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Divers clear mountains of garbage from Papahanaumokuakea

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Imagine untangling a fishing net that weighs as much as a small car.

Now imagine pulling that 2,000 pound net from a coral reef – while holding your breath.

That’s exactly how a team of Hawaii-based freedivers working at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument removed nearly 100,000 pounds of rubbish from the reefs during a 27-day voyage.

The 16 trained free divers are part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine Debris project, which aims to protect the last 1,000 miles of the Hawaiian island chain. Their most recent trip focused on cleaning the reefs of Kamokuokamohoalii, Kamole and Kapou in the Papahanaumokuakea system.

Kamokuokamohoalii – also known as Maro Reef – has received special attention.

The team collected over 86,000 pounds of debris from Kamokuokamohoalii alone.

“It’s the equivalent of a walk through New York’s Central Park and a few surrounding blocks,” PMDP Chairman Kevin O’Brien said in a press release.

According to the PMDP, Kamokuokamohoalii is one of the most diverse coral reefs on the islands.

The reef is shallow, which scientists say promotes a “vibrant ecosystem teeming with life.”

Unfortunately, it also attracts waste. Due to the reef’s shallow features, marine debris easily snags coral – especially ghost nets, which are plastic fishing nets that can break up colonies of live coral.

Three boats loaded with marine debris at Kamokuokamohoalii.(James Morioka/PMDP)

“If the PMDP doesn’t clean it up, no one does,” PMDP executive director James Morioka said in a press release.

The organization says it partners with waste management and recycling services to incinerate the majority of debris found. They say the debris will eventually generate electricity for hundreds of Oahu homes.

The PMDP’s next expedition is in September, where they aim to remove 100,000 pounds of debris.

For more information about the organization, click on here.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

John Smith

The author John Smith