By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
We are still catching up on reporting some of our past dives because we had been so busy before things came to a screeching halt due to the worldwide pandemic. I’m relaying to you how the event went from a conversation I had with our ODA-Hawai’i Underwater Photographer and Outreach Coordinator Ken Staples.
On Saturday, February 8th, a boatload of divers boarded the vessel Sea Fox and pushed off from Hawai'i Kai Harbor in Oahu and headed to China Walls, about three miles away. This is the dive site ODA volunteers have been cleaning up once a month for the last four years.
This time out, the dive team consisted of: Scott Barrell, Bennett, Laura Damiani, Yaniv Fadlon, Mary Gilbreath, Scott Goldberg, Molly Hartings, Henry, Heather Hutchison, Thomas Marquett, Joel Moribe, Dan Okamura, Christine Pang, Glenn Roberts, Ken Staples, and Jamie Urbina.
It was a stunningly beautiful day, with flat seas and clear skies.
Due to those conditions, the boat ride was quick and within minutes of arriving at the site, all 18 divers were in the water. They stayed together the entire dive and covered an area about the size of a football field.
The conditions underwater were just as exemplary as they were above, and the visibility was well over 100 feet. Oh, my word!
The team had brought down four five-gallon buckets to hold all the debris, and they were all put to good use. The divers dropped down in to 60-feet of water and spread out. As soon as they had their hands full of debris, they deposited the contents into the buckets and headed back to their area for more.
As you know by now, this location is a hotbed of recreational fishing activity. Here you can see people on the cliff where usually many fishermen are gathered. The orange things in the water are our "float bags" which let the boat crew know that the divers have sent up a bucket full of debris (which was pulled to the surface by the inflated bag).
Even though we’ve been cleaning this site for years now, the fishing gear accumulates so fast that you would hardly notice that we had been there a month ago. But the turtles, dolphins, fish, and corals certainly know, because without our efforts that place would be so overrun with the debris that hardly anything would survive!
All those critters mentioned were seen on this dive, and another bonus was that this was in the middle of the annual humpback whale migration season to Hawai’i. Throughout this one-hour dive you could hear the whales singing, lifting everyone’s spirits.
Once the divers and buckets were back onboard the boat, the team headed back to the dock.
The energy of the team was off the charts. It was not only a treat getting to hear the whale songs, but then looking at all the debris they removed had everyone wanting to do it again!
In all, we removed over 2,500 feet of fishing lines, 192 pounds of lead weights, and some bottles and cans.
Thanks to all 17 of the volunteers who came out, the reefs that are right off China Walls can breathe a little easier.
Mahalo to our supporters who fuel our boats and get us to the locations! And more mahalos to the enthusiastic crewmembers who worked together to make this area a much cleaner and safer place for ocean wildlife.
If you live in Hawai’i and want to join us in our next effort, please visit and bookmark the Islands Divers page to see when we’re going out next (as soon as we are off stay-at-home orders)!