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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

What a great day it was – kicking off our debris removal work in the coastal waters of the Big Island of Hawai’i!

Inaugural Outing for New Clean Ocean Partners

It was a sunny Saturday when ODA volunteers boarded a dive boat in Kawaihae Harbor, which is located on the northwest shores of the Big Island—the largest of all the Hawaiian islands. 

Kurt Lieber and Rebekah Kaufman of Island Divers, Big Island

This was our first day of on-the-water activities, December 9th, partnering with Greg and Rebekah Kaufman, who own and operate a dive company called Kohala Divers.

The boat was entirely filled, to the point that when we started posing for a group picture on the boat, it started listing severely to one side.  Oh boy, better take that picture quickly!

Ocean Defenders Crew before departure

There was no wind and very little wave action as we motored out of the harbor; an ideal day to look for trash that floats on the surface. Greg, also the boat’s captain, he told me about a day not long ago when they found (and hauled out) so much trash that it filled up the entire rear deck of the boat.

We headed north, up the coast for about an hour, but really didn’t find much floating debris to remove. So we decided to go for a dive at a site called Black Point Caves.

SCUBA Divers Give Back to the Ocean

Since this was our first time doing an underwater cleanup, I gave a special crew briefing about how best to remove fishing lines from any entangled corals that they might find. I also emphasized how important it is to maintain proper buoyancy, so as not to do any damage to the very corals we were trying to protect.

The ocean-defending volunteer divers on this outing were: Bill Boffing, Jeannie Erickson, Frank Krebs, Peter Krottje, Wendy Kucera, Jill Kupitz, Marla Lafer, Pam Madden, Susanne Otero, Joe Proulx, and Julia Rose.

As the divers were putting their suits on and getting ready to enter the water, we could see two manta rays swimming at the surface not far from the boat. The first two divers in got to actually see them before they swam away. Pretty exciting! We’re doing what we do for these ocean creatures…and all others!

 Dive boat at surface

Black Point is an exceptional dive site, and many dive boats frequent the spot. There are mooring balls at several points, which allows the boats to use them instead of dropping their anchors which damage the ocean floor. [Note: A mooring ball floats on the surface and is connected to a large, heavy anchor permanently attached to the seabed.]

Everybody broke up into teams of two to four divers each and headed towards the shoreline. After an hour of debris hunting, everybody kicked back to the boat without much effort because there wasn’t any current. Nice!

UW Diver with bundle of recovered line

All the teams had their bags filled with debris. Most of it was fishing lines, lots of lead weights, and some pieces of plastic to boot.

We headed back to the harbor with a sense of accomplishment. We successfully removed approximately 2,000 feet of fishing line, dozens of hooks and about 40 pounds of lead weights. There wasn’t a soul on the boat that didn’t want to DO IT AGAIN!

Crew with the catch of the day

And that we will. ODA is putting together a schedule to partner with Kohala Divers once a month for the next year. If you want to participate as a diver, a photographer or a deck hand, please fill out our Crew Application on this page and then keep an eye on our calendar.

Many mahalos to Greg and Rebekah and all our new Kohala Diver volunteers. We look forward to defending the waters of the Big Island with you, making it a much cleaner, safer place for ocean wildlife…and people, too!

Your support will help keep our boats at sea and our crew removing debris - thank you!

Contribute towards clean seas

Check out all the great pics of the day!