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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

While the tragedy that hit Lahaina is still unfolding and by no means a distant memory, I want to bring you up-to-date on a cleanup we did on the Big Island of Hawai’i the week right before that devastating event.

On Sunday, August 6th, a group of ODA volunteers met early in the morning at Honokohau Harbor. This is the major boat harbor that serves the diving and fishing communities of Kona. We’ve been organizing underwater cleanups here since 2018. This event represents our 10th cleanup of the harbor!

Boats in Honokohau Harbor

We have now completely circumnavigated the entire harbor, so this time we were going back to an area that we had cleaned up three years ago. 

Even though we knew we wouldn’t be removing as much debris as in the past, we felt there would still be a good enough haul to make it worth the effort. Boy, did that turn out to be valid!

By 9am we had 21 people in the parking lot just above the walkways in the harbor.

Orientation by Kurt

ODA Island of Hawai’i Chapter Leader Sarah Milisen and I talked briefly about where the divers would best position themselves to locate and remove whatever was lying on the harbor floor. We also discussed how to separate the debris into different piles. Non-toxic debris in one pile, tires in another, and batteries in another.

Orientation by Sarah

Around 9:45am the divers started jumping in.

Divers splashing

Volunteers on this gorgeous day were: Ryan Beberwyck, Yohanna Bueno, Mayara Buimaraes, Juan Chacin, Harmon Coffey, Robin Coonen, Vanessa Crowson, Aaron Draime, McKenzie Elliot, Billy Fink, Denise Hampton, Bob Jensen, Dick Jones, Casey Mayes, Jack Mead, Bryan Meshke, Sarah Milisen, Victoria Penfield, Brian Sward, me, and special guest Photographer Renee Capozzola.

Speaking of Renee, she was taking photographs that day for a special project of hers. We'll be sharing that with you soon -- hopefully an article about ODA in a prominent magazine!

As the divers were kicking around searching for debris, a really large green sea turtle (honu) swam by and was checking out the activities. 


The water was so clear that I could see the bottom very clearly, which made it easy for those of us on the docks to point the divers in the right direction.

Within minutes we had tires coming up. Then hoses, pieces of metal, plastic water bottles, fishing lines, a huge plastic float (it was bigger in diameter than the tires!), batteries, and an assortment of other stuff that belonged in the garbage NOT the ocean.

One diver found a really big piece of carpet that he was bound and determined to get out of there, as it was “carpeting” the sea floor and nothing could grow underneath it. He and several deck hands worked on getting that out for about 20 minutes. It was waterlogged and had to weigh at least 600 pounds! A herculean effort by all!

Renee captured all the great shots of the debris coming up, so we'll share those with you soon. I had put my camera down and was working with the crew to haul up tires and such.

With the sun just baking us on the docks we called it quits around 11am. 

Once everyone was out of the water, we hauled all the stuff to the parking lot, hosed off the docks from all the mud and debris that came up with everything, then posed for our “Catch of the Day” pictures.

ODA volunteer crew with "Catch of the Day"

The total take for the day was 1,300 pounds of miscellaneous debris, 19 tires, and three batteries.  Two of those batteries were what are called 8D batteries, and weigh about 125 pounds each. No easy lift getting those bad boys out! 

ODA volunteers removed marine debris.

A big round of applause to everyone who helped out on this day!

Special thanks to:

  • Kona Honu Divers for putting the word out to their community, and for donating the free use of the dive tanks.
  • Jack’s Diving Locker for loaning us their ladder and pop-up tent.
  • Sarah Milisen for putting in hours of work organizing and coordinating with all the involved entities, and with the Harbor Master’s office.
  • Alison Keith for getting the disposal bin donated to us by Pacific Waste Disposal. 
  • Apryl Sasaki at Pacific Waste for arranging to have the bin delivered to the site the day of the event.
  • Casey Mayes and Billy Fink for not only pitching in with the cleanup but for opening up the Kona Sailing Club facility for a free lunch and socializing afterwards. Fun!

It was quite a fulfilling day to see so much stuff get thrown into a bin where it will head to a garbage dump, no longer polluting and creating havoc with our precious wildlife.

If seeing all this junk out of the ocean makes your heart happy, please consider making a donation so more cleanups like this can happen! Thank you from your Ocean Cleanup Crew!

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