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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

See the great photos and video at the end of the page!

ODA has been removing marine debris from the He’eia Pier for a little over three years now.  This site is located on the east side of Oahu, on a beautiful stretch of coastline called Kaneohe Bay. It’s not at all like Honolulu, which is on the west side of the island. This is more like the paradise we all have in our minds…

This was our 6th time doing an underwater cleanup here, and we had almost 40 people participate! 

We got an early start on Sunday, October 22nd. How early you might ask?  Well, the sun was just rising. The seas were like glass and nary a cloud broke the allure of the blue skies.

Heeia sunrise

ODA Oahu coordinators Glenn Roberts and Temple Liebmann did most of the organizing. For well over two months before the event, they worked on the logistics with Harbor Master Tanya Borabora.

Several of us showed up around 7am to get things set up and in place. In addition to Temple and Glenn, Gary Liebmann, Christine Pang, and Anke Roberts started setting up our tent along with a table with sign-in sheets, snacks, drinks, and ODA brochures and stickers to hand out.

We are thrilled to be working with a new partner Aaron's Dive Shop (ADS)! It was a great way to start the day with our new friends Teresa Kling and team of volunteers; they came bearing gifts of a water cooler, gloves, tools, and a table. Mahalo to you all!

Ed Sisino was there even before I got there, and his new setup for pulling the heaviest tires out of the water was all in place and ready for review. Wholly mackerel Ed, you put a LOT of thought into that system! We would really put it to the test in the next few hours.Be sure to watch the video at the end of the article to see Ed's equipment in action!

Ed's tire removal pulley system

Regulars Crystal Gray and Michael Del Pra jumped in the water first and dived down to film the area before divers started pulling the tires up, and the underwater (UW) vis would go to near zero in a very short time.

Left to right: Christine, Crystal, and MichaelLeft to right: Rose Zhang, Crystal Gray, and Michael Del Pra

Good thing they did that, as Crystal came away with some really revealing, if not haunting, video and still pictures of what is going on outside the view of the public. Check out video of what they saw at the end of this article, but here's a still shot of what the grid of fishing line looks like:

UW fishing lines criss-cross on the coral

There's so much of this criss-crossing fishing line, we're going to have to conduct a separate cleanup focused just on this!

The majority of people started showing up around 8am. It’s always fun for me to see so many people I’ve gotten to know over the years come for another wild adventure. It’s one thing to sit at home and complain about the state of the world’s oceans, but an entirely different feeling to get out and actually do something about it. We all had high energy going in anticipation of what was to come!

On this day, we had about 40 people show up to get down and dirty.  Volunteers for this fun occasion were: Denise Acosta, Henry Bennet, Natasha Borabora, Tanya Borabora, Dylan Brown, Brook Carillo, Terry Carwile, Mike Celli, Michael Del Pra, Ramondoe Goode, Crystal Gray, Ray Hollowell, Mike Hsu, Julia Hunckler, Teresa Kling, Wayland Kwock, Alex Lerikos, Iron Li, Gary and Temple Liebmann, Aby Liebmann, Richard Liebmann, Chris Maddaloni, Sandy Newell, Christine Pang, Dandy Picanco, Kana’i Picanco, Ron Porter, Anke and Glenn Roberts, Chad Schmidt, Ed Sisino, Kay Smullen, Hordan Spalding, Debra Townsend, and Rose Zhang.

Orientation by Kurt and GlennOrientation by Kurt Lieber (left) and ODA Dive Team Coordinator Glenn Roberts (right)

Around 8:15am, Glenn talked to everyone about what to expect to see underwater and how best to handle the debris while hooking it up to either a haul-out line, or in the case of a heavy tire, a lift bag.

I then gave a brief talk about ODA’s history in Hawai’i and what to do once the debris starts to come up on the pier.

