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News and Media

News and Media

By Oahu Volunteer Coordinator & ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

I never could have imagined how fun and rewarding it would be to "give back" to the oceans by removing abandoned fishing gear, plastics, and other debris.

But the truth is, even though it can be challenging, I love every minute of it, and I'm pretty sure my fellow volunteers do, too!

Here we are preparing for the dive and then getting our briefing from dive master Gary Liebmann:

news 2023 04 11 02 Loading boat 3 1200w wm
Crew members get gear ready for the cleanup expedition
ODA volunteer SCUBA divers' orientation

The ride out to China Walls was pretty smooth.

This is a picture from our dive site. It looked like it was going to be a good day for a dive, and it was.

Dive site for Ocean Defenders Alliance ghost gear removal

Isn't the water beautiful? We want to keep it that way!

ODA Volunteer Divers before splashing in

Our dive boat partner Island Divers Hawaii's Captain Matt positioned the boat Sea Fox to drop us divers at a new spot directly below where people frequently position themselves for recreational fishing.

Dive boat and Ocean Defenders ready to remove debris

There is a large flat shelf below the surface where fishhooks get caught and then when the fishermen try to pull their lines back up, they break, entangling in the coral and lava rock.

Divers removing debris underwater

It’s hard to access this shelf as usually the waves are bashing against the cliff but on this dive, we were able to hang out on that shelf without getting too bashed up ourselves! 

Divers work to carefully extricate the line from the corals

Along with the normal auto spark plugs collected, we spent a large amount of time following long sections of fishing line, carefully trying to free it from coral heads. This can be very time-consuming as we have to be so careful not to damage the corals!

Fishing line wraps around the coral heads.

Some of the lines were thin but other lines were really heavy gauge line (around 150 yards worth) with huge hooks at the end!

Cleanup diving crew is careful not to hurt the corals.

We pulled quite a few fishing weights as well, about 60 pounds worth. 

Hauling the retrieved debris onto the boat.As we surfaced, I realized that once again the conditions had changed on us. It was a bit of a chore pulling the Dive Propulsion Vehicles and heavy buckets with their cumbersome lift bags on to the boat but as usual, we got the job done thanks to our volunteers! 

Temple Liebmann was the Sea Fox’s dedicated crew  and was also our topside photographer. Crystal Gray was our awesome underwater photographer and Gary Liebmann did a fantastic job as our Dive Master. The rest of us (Henry Bennett, Ellie Cory, Michael Dal Pra, Mark England, Andrea Fiegle, Jim Hayden, Glenn Roberts, Rose Zhang, and me) pulled whatever we could from the ledges and walls.

ODA Crew with Catch of the Day

We have such dedicated volunteers who just keep coming back, month after month even though it’s definitely not the easiest dive. Thanks to all of you and to those of you that support the efforts financially and in many other ways! It’s a team effort for sure!

To see more of what's going on with our cleanups in the Hawaiian Islands, please visit this page. I'm sure you'll be able to see, in every one of our cleanup stories, the smiles and camaraderie amongst ODA's crews!