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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) and Kona Honu Divers (KHD) have completed yet another ocean cleanup near Keahole Point on the Big Island of Hawai'i this month!

On January 17, 2023, our volunteer divers were all eager to head to our previous cleanup site to the south of Keahole point on Hawai'i Island after a nearly two 2-month hiatus. Swells have been huge, holidays have come and gone, and it was about time to resume our normal cleanups there via Kona Honu Diver's biggest boat, Honu One.

Crew before departure

ODA and KHD have unofficially deemed this site and another popular dive site known as “tako city” to the north as our Adopt-A-Dive-Site(s).

We always seem to find new lures, lines and lead fishing weights, as well as more encrusted, older fishing debris, so everyone was happy to hear we were heading over to the westernmost point on the Big Island for more cleaning!

Armed with 15 divers and two boat crew, we charged up to the dive site, clipped into the mooring, and got to work.

We had six new volunteers on board and nine of our dedicated veteran team, and boy, we sure dominated!

Our crew this day along with me: Barb Schnurr, Bob & Debbie Pecoraro, Carolina Piel, Dee Fulton, Donna Sievers, Ivan Vasquez, Jamie Pardau, Karen Bohner, Laura & Doug Posson, Laura Cartwright, Lucas Fuhrman, Meghan Murray, and Ted Frandsen. Our KHD crew was MJ MacMahon and Captain John Coladonato.

Huge shoutout and boatloads of thanks to Bo Pardau for the phenomenal photographs!

Diver removing debris

Divers are always told to keep off the reef when we work, of course, and to always practice neutral buoyancy, even with a heavier and heavier collection bag, but we all weren't quite prepared for the surge underwater! We had 20-foot surge, which made items in cracks and crevices unreachable.

Delicate work removing fishing line from coral heads

Meghan Miner Murray, one of our regular volunteers, said, “I had to point at the object to keep it in my sight as the water swished around, until I was able to stop and collect it after the swell set."  Great job Meghan!

One of the great benefits of working for a debris-free sea, is that we get to see our salty friends in their home enironment. Check out the beautiful marine flora and fauna.  Please be sure to read to the end and see a very special friend who ended our day with a rush of excitement!

Eagle Rayx
Coral head
Yellow Tangs

Jeff Milisen, one of ODA’s Board of Advisor members, happened to find an old steel SCUBA tank down there and somehow managed to swim it up to the boat and onboard into the collection bin. What a find!

He also landed a smaller cylindrical aluminum item...

Jeff fishing for beer can

Laura Cartwright (another repeat volunteer!) found some lovely well-worn swim trunks. I heard talk of "I wonder what that backstory was... or perhaps not!"

All in a hard day’s work, our 17 divers pulled up a whopping 300+ pounds of lead, steel, and garbage off the reefs on Tuesday, and an estimated 2,000 feet of fishing line, almost all of that wrapped was around coral heads.

Crew with Catch of the Day

One of the most inspiring thoughts we heard on the boat today, and our repeat volunteers agreed, was that we noticed that our two reefs we’ve adopted really do look cleaner than when we first dove them.

Ocean Defenders Alliance and Kona Honu Divers have had a direct, noticeable positive impact on these reefs here in Hawai’i, and divers can tell! This really made us feel accomplished – not so much like an uphill battle of constant cleaning. We hope to declare these dive sites pristine one day, and it looks like it might be a possibility!

After everyone was onboard and we motored back to the harbor, were greeted by a charismatic humpback whale. The enthusiastic tail slapping and gestures seemed to say, “THANK YOU ALL, FOR ALL YOU DO!” but perhaps that was just how we all felt about the day.

Humpback whale

Mahalo to all our generous donors and volunteers for making this opportunity a reality, and more in the future!

If you want to be one of our “supporting crewmembers,” you can give a donation towards our operations to keep our volunteers and boats at sea, doing what we do best – removing marine debris!

Make a donation to keep operations running