Dylan Brown, a marine biologist, spoke briefly about how best to avoid harming the corals when pulling the tires and debris out. He was a wealth of knowledge about the specific corals that are in this spot and helped the divers ascertain how best to remove the unwanted stuff if there were corals in the immediate area.

Orientation by DylanOrientation by Dylan Brown
TV interviewCrewmember Aby Liebmann gets interviewed by Anthony Hamilton of "Hawaii News Now"

Just as the divers were jumping in the water, Anthony Hamilton of Hawai'i News Now arrived to film and interview our event for a TV station. We had put out a press release earlier in the week and sent it around to several news stations. He was so enthusiastic and told me that this was a much happier thing for him to report on, rather than the usual doom and gloom that shows up on newscasts these days. It was heartening to hear his questions and sincerity. Here's the 38 second clip!

Around 9am we had our first tires coming up, and who was there to haul it out? None other than Tanya Borabora! ODA has been doing harbor cleanups for over a decade and we’ve never had a harbor master volunteer with us, but she got as dirty as anyone else this day…and it wasn’t her first time joining in our cleanups. Thank you for being an inspiration, Tanya!

Crew with Tanya (in yellow shorts)Crew poses with Tanya (in yellow shorts)
Tanya removes tires with the ODA cleanup crew

Soon after that we started seeing lift bags at the surface, which meant the big tires were coming up.

Lift bags pop to surface indicating debris is ready to be removed

Now we put Ed’s new system to the test. In times past getting these huge tires onto the dock was really really difficult. Not only were they heavy, in the 200-to-400-pound range, but once they were hauled to the edge of the pier, we had to get them over a 90-degree bend.

UW tire going up
UW tire being hauled out with pulley
Crew lines up to play tug of war with tire

Oftentimes the lines would break due to the stress on the line. Now with Ed’s pulley system the tires were coming straight up, away from the bend and we could easily pull the tire over to the dock. Worked like a charm!

As one fishing boat was passing by, the captain stopped to thank the divers for removing all this stuff, that they can tell the difference each time we do this because their hooks and lines don’t get entangled as frequently as before.

Now the tires were coming up one after the other, to the point that while the topside crew were hauling one tire out the divers had to wait in a line to get theirs hauled out. 

UW Tire graveyard
UW tire being pulled to surface
Loading tires to be hauled away

Everyone was having a blast, and mud was flying everywhere. It was all over the dock and most people were caked in it. A local police officer who was patrolling nearby stopped and pitched in as well for over an hour. Wow, talk about caring about your community!

Crew with the police officer

Around 11am we called in all the divers. We had 48 tires on the dock, around 3,000 feet of fishing line, as well as about 100 pounds of other debris.

Crew with Catch of the Day

 Loading tiresBy this time Kana’i’s Junk Removal company trucks were on site ready to pack all the tires and haul them across the island to the H-Power station, where they incinerate the tires and turn that heat into electricity.

It was another successful cleanup.  With a total of 4,214 pounds of toxic debris out of the water!

Huge Mahalos to all who participated:

Especially Glenn, Gary, and Temple for putting in so much time to organize this.

Teresa Kling brought a team from Aaron's Dive Shop and provided water cooler, gloves, tools, and a table. WOW! They were a great new partner and we look forward to more events with Aaron's in the future!

Tanya Borabora for once again making all this happen. We couldn’t do this without her involvement and support.

Alison Keith for making the arrangements with Ahmad Sadri at H-Power to take all the tires onto their site to dispose of, at no charge to us.

Crystal Gray for taking all the UW video and still images.

Ray Hollowell for taking all the topside videos.

Anke Roberts and Temple Liebmann for getting all these great still pictures.

And lastly but NOT leastly, Kana’i Picanco for bringing three of his company’s trucks (Kana’i’s Junk Removal) to the event and hauling all the tires over to the other side of the island for proper disposal.

This was indeed a full-on community effort!

Check out k\our video which first reveals the devastation of the ghost gear below the surface and then shows Ed's pulley system at work: