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News and Media

News and Media

By Oahu Volunteer Coordinator & ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

Conditions on July 16th were a bit questionable, so we opted to go to a Plan B scenario.

Plan B was something we had wanted to do for a while (eight months to be exact) so we were excited to put it into play! What exactly was “Plan B “?  Well, it was a recovery project! Not something we really wanted to do have to do but things are just not always smooth sailing! 

Ocean Defenders return to Spitting Caves

To back the story up and explain…about eight months ago we had a huge haul of lead. The lift bags did their job perfectly, but it was a rough, rough day and getting the bucket back on board proved to be extra challenging. In the end, the bucket cracked, separating  from the lift bag. At around 90 feet it found the sea floor and debris was scattered. We were so, so heartbroken!

Here's what our buckets look like - see a stack of them in front of Glenn (on the right):

Crew on back deck

Lesson learned: Keep the tools current! Things decay quickly here on the islands. Even items like plastic buckets get brittle over time! Thank you to our donors who make it possible for us to  purchase essential debris-removal equipment like buckets, lift bags, and other tools!  

The second situation we had was a couple of months ago. All was going well; from the ocean floor Glenn Roberts and Mark England  had successfully deployed (inflated) a lift bag which was intended to pull to the surface an attached bucket full of lead, fishing line, and other debris that divers had collected. The bag was lifting to the surface and the divers were making their ascent. All of a sudden it dropped and hit the sea floor at around 85 feet, intact. Photographer Crystal Gray was ascending with them and was able to capture a photo of the poor lonely bucket! Unfortunately, the divers were running low on air and bottom time and could not safely descend to retrieve the bucket. 

Here (on the current outing) you see how we use the buckets - setting them on the ocean floor and filling them with debris:

UW Divers removing debris

Lesson learned: Not really a lesson…but a reminder. This is why we keep our divers away from the bucket divers when they ascend! And we especially keep divers from being UNDER a bucket! Personally, this is one of the safety concerns I am always, always reminding the divers about. Especially divers who are diving with us for the first time!

So, back to yesterday! Mission:  Retrieve two escaped buckets and their debris.

The first drop into the rough waters off of Fish Camp was three divers, Glenn Roberts, Mark England and me, Marjorie Zensen.  We agreed that at 10 minutes if we did not find anything, we would deploy our surface marker buoy (SMB) to show our boat crew where we were. If we did find something, we would deploy our lift bag which would tell the crew that there was debris to haul out. Unfortunately, we had to send up our SMB, do a safety stop, surface, and wait for the boat…empty handed. We were three sad divers who climbed back on the boat.

Second drop was at Spitting  Caves. This would require more of a search and rescue type dive even though Captain Troy Diamond dropped the divers using coordinates saved from the original outing. The coordinates were spot on though and within minutes of doing search and rescue patterns the divers located the debris field!

Ocean Defenders are experts at spotting man-made debris and removing it.

Dive Master Gary Liebmann, Ed Sisino, Dan Okamura, Michael Dal Pra, and photographer Crystal Gray did a great job retrieving 156 pounds of lead, around 200 feet of line and wire, one of old bag full of lead as well as parts of our broken bucket (the logo sticker was in perfect condition after eight months of submersion…note to ourselves to thank the company that supplies our stickers!).

Diver recovers lost debris.

Overall, it was a successful day with the help of deckhands Temple Liebmann and Mark England’s son, Nick England.

Here we are with the catch of the day!

ODA Oahu crew with catch of the day

We DO have a new plan to retrieve that other bucket. Hopefully we can make that happen next dive at Fish Camp!

As always, a huge mahalo to our boat charter partner Island Divers Hawai’i for striving with us for a debris-free sea and also a mahalo to Captain Troy for keeping us safe! And thank you to our donors who help us go out there!

If you’d like to ensure ODA cleanup crews can continue removing marine debris including abandoned fishing gear, your contribution will help pay for fuel and supplies – thank you!

Donate to Support Debris Removal