By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen
Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) and Body Glove Hawai’i have joined forces for an inaugural trip aboard their new, fast boat The Kona Explorer.
Mikena Shay, Sustainability Coordinator for Body Glove Ocean Adventures, helped organize this with Sarah Milisen, ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader. With support from Body Glove’s management Michael Bell and Maggie Brown, we were all stoked about the new partnership!
The Kona Explorer is a fast, comfortable rigid hull inflatable boat (RIB) capable of getting in shallow waters close to the coastline.
Mikena and I had not heard of anyone doing a coastal survey along the Kona Coast, looking for washed ashore debris, so we thought that would be a perfect fit for this boat’s first mission: assess debris along the south shore of Kona, from the Kailua Pier to Miloli’i.
Offered as a snorkel or dry boat day, we had a variety of interested volunteers signup for the first trip. The boat holds a lot of guests without feeling cramped. It was quite comfortable as there are nice, cushioned seats with underseat storage, delicious snacks made in house… so, with 25 volunteers that day, we were all happy for a day on the water to clean up the ocean.
Cleanup volunteers and crew aboard: Captain: Erika Waller, Crew: Channing Fujihara-Kaai, Crew: Mikhail Watkins, Logan Asnuth, Brianna Phillips, Savannah Barnes, Juan Chacin, Keisha Colon, Cliff, Cayden and Teagan Foreman, Eric Franke, Mayara Guimaraes, Harmon Coffey, Gabrielle Hildebrandt, Ann Humphrey, Glen Markham, John Menton, Sue Menton, Bo Pardau, Jamie Pardau, Bayli Payne, Shaylee King, Mikena Shay, and me (Sarah Milisen).
Dive and snorkel boat operators occasionally see nets and buoys washed along our rugged coastline, and due to the sheer cliffs and inaccessibility, the nets and washed-ashore debris has nowhere to go but back out to sea. In these rugged areas of lava and cliffs, our expert captain, Erika Wallar, motored slowly in the undeveloped areas along the coast, as all eyes scanned the water’s edge, just underneath (looking for snagged nets on the shallow reefs below), along cliffs, and between boulders.
It was a spectacularly calm day nearshore and offshore, and we felt confident if we did find a net that we could deploy a team to climb ashore and grab it. Alas, the ocean was pristine, (which was a great thing!) but our team wanted trash! We found some small plastics ashore, and Channing Fujihara-Kaai (Body Glove crew and excellent waterman) donned fins and mask to swim ashore for any little bit we could find. We all celebrated the tiny accomplishments. Some in-water swim surveys were also done, and some GPS points marked for deeper items that needed SCUBA divers in future missions.
After the coastal survey was complete, we enjoyed unexpected snacks, delicious sandwiches and cold beverages (oh and the tastiest white chocolate macadamia nut cookies!). But we still wanted the trash! So, we headed offshore to find a current line. Current lines are known to accumulate floating debris, wildlife, nets, and plankton. Once we found a current line, some sharp eyes found a Target bag, some Styrofoam, and some packaging material. Mikhail Watkins was ready with a boat hook. It’s all about the small victories! Though we didn’t find the big net payout we were hoping for, we all thoroughly enjoyed Defending our Oceans. So many smiles, new faces, return Defenders, and new friendships made aboard the Explorer.
Body Glove and Ocean Defenders Alliance are planning quarterly cleanups in the future with their new partnership, so if you’re interested in becoming an Ocean Defender and making the ocean a safer, cleaner place, please email Sarah@oceandefenders.org to get on our mailing list!