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Ecological Achievements

Save Sharks Cove | 36 Turtle Rescues | Ghost Net Recoveries | All Achievements (listed chronologically) | Endorsements


Ghost Net Recovery #11
August 18, 2001
Waialua Beach, North Shore Oahu

We received a report of a Ghost Net on August 17th by two of our return customers and set forth plans to recover the net the next day.  It is worth mentioning that these customers (Spencer & Dave) said they never would have thought to report the net to a dive shop but because of our Ghost Net sculpture at the back of our shop they did think to tell us.  Along with the help of other customers (Peter, Thad & Jonathan) we pulled out approximately 150-200 feet of net in 8-20 feet of water.  Substantial damage had already occurred to the reef, but not nearly as much as would have with time..  I (Ken) was able to save one small crab.  Until we get some legitimate conservation measures in place here, I know that this sort of direct action will continue to be necessary.


Turtle Rescue #37 "Tiny"
August 9, 2001
Alligator Rock, North Shore Oahu

On August 8th a supporter notified us that a young turtle was sighted with fishing line wrapped around his right front fin.  This is one of those times where I knew for sure that this was no false alarm and that we would likely determine whether this turtle would live or die based on whether we got to him in time.  Myself (Ken) Chris and Paul decided to conduct an early morning search the following day before work in the area he was last sighted.  During the search we sighted two of our amputee turtles (not sure which ones just yet) going about their turtle business.  It is always a great feeling to see these guys making it, handicapped or not, and knowing we are a direct part of their survival.  We also saw a huge Spotted Eagle Ray hooked in the mouth with about one foot of trailing fishing line with a small led weight attached.  There was simply no way to recover him but I believe the hook will rot out and the line will come out without further injury.  Chris spotted Tiny after about an hour and half of searching and called me over.  He came my way and I descended just a few feet and snagged him without incident.  Being so small it was an easy swim to shore and a veterinarian is now caring him for.  I am 99% sure he will unfortunately lose his right fin based on others in the same condition.  This will bring our amputee turtle population up to ten!  We expect his release within thirty days and will continue to watch out for our new little friend.     

Ghost Net Recovery #10
May 29th, 2001
Hammerheads, North Shore, Oahu
This recovery was conducted because of a report and request from a State of Hawaii Marine Enforcement Officer.  We thank him for the information.  The net was approximately 100 feet in length and had already done a lot of damage.  Who knows how much life had already been lost before the removal.  The recovery took place in about 10 feet of water and lasted about 45 minutes.  Thanks to Greg and Catherine for their help.  We saved one Convict Tang and several crabs and lobsters.  

Ghost Net Recovery #9
May 26th, 2001
Haleiwa Harbor Entrance, North Shore, Oahu
Captain Chris Lolley spotted this net as we were returning from a boat dive and we immediately conducted the recovery in 10-15 feet of water.  Thanks to Harbor Master Paul's approval as this area is a dangerous place for divers.  Recovery took about 30 minutes and one 7-11 Crab was saved.  Once again this net had already done much damage by ripping up coral heads.  Total length of the net was approximately 75 feet.  Thank you to our customer Robert for his help in water and for the rest of you on the boat.  Barbara, watch out for those crabs!

