By Oahu Volunteer Coordinator & ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen
I’m back to using the word “sporty” because that’s what it was during this cleanup dive along the wall near Spitting Cave! This is a popular cliffside recreational fishing site where many lines and hooks are lost to the waters below.
Our dive boat partner Island Divers Hawaii Captain Matt Negaard skillfully positioned us at our dive site, and we dropped down to strong currents.
We immediately got to work as the clock was already ticking – there’s only so much air in our tanks!
Finding our groove, we started untangling and pulling fishing line, taking careful hold of chandelier hooks, weights, Styrofoam, car spark plugs, and other random trash. It sounds relatively easy, but when you have to grab onto a rock with one hand to keep from being pulled by the current while cutting line with the other hand…well, not so easy.
Fortunately, most were veteran ODA volunteers who are accustomed to this dive, and our two new divers, Tammy Smith and Daniel Norman did a great job. The Island Diver Instructors Ed Hasegawa and Gary Major were also new to our cleanup, and we were glad to have them. Thankfully, they’re well acquainted with the area and knew what we were getting into!
What I love about winter diving in Hawai’i is that we often dive serenaded to the sounds of whales. And the whales were CLOSE! So close that at times I felt the vibration in my chest. It motivated me more to get the fishing line out of the waters!
While I was pulling line, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a hand appeared next to me, pointing ahead of us. It didn’t matter who the hand belonged to (although it was ODA’s Glenn Roberts!). What mattered was that he was pointing to a massive manta ray! What a sight! Unfortunately, the manta looked like he had a rough life but that just spurred me on even more as rays are known to get hooked by fishing lines as well as entangled.
Too soon, it was time to wrap it all up. Debris-collection buckets were sent to the surface by inflatable lift bags as we all tried to head out to sea towards the boat. I say “tried” because really, we were being pushed down the coast, closer and closer to the harbor! After a slow ascent and a three-minute safety stop (for decompression), we popped to the surface.
We had finally been able to get far enough away from the wall for the boat to pick us up, but the current had taken us a good quarter mile! Oh well! A shorter boat ride for us to head back and the best news was it was actually easier to get back on the boat as conditions nearer the mouth of the harbor were much better. Once we got on the boat as we put our gear away, we got some great glimpses out in the ocean of a mother whale and her baby who were spouting and playing.
The day’s haul might not have been our largest but 50 pounds of weight and a couple of hundred yards of fishing line is still important! Even if it is saving just one or two creatures of the sea!
A big mahalo nui loa to not only Island Divers Hawaii but also to the ODA volunteers Henry Bennett, Crystal Gray, Mark England, Gary and Temple Liebmann, Daniel Norman, David Marcelli, Glen Roberts, Ed Sisino, Tammy Smith, and Rose Zhang.
Also, a huge thanks to Temple for being our deckhand and taking topside photos and Crystal Gray for taking the underwater photos!