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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Hawai’i Island Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen

On Tuesday, October 3rd, Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) did our fifth cleanup of 2023 with boat partners Kona Honu Divers (KHD) aboard their largest boat, Honu One. The boat was sold out again, thanks to our dedicated crew!  

ODA Ocean Cleanup Crew before departure

Our goal was to head back to the southern side of Keahole Point, as it's been a couple months since we were able to clean up there. Strong currents prevented us from entering the water on the south and west point, so we went north to our first adopted cleanup site, Sand Chute. All divers onboard were veteran cleanup divers (a first on the ODA charters!) and a detailed briefing was not needed – so we buddied up and everyone jumped right in and got to work! 

Divers this day were: Ryan Beberwyck, Karen Bohner, Laura Cartwright, Erin Clement, Kay Cooper, Marlene Demery, Phil Demery, Donna Goodale, Bo Pardau, Jamie Pardau, Bob Pecoraro, Buzz Samuelson, Harvey Surprenant, Laura Whillock, and me (Sarah Milisen).  Captain John Coladonato handled the boat, with topside support provided by Ari and Maile.

It's always a treat to see the beatiful ocean fauna and it reminds us why we do what we do. You can click to enlarge the first picture and then scroll through the mini slideshow so you can see the beautiful formations better!

Big Island coral
Underwater coral formation
Unusual coral off coast of Hawaii Island

Luckily, very little debris was pulled up, which I’ll explain in a moment. A couple divers comfortable with depth went to the deeper drop-off, and there was still quite a lot of line there, but divers were limited on allowable time at those depths, so they got what they could, and all divers came back to look over their haul. 

ODA Debris-Cleanup Diver removing debris

It's always a mission-driven dive, to seek and collect debris on these dives - like a treasure hunt for reef cleanliness. Often when divers don't find their debris, they (including me) can be disappointed. However, it's important to remember, these dive sites were originally picked by Kona Honu staff due to the regular line, lures, and lead seen at these sites – the fact that we are not finding them, after only a couple cleanup dives a year here, means we are actually making the reefs cleaner and safer for ocean life – and maintaining that! 

Ocean Defender volunteer shows the tangled fishing line

Captain John and crew went back around to the south to try again, but the swirling currents and upwelling was clearly still not a safe situation for divers – so with the encouragement of Captain John, and a couple tips from the regular Kona Honu Ohana Divers, we moored up at Outhouse for a reconnaissance dive and assessment. 

Coastal water ghost gear removed by ODA

Outhouse has an unfortunate name, but it’s located just outside of some public restrooms off the coast of Queen Liliuokalani Trust lands. These lands are off limits to all others except those of native Hawaiian descent. Native Hawaiians can use these lands for camping, fishing, and their connection to nature, but non-native Hawaiians cannot come here to collect, fish, or otherwise use these lands and the ocean – making this place a very beautiful, fishy dive site.These two photos of this site are from our boat looking back towards shore.

Dive site number 2 Outhouse
Outhouse off shore dive location

This point is just south of Honokohau harbor and is another steep drop-off on our Kona Coast. I imagined we might find fishing line in shallow, thicker fishing line for game fish out deeper – so off the divers went!

Hauling out abandoned fishing gear is successful for ODA divers

We all came back with nearly full bags – some even had to toss their hauls into other diver's bags! Maile and Ari found a bunch of thicker line down deeper, while some of the divers who stayed shallow found lead and thinner fishing line. All in all, it was 700 feet worth of lines! Also found was a discarded driftnet, 20 fish hooks, five pounds of lead fishing weights (toxic!), and a three-prong pole spear.

Current did pick up halfway through the dive, making it challenging to return back to the boat with our full bags – but our divers are all experienced and no one had any issues! This could be another candidate for more ODA cleanups in the future! 

ODA Big Island Crew with Catch of the Day

ODA, partnering with KHD, has taken on four adopted dive sites over the 2023 year, with just two adopted dive sites in 2022. Our shared  commitment to cleaning up the ocean and making it a safer place for marine life and divers is an impressive feat. 

Ocean Defenders Alliance would love to keep our boat charter partnerships (and have more!) going forward but we need your donations to make these things happen! Please donate here and if you're on the Island of Hawai'i sign up for our next cleanup event!