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In Hawaii, freedivers removed nearly 44 tons of trash from the ocean

A group of more than a dozen freedivers got serious about cleaning up the ocean and, as a result, removed nearly 44 tons of trash. Spectrum nets and garbage lined the coral reef and beaches near Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Among the garbage were dangerous ghost nets, which weighed a total of 39 tons. The
Published: August 4, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 01:08
In Hawaii, freedivers removed nearly 44 tons of trash from the ocean

A group of more than a dozen freedivers got serious about cleaning up the ocean and, as a result, removed nearly 44 tons of trash.

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Spectrum nets and garbage lined the coral reef and beaches near Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Among the garbage were dangerous ghost nets, which weighed a total of 39 tons. The freedivers returned all of the removed trash to Honolulu aboard the vessel M/V Imua.

Giant ghost net lingering on coral reefs
A giant ghost net lingering on a coral reef Photo by James Morioka/PMDP.

The reef that the freedivers decided to tackle is known as Kamokuokamohoaliʻi, which means: “island of the shark god” or Maro Reef. The site is located in the heart of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. It is a series of remote and uninhabited islands that make up the last 2,000 km of the Hawaiian island chain.

44 tons of garbage in 15 days

Without a doubt, it must be admitted that freedivers have accomplished something truly amazing. In just 15 days, diving on held breath, they removed a record amount of garbage. Freeing the coral reef and surrounding beaches from such a quantity ghost networks and various trash, will certainly significantly improve the situation of local flora and fauna.

That’s the equivalent of walking through New York’s Central Park and several surrounding blocks and finding such an amount of trash, 1that equals the weight of a commercial airliner. The fact that we see such an accumulation of garbage in such a small area shows the scale of the global problem. Kamokuokamohoaliʻi is one of the most pristine and isolated places on the planet, and if so much garbage ends up here, it means we have a problem PMDP Chairman Kevin O’Brien said.

Endangered creatures will certainly feel the change. Hawaiian monk seals, green sea honu turtles, rays, sharks and countless species of creatures that inhabit the reef. Kamokukamohoali is one of the most diverse coral reefs in all of Hawaii, with many species of creatures found only here.

Freediver while removing ghost net from coral reef
Freediver while removing ghost nets from coral reef Photo by James Morioka/PMDP

A group of 16 freedivers operated as part of The Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project. The team set out from Honolulu on July 2 and went on a 27-day expedition. The goal was to clean up at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. During several intensive days of work at Kamokuokamohoali, they not only removed nearly 44 tons of debris, but also surveyed the surrounding waters.

It’s not over

We will conduct our next cleanup in September, with the goal of removing another 45 tons of waste lingering in the ocean. Our goal is to continue regular cleanups in the future to maintain the health of coral reefs and protect countless animals from entanglement and potential injury or death PMDP Executive Director James Morioka said.

The cleanup campaign was made possible by the support and cooperation of many entities. Among them the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, the McPike-Zima Foundation, and generous donations from the local community.

Photo by James Morioka/PMDP

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About author

Julia
My love for scuba diving started as a 12-year-old in the Canary Islands, at which time I took my first Open Water Diver course. This love for the blue turned into a huge passion that accompanies me to this day. Although blue is hard to come by in the Baltic, no conditions are terrible for me. In this sport, I find peace, patience, courage, focus, and balance. I have recently started to engage in underwater modeling and I am fulfilled with this.
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