Turtle Rescue #36 "Claire"
March, 2001
Puaena Point, North Shore Oahu
This was perhaps the most difficult rescue I (Ken) have ever done.  We had been looking for this turtle for three days it was becoming an obsession to find him.  We knew line was wrapped around the fin based on the report we were given an believed the damage was not complete yet.  We were right and when I spotted him I realized that he was about 250 lbs. and had full use of all fins.  Not only that but he was very weary of me and wanted no part of being rescued.  This one was not going to be easy.  I must admit that despite the fact that I had never let go of a turtle once getting a hold I did on this one as my hold was not complete first time around.  I felt the crushing reality of knowing he may live a long healthy life or quite possibly die for my mistake (and the fishing line), depending on whether I could make up for my mistake.  I continued my pursuit but he was now completely aware of me and really not happy.  Eventually after about 20 minutes I lulled him into a momentary lack of defense and made my move.  This was done while freediving to his depth of about 20 feet.  This time I did not let go and we wrestled for about 20 seconds till I could maneuver him to the surface..  This alone was exhausting.  I then waited till our boat could be positioned next to me for transfer to the boat.  I yelled my all to repeated direction "don't let go".  Unfortunately they did let go and I had to grab a hold without taking a full breath.  He then pulled me down several feet and I held on as long as I could till I could hold on no longer.  When I let go this time I was truly crushed.  I now felt directly responsible for him.  He and I were both exhausted now but he descended and I followed above.  After about another 15 minutes he rested on the bottom at about seventy feet.  Although I can freedive to that depth I knew there was no way I could dive to him, wrestle, then ascend all the way up on one breath.  I decided to dive down with scuba as stealthfully as I could and then bring him up hopefully slowly.  When your dealing with compressed air, fast ascents are not good.  Fortunately this worked and the trip up was relatively easy (and slow) as we were both practically void of any energy.  This time the transfer to the boat was successful.  Once on the boat we removed the line that had only caused superficial damage at that point and we were able to return him to the water immediately.  He was a very strong healthy male turtle who I am sure we will see more of.  

If your wondering why this male turtle was named Claire, it is because I had already vowed to name the next rescued turtle after my former girlfriend who is still my very dear friend.  Thank you Claire for the inspiration, and thank you to the gang at Celestial and Paradise Cafe in Haleiwa for the help.         

Turtle Release #15 "Gonzales"
Nov.26th, 1999
Three Tables Beach, North Shore Oahu
Just one day after his exhausting capture Gonzales was going back home in great shape. In cases like this we know that fin loss and death was eminent and we made the difference by rescuing him early. These are clearly the most rewarding rescues of all and I wish they could all be like this. We shall be watching for Gonzales and are very confident that we will see him soon.

Turtle Rescues #11 #12 #13 "Tom", "Gonzales", "Keller"
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25th, 1999
| Puaena Point, Sharks Cove and Haleiwa Harbor, Oahu
On the previous day our instructor, Dan, sighted a turtle with line in his mouth and wrapping around his fin, while conducting a tour with a customer. He was unable to capture the turtle so we came back later that afternoon to find him. Upon our return we found him immediately and started stalking him. We followed him for approximately a half hour and never got closer than 5 ft from him. We decided to come back the next day, Thanksgiving Day. A group of six staff members and one customer set out early and stopped by one of our turtle cleaning stations outside the harbor. I jumped in just to check things out and sure enough I spotted a medium sized turtle "Tom" with line choking off circulation in him right front fin. I apprehended him easily as he was quite lethargic. Once on the boat I knew his fin would be amputated. Officials said it would be two hours before they could arrive so we set out for the turtle we followed the day before. Once at Sharks Cove we dove down and saw him almost immediately. Once again a pursuit ensued with myself and Chris (our dive master artist) shooting video. I had decided from the previous day that I might abandon my scuba gear so that I could follow him above from the surface with less drag. The day before had been very frustrating and I was hell bent to get him today. I knew at the least he would lose one fin if I didn't or quite possibly die. So after another exhausting half hour pursuit Chris dropped back and I ditched my gear and continued pursuit on the surface watching him 40 ft below. About 15 minutes later I saw him coming up and positioned myself above. Sure enough, after 45 minutes I grabbed hold of him, on his surface for breath, which he sorely needed. A tremendous relief came over me. I named him "Gonzales" as in Speedy. Once back in the harbor we turned over the turtles. Shortly after, a large turtle with tumors and fishing line swam by the dock. I jumped in and got him. Unfortunately he was blind in one eye and nearly so in the other (thus his name "Keller" i.e. Helen Keller), sadly we believe he will not make it. All in all, it was an amazingly up and down day. Our biggest hope is that by our efforts, others will become more aware and help us change things for the better.

