By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen
Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) teamed up with Kona Honu Divers (KHD) for their second joint underwater cleanup charter on Tuesday, August 30th.
We had made our partnership official with a public presentation on July 7th, 2022, and our first ocean cleanup on the 12th at Tako City, a deep dive site that sits just off the coast from the Kona Airport.
For this outing our plan was to revisit the same place, and haul out all the fishing line on that reef that we were unable to grab on the previous cleanup. Once we arrived at the dive site, I gave a thorough briefing as to where the debris was located and how we operate in pairs or groups, and divers jumped in and set off in teams to conquer the fishing line.
We had a full boat of volunteer divers: Ryan Beberwyck, Laura Cartwright, Juan Chacin, Donna Goodale, Nathaniel Ksiazkiewicz, Kaleb Matlack, Meghan Murray, Dot Norris, Bo Pardau, Jamie Pardau, Laura Posson, Doug Posson, Chris Roberts, Cheryl Robinson, Donna Slevers, Pippa Swannell, and me.
Along the way, dive team Laura and Doug Posson came across some line in shallow water. Doug came back on board to tell the remarkable story: "I saw the orange float on a super light line. Got the float in hand and followed the line to get it off the reef. Once it was free of the coral, I noticed a poor little Hawaiian squirrelfish on the end of the line. Laura came over to help. Since we couldn’t see the hook, she cut the line as close as possible to the fish. It happily (and quickly!) swam away!" Great work, Laura and Doug!
Another find-of-the-day made for the talk of Kona Honu Divers for the rest of the week. Dot Norris, an avid volunteer here for many of our ODA cleanups, scored a really lucky find at Tako City: a large men's 14-karat gold wedding band! What a lucky gal! She let everyone check out "her precious" after the dive. Having been very careful on the dive not to lose it, everyone was so happy for it to be safely on board!
For those divers not so fortunate to find gold underwater, they were happily visited by one of Hawai'i Island's resident monk seals. One of only 1400 animals in a highly endangered population, she made sure to inspect ODA's work to deem the reef safe.
After everyone came up, they all agreed, "This site is spotless, and we can move onto somewhere else!"
After an incredible first dive, and a newly cleaned dive site, these divers needed something new. There's been some newly installed buoys attached to the reef just around the south side of Keahole Point, so I recruited a volunteer to survey the area on the surface interval (break from diving) with our ODA DPVs (Diver Propulsion Vehicles).
Kaleb and I found a safe, secure spot to moor the boat up, and got divers in on their first ever dive at this site, nicknamed Trail of Tears (for the Teardrop Butterfly schools).
Divers got right to work filling their bags with line and lead. Several of the dive teams made three separate trips up to the boat to unload their bags! Great job, team!
All 18 divers on board agreed, “we need to go back there!”
Teams found live coral-heads entrapped with fishing line, large lead weights strung about the dive site, and much more they weren’t able to grab. This means we will be back!
Dive team Alan Satterwhite, staff of KHD, and Kaleb Matlack, our hearty and voracious repeat volunteer, took the DPVs for a dive and spotted, pulled, and bagged several bunches of debris.
Our team fully filled a large trash barrel – mostly all from this site! It took four strong men to haul that trash bin off the boat – so full of lead!
One of our volunteers, Jeff Jones (the General Manager at Kona Honu Divers) estimates that he hauled up over 800-1000 feet of line himself!
Volunteers estimate they pulled out over 200 pounds of lead, and over 10,000 feet of fishing line in just two dives!! That means less toxic chemicals will be leaching into this habitat, and the wildlife will be able to swim freely without the hazardous lines ready to entangle them.
The Ocean thanks all our volunteers for such a productive day! The corals, squirrelfish, and monk seals have a cleaner reef to enjoy, thanks to Kona Honu Divers and Ocean Defenders Alliance for their support, and all our volunteers who invested time and energy to dive, haul, cut and bag all that debris!
If you didn't already hear the story about our first outing with Kona Honu, be sure to check it out!