NOAA Team Removes Marine Debris in Hawaii

Google map showing Hanauma Bay with insert of debris in ocean

NOAA staff recently removed hundreds of pounds of marine debris from Hanauma Bay, Hawaii.

On October 13, a news helicopter flying over the island of Oahu in Hawaii spotted what appeared to be derelict fishing gear floating in the ocean just outside of Hanauma Bay. The chance sighting set off a chain of events that ultimately led to the collection of hundreds of pounds of marine debris.

plastic debris in ocean, close-up

A close-up of some of the debris found, and ultimately removed, in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii.

The first attempt to remove the trash was led by enforcement officers with Hawaii's Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, part of the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources. While this team pinpointed the location of the debris, they were unable to remove it due to rough sea conditions.

The next day, the NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center's Coral Reef Ecosystem Division tried again, setting off with a team of four divers on a 17-foot (5.18 meter) inflatable raft.

While the team initially planned the trip as a reconnaissance mission to judge the manpower and tools required to remove the debris, they were surprised to find that the mass of fishing floats suspended amongst the trash were not attached to any derelict fishing gear or nets. The trash was also concentrated in a relatively small area. Since extensive cutting to free the derelict floats was not required, the divers were able to pull most of the trash from the water on the spot.

In total, 436.5 pounds (198 kilograms) of derelict fishing floats and gear, plastics, and one tire were removed from the Bay.

Throughout the duration of the effort to locate and remove the trash, NOAA Marine Debris program staff on the island of Oahu coordinated efforts between state and federal partners.

For more information:

NOAA Marine Debris Program | NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center | Demystifying the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'