Turtle Release #4 "Atlantis"
November 23rd, 1999
Alligator Rock, North Shore Oahu

One and a half months after his rescue we were putting "Atlantis" back into his home, 4 pounds and 3 ounces lighter (the size of the tumor that was removed). The veterinarian had to cut through major blood vessels in a tricky surgery, but the procedure was successful. This was truly one of the most gratifying releases because the removal the monstrous tumor brought back the beauty of this majestic creature. With neighbors and supporters lined up on the beach, Atlantis made his crawly back into the ocean and we watched him swim away with great pride. Some days are better than others.

Turtle Recovery "Grim"
November 22cd, 1999
Haleiwa Harbor, North Shore Oahu
Unfortunately not all our encounters with the turtles end up happy. On this day we received a call about a beached turtle. When we arrived we found a very lethargic, emaciated turtle with multiple tumors. He was young and obviously in a very bad state. He had been there so long that he was partially buried in the sand. We turned him over to authorities knowing that they might not be able to do anything, but we hoped for the best.

Long-lining Banned
November 21st, 1999
Honolulu, Oahu Hawaii
In a surprise move a federal court judge banned long-line fishing in a massive area of the Northwest Hawaiian Atolls. This ban shocked even the most optimistic of environmentalists. The reason for it was the threat to four species of endangered turtles that live in Hawaii. The Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtle. At least one news station used footage of our various turtle rescues to support the story and the fact is that awareness has been heightened so much as a result of our efforts that the climate had become right for this decision. Truly our impact was reaching even further.

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #3
Nov.10th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
So here we were at the third of five scheduled meetings with virtually nothing accomplished in regards to the rules changes we were meant to decide on. Would this be the meeting to change that? Indeed it was. Finally we were going to talk about the issues. First was netting. Everybody agreed as I had hoped, that netting had no place in a so called "conservation district" and we agreed that it should be banned. Second was spear fishing and once again we all agreed that this also had no place in the area. We voted to ban it. Third, and most certainly the biggest question mark, was pole and line fishing. Everybody knowing the amount of turtles we had already saved from discarded fishing line definitely had an impact and only one real opponent made his objection. His reason was valid that many retired and otherwise low-income people use that area to subsidize their dinner plates. After just having witnessed thousands of fish removed from a Waimea Bay netter I was sympathetic to his statement. But the bottom line was that the North Shore had not one marine sanctuary and every inch of coastline was currently available for fishing. Based on this reality I felt we must set this one small area aside, for the future. In our plan to ban fishing however we proposed that the boundaries be changed slightly so that fishing could continue in one area of Shark's Cove but not within the MLCD itself. That way they would at least have one area left to fish while keeping the rules in the MLCD strict and easier to enforce. This proposition seemed to be unanimously accepted as reasonable but decision on this issue was delayed for further debate. Progress had been made and the next meeting we were to discuss expansion of the MLCD< this I was looking forward to.

Animal Planet "Wild Rescues Show"
Nov. 7th, 1999 Deep Ecology Shop
Due to all the turtle rescues we had done we had already been slotted for the national TV. Show "Real TV" and now it was time for Animal Planet. The opportunity to tell the story for the turtles is one we will continue to tell as a long as the problem exists, we owe that to the turtles and all the other marine life that suffers due to our ignorance and indifference. To reach the national realm is to reach millions and we made the most of our experiences by communicating clearly how bad the problem is. Thanks to Animal Planet for getting the story out.

Commercial Netting in Waimea Bay #2
October 31st and November 1-2
Commercial netting occurred at Waimea Bay.
The total catch for these nettings is unknown but at least 14,000 lbs. of Akule were taken in one netting while people were swimming and snorkeling and pole and line fishermen watched from shore some fifty yards away. The only laws broken thus far are the operation of a motorboat in the bay, according to Alton Miyasaka of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The powerboats were used to surround the school of fish, which were located by a spotter plane flying above. Because of the huge amount of feedback I have received from Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians about the declines in fish around the