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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader & ODA Advisory Board Member Sarah Milisen

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) is back at it again, teaming up with students at Kohala Divers this summer with a volunteer program for students called GIVE.

ODA table with students around

These volunteers come from all around the world to learn Hawaiian history, cultural practices, and help GIVE back to the community…and one of their days was an ocean cleanup!

Two groups of 14 divers went through their full Open Water Certification course with one of ODA’s partners Kohala Divers (KD) -- one group in June and the other in July. The classes were taught by KD’s instructors, Keleen Lum, Kay Cooper, and KD’s owner herself, Rebekah Kaufman. These instructors were top notch – teaching everything from shore entry procedures to how to environmentally-consciously clean up the reef.

Diver entryway

Once certified, they jumped straight into cleaning up the Kawaihai Surf Park: a local hangout spot for fishing, relaxing, and swimming at the beach. The first cleanup was held on June 17th and the second on June 15th.

Buddy teams were assembled, and each team had some time to clean up on land (so the trash doesn’t have a chance to get out into the ocean!) and underwater.

Divers suiting up
Divers forming buddy systems

Spectators joined in to help and asked lots of questions along the way, giving praise to ODA and Kohala Divers for their efforts.

Thankfully, there wasn’t too much underwater to find, but there is always fishing line. The newly-trained divers were very careful to extract the fishing line that was wrapped all around a beautiful live coral head – freeing the coral and getting line and lead out of the ocean!

Crew with Catch of the Day

The divers counted and recorded all their underwater findings, and afterwards were awarded ODA certificates for their efforts.

Friends! The author of this article, Sarah Milisen, it a great addition to our team. She is not only our chapter leader for the Big Island (managing volunteers and coordinating cleanups), but she's on the ODA Advisory Board -- check her out her page!

Mahalo, new divers – you are now Ocean Defenders and on the forefront of keeping the oceans healthy and debris free!