for me to learn. Pictured here is a little pencil urchin. Don't worry - we returned her back to the water!

Pencil urchin encased in line
Volunteer begins to remove fishing line entangline a pencil urchin
The pencil urchin is free of entanglement!

Another interesting bit about the day is that we were joined by a couple from Portugal, Debora Laborde and Ruben Galante. This couple runs an ocean conservation nonprofit, known as Oceanum Liberandum which holds four Guinness World Records for biggest ocean cleanups. Here they are:

Our Portugal ocean cleanup friends

Their latest and most impressive cleanup was in May of 2023 when within 24 hours, 842 divers removed 7000 kilograms of marine litter from the ocean. This was definitely a huge effort which required many organizations and dive shops to come together for the good of our ocean! Thank you, Oceanum Liberandum for all that you do! And thank you for joining Ocean Defenders Alliance and Kohala Divers in our clean up. Personally, I was so inspired to have you with us!

As usual the sun warmed us up as we took a few moments to look over the items brought to the surface and took a group photo. What a great opportunity to meet new friends and at the same time, help to make our ocean a cleaner place!

Ocean Defenders Hawaii Crew with "Catch o the Day"

At ODA we’re thankful for Kohala Divers and the opportunity to come together for a good cause! And thanks to all the volunteers: Mathew Belcher, Brent Bowman, Juan Chacin, Kay Cooper, Mark England, Kerry and Garth Edwards, Lucas Fuhrman, Ruben Galante, Todd Hackets, Bob Hazel, Debora Laborde, Melinda Menchetti, Wendy Noritake, and Sarah Milisen our ODA Hawai’i Island chapter leader.

If you live on the Big Island and want to help out either onshore or in the water, please email us and we'll let you know about upcoming events!