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News and Media

News and Media

By ODA Advisory Board Member & Oahu Dive Team Leader Glenn Roberts

We’d had a nice stretch of light winds and calm seas here on Oahu, so Sunday, March 19th was shaping up to be a great ODA cleanup dive with our boat partner Island Divers Hawaii (IDH).

Ocean Defenders ready to cleanup ghost gear

Volunteer divers were: Henry Bennett, Michael Dal Pra, Andrea Fiegle, Ray Goody, Crystal Gray (responsible for the amazing underwater photography), Samantha Heath, Gary Liebmann, Dan Okamura,  Glenn Roberts, and Rose Zhang. The IDH instructor was Hunter Vivirito. Invaluable topside support was provided by Temple Liebmann (who was our topside photographer) and Chad Schmidt who helped rig the buckets before the dive and haul them out of the water at the end.

Standing is Gary Liebmann and Glenn Roberts (red bandana)Standing is Gary Liebmann and Glenn Roberts (red bandana)

Captain Matt Negaard did his usual briefing and I gave my cleanup briefing, and then we pushed off around 2:30pm.

Fun fact: Matt Zimmerman, IDH owner, schedules all our Sunday cleanup dives using an ocean tide calendar. High tide generally means low current, good visibility (vis). Sunday was a perfect example with zero current and vis exceeding 150 feet along the wall at Fish Camp, our favorite cleanup site (mine anyway 😊).

ODA volunteer points towards the dive site - Fish CampODA volunteer points towards the dive site - Fish Camp

The first bucket was overflowing within 15 minutes.

Ocean Defenders Divers filling lift bag with collected debris

The second one about 5 minutes later.

Sending lost fishing gear to the surface for removal

One bucket exceeded 125 pounds and we only had a 100-pound lift bag on it. Someone had brought a spare 50-pound bag and adding that additional “float power” allowed us to hoist the bucket off the bottom at a depth of about 50 feet.

 UW ODA Divers removing line

You can see the diver above delicately removing line from the coral heads so as not to disturb them.  Below is a closeup showing how the lines get entangled around it, and you can see a small fish - an arc eye hawkfish - between the line and coral. This kind of fish is common below 25 feet. They mostly live in this kind of cauliflower coral. So the line you see choking that coral would kill off his home over time.

We've also seen this kind of fishing line entangled around larger animals like turtles and eels.

Coral w line

We completed our safety stop (pause to decompress) and surfaced as a group to await pickup by the IDH vessel Sea Fox.

Crystal got some cool photos -- half underwater and half above! Be sure to look in the Photo Gallery below to see ALL the other great images she captured.

ODA crewmembers re-board Sea Fox

It was a rewarding event with our A-team of volunteer scuba divers, and everyone delivered big time: eight divers hauled 183 pounds of debris and about 650 yards of fishing line in 20 minutes. Amazing!

ODA Crew with Catch of the DayODA Crew with Catch of the Day. From left to right: Sam Heath, Rose Zhang, Dan Okamura, Michael del Pra (in back row),
Crystal Gray, Ray Goody, Glenn Roberts, Chad Schmidt, Andrea Fiegle, and Gary Liebmann.
Photo by Temple Liebmann, so unfortunately, she's not in the photo with us.

Next time we’ll bring a third and maybe fourth bucket. We also had a new diver joining us, Samantha Heath, who provided awesome surface support at our recent event at He’eia Pier where we removed over 8,000 lbs. of decaying tires and other toxic debris.

Our next cleanup with Island Divers Hawaii is scheduled for Sunday, April 9th.  If you’re interested in diving with the ODA cleanup crew, please visit the Island Divers Hawaii scheduling page where you can RSVP and submit your $10.00 donation.

RSVP for Dive