What a fantastic turn out this past Saturday, March 11th! We teamed up with Aaron’s Dive Shop and Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR) for our monthly cleanup at Point Panic. We had over 50 volunteers show up ready to dive, freedive, and walk through the park in search of debris. We even had a surprise guest appearance from Mermaid Linda Stephanie! Partnering with Aaron’s and HMAR is always fun and brings out a happy crowd. Before we started the cleanup, each organization provided a brief introduction about themselves. Aaron’s Dive Shop is a PADI-5 Star IDC facility located in Kailua. As the oldest dive shop in Hawaii, it is an excellent choice for guided dives, PADI certifications, rentals, and servicing gear! HMAR is the largest marine species conservation, education, field support, rescue and stranding response organization in Hawaii. Anabel, HMAR’s Marine Programs Technician, informed the volunteers about their citizen science Beat Debris program. This program was designed to encourage divers to submit easy to use reports online about the debris found while diving. This data helps HMAR collect information on the types of debris and the locations where it is found in the Hawaiian Islands. Divers that submit reports, are entered to win monthly prizes. To learn more about the amazing work that HMAR does or more about the Beat Debris program, you can visit their website here.
Divers and freedivers geared up with mesh bags, gloves, and cutting tools and headed towards the dive site entry point. Check out the amazing line of volunteers getting ready to enter the water! Everyone was all smiles and ready to enjoy the dive.
While the divers and freedivers were underwater, surface support started looking around the park and water’s edge for trash. A few of our regular volunteer divers came and assisted on land since they were unable to dive due to flying later in the day. When the divers or freedivers where ready to exit the water, it was so nice having land support there to help them up the stairs with heavy bags of debris and dive gear!
After about an hour in the water, divers surfaced with bags of trash and some with large items like tires!
Items are sorted into piles of like materials and checked for any marine life that can be returned to the ocean. We then log the items found in the ocean and report them to PADI Aware for tracking and research. We had volunteers of all ages get involved and help with the cleanup!
The impressive group of volunteers removed 206 pounds from the ocean and 21 pounds from the park for a grand total of 227 pounds! We found the normal discarded fishing gear, cans, bottles and single use items, but we also found a pacifier, 2 tires, a water jug turned into a bucket, a large aluminum beam, reading glasses, a dive mask, a fluffy vest, a headband, a bra, a tampon, and a McDonalds toy. We recycle what we can and volunteers often repurpose some of the items recovered.
A huge mahalo to the many volunteers, Aaron’s Dive Shop, HMAR, and Mermaid Linda Stephanie for an amazing day meeting new people and welcoming back friends while caring for our ocean. We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events. Our next cleanup dive is April 8th at Point Panic and then we will be teaming up with Aaron’s Dive Shop on April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day with a beach cleanup at Waiahole Beach Park!