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News and Media

News and Media

By Oahu Volunteer Coordinator & ODA Advisory Board Member Marjorie Zensen

It’s frustrating to organize an event only to have ocean conditions dictate a different plan! Two in a row including a backup plan! However, this day, we were determined to remove ocean debris.

I live on the Windward side of the island of Oahu near Kailua Beach.

Beautiful Oahu beach

For at least a month or more a friend and fellow ODA volunteer has been reminding me about a lone tire she found about a quarter mile from shore in about 15 feet of water.

I’ve been so caught up with “bigger” projects that this little one kept getting set aside.  But still, Deb Kaawalauole-Townsend would remind me occasionally just to make sure I didn’t forget!

So, when our planned cleanup at Hālona Blowhole this past weekend was canceled due to ocean conditions, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take care of this tire! A plan was formulated and with our partners in tow, we met at the beach early Sunday morning.

Terry stayed on land as our support, while Mark, Deb, and I grabbed our fins, snorkels, some rope, and a BCD (buoyancy compensator device) to help float the tire back in!

Small but mighty crew

It didn’t take long to find the tire. It DID take a while to dump the sand out, but once that was done, we were able to put enough air in the BCD to float the tire.

Underwater tire removal

With Mark on one side of the tire, Deb on the other and me swimming ahead of them with one fin on one foot, and the other broken fin in hand, we managed to make it back to shore.

I rolled the tire the last little bit and Terry carried it up the beach to the vehicles. 

Terry joins in the ocean cleanup

We rewarded ourselves with power balls and drinking chocolate, but Deb and I knew that we had to get the masks and snorkels back on and scout for fishing line and weights!  So, we went back out and retrieved 15 lead fishing weights, a bunch of fishing line, and some other rope and hooks.

Abandoned fishing gear that entangles and hooks wildlife

During the covid-19 lockdown I had the opportunity to introduce Deb to the presence of debris that lurks beneath the water’s surface.  Ocean debris is pretty much “out of sight, out of mind,” so we need to tell others about this problem!  Thankfully, Deb was as horrified as I am and instantly committed to doing whatever she can to remove trash and other manmade debris from the waters and their shores whenever she can. She and I live close to the water, so we both frequent the local fishing area to clean up.

Crew with catch of day

Deb picks up trash at Santa Monica BeachHere's Deb picking up trash at Santa Monica Beach, California

But beyond our little beach, Deb (and Terry) have picked up debris on their daily walks (yes, including tires on the side of the road!) and even during travels around the world! At every opportunity Deb and Terry help during ODA events as our onshore support. But don’t let the word “support” lead you to think they are just lounging around on land, coffee in hand. Two harder workers you won’t come across often!

So please don’t think that because you don’t SCUBA dive or live near a beach that you can’t do anything! I have a son who lives in Baltimore and a daughter who lives in Virginia, and they're always picking up trash in the creeks and streams, in the woods, in the parks, the streets! (But that’s a story for another day).

Mahalo for reading my story and caring about the oceans,

If you want to enjoy more great stories about the ocean conservation work our Oahu crews are doing check out their page.