Cleaning up underwater: Volunteers remove dozens of tires, loads of debris from Honokohau Harbor

  • Volunteers, including those above and below water, removed 45 tires and about 2,500 pounds of other debris, including hoses, PVC piping, carpet, anchors and more, during the Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii-organized event at Honokohau Harbor on Saturday. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A divers jumps into the water Saturday at Honokohau Harbor during a cleanup event organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Divers bring tires to the water's surface Saturday at Honokohau Harbor during a cleanup event organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A volunteer wheels tires pulled from the bottom of Honokohau Harbor on Saturday during a cleanup effort organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today) (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Animals can become entangled in the debris debris, like this unfortunate eel that met its demise when it got entangled in some fishing line. A group of about 45 volunteers from all over the Big Island converged on the world-renowned dive and fishing port to remove as much man-made man-made debris from the harbor waters as possible in an effort organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Forty-five tires were pulled from the bottom of Honokohau Harbor on during a cleanup organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Tires pulled from the bottom of Honokohau Harbor line the docks on Saturday. A group of about 45 volunteers from all over the Big Island converged on the world-renowned dive and fishing port to remove as much man-made debris from the harbor waters as possible in an effort organized by Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

A group of about 45 volunteers from all over the Big Island converged on Honokohau Harbor on Saturday in an effort to help beautiful Hawaii.

The focus of the gathering was to remove as much man-made debris from the harbor waters as possible from the a world-renowned dive and fishing port, according the Ocean Defenders Alliance, Hawaii, a nonprofit organization based out of California that organized the event. The organization, which works with four dive shops in Hawaii, including two on the Big Island, has now helped to clean Honokohau Harbor six times.

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“Most of the people were from Kona, but several people came from Hilo. We even had two folks who came from Arizona,” Kurt Lieber, founder and president of Ocean Defenders Alliance, wrote in a statement. “They had heard about it via the internet, and thought ‘hey, this would be a good reason to go visit Hawaii.’”

ODA works in conjunction with Jacks Diving Locker, which supplies scuba tanks for free to all the divers, as well as assisting with the logistics of putting the volunteer effort together.

A total of 23 divers took part in Saturday’s cleanup, according to Lieber. In all, the volunteers, including those above and below water, removed 45 tires and about 2,500 pounds of other debris, including hoses, PVC piping, carpet, anchors and more.

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“The reasons we do this are many, but the main reason is to get all this plastic out of the water. As it degrades over time, it releases toxins into the water, which have serious consequences for the corals, turtle, fish and other marine life. These animals can also become entangled in the debris, and we found one unfortunate eel that met its demise when it got entangled in some fishing line,” Lieber said.

For more information on the effort, as well as future volunteer opportunities, visit www.oceandefenders.org.

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