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Marine Debris Cleanup Dive - II | Maui.Net - All Things Maui
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Michael Elam's Maui Snorkel & Dive Guide

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Apr. 28, 2008 by Michael Elam

Marine Debris Cleanup Dive - II

Scuba diving on Maui has given me so much enjoyment over the years that it is an honor to have the opportunity to give back whenever I can. I was part of a group that pulled more than 500 pounds of fishing gear off the reef this past weekend!!!

I wrote about a similar experience in a posting a few months ago. Take a look at the accompanying photos on this page which tell the story of this special Earth Day event better than a thousand words.

This semi-annual marine debris cleanup dive was again funded by the Maui Reef Fund and organized by local dive operator Octopus Reef. My friends Don and Rachel Domingo of Maui Dreams generously donated their time on their new dive boat operation Maui Diamond II for this very worthy cause.

While our prior cleanup focused on the Pali's Scenic Lookout area where we made great progress, our destination on this trip was to a new Pali fishing site given to us by Maui Sporting Goods owner Brian Yoshikawa who said that this new location was “filled with abandoned fishing gear and in much need of attention”. 

On most evenings throughout the year you can see cars and trucks parked alongside the road where fishermen have walked down the dirt trails leading to the rocky shoreline below. Consequently the area underwater is literally covered with fishing line, hooks, sinkers, weights, lures and other marine debris left on the reef after becoming snagged.

Not only is this debris a huge underwater eyesore, it can adversely impact marine life. Lost, cut and discarded monofilament fishing line damage and kill coral colonies which grow very slowly, only centimeters per year. The fishing line, swept by ocean surge action, entangles coral heads and cuts in to them. In addition, discarded monofilament fishing line, lead sinkers and hooks pose ingestion and entanglement threats to endangered monk seals, sea turtles, and sea birds.

Our group of fourteen divers and snorkelers during two dives retrieved over 500 pounds of debris. We brought down with us weighted cloth shopping bags (donated by local health food store Hawaiian Moons) each attached to a lift bag. Once a shopping bag was filled with debris, the lift bag was filled with air and up to the surface it went. Snorkelers waiting at the surface then brought the bag to the boat where it was emptied, dropped back down, and the process repeated.

We separated the weights from the monofilament line, from the steel leaders, etc. and delivered the entire thing to Brian at Maui Sporting Goods who will recycle the newer fishing line we recovered, and all useable gear will be donated to a Haiku youth organization and reused.  Very little of what we recovered will end up in the landfill.

I happened to participate in another reef cleanup event the prior weekend as well. On this occasion we went out with Trilogy from Lahaina to Honolua Bay. Because Honolua Bay is a marine preservation area where fishing is not allowed, we found very little debris of any kind…a handful of fishing line, a plastic bottle, a few odd pieces of plastic, etc. Quite a contrast.

Here is a video news clip covering our Reef Cleanup project in more detail.  And here is a link to a local news article in The Maui Weekly!

Dive stats:

Dive 1
Location: somewhere along the Pali between the Scenic Outlook and the tunnel
Maximum Depth: 45 feet
Bottom Time: 59 minutes
Visibility: 20-40 feet
Water Temp: 77°

Dive 2
Location: same as above
Maximum Depth: 42 feet
Bottom Time: 58 minutes
Visibility: 20-40 feet
Water Temp: 77°

All photos provided courtesy of Rene Umberger.

About the Operators
Octopus Reef offers Guided Life Marine Tours for small groups with very personalized service that is difficult to obtain in a larger group of 6-12 people. They plan and do tours focused on your specific requests for what you would like to see and learn about.

For those planning to do some boat diving while on the island you can't find a dive operator more friendly and helpful than Maui Dreams Dive Company. Not only are they Maui's shore diving specialists, they also have recently taken over the operation of the Maui Diamond II dive boat departing from Ma'alaea Harbor.


"Very cool, great job, we need more people like you to keep Maui one of the most special places in the world. And with the recent airlines, and gas pricing to have this land pristine is more important than ever, so our guest that come to our sacred land realize this still one of the best places to dive and snorkel anywhere. "

Posted by Maui Reviewer on May. 27, 2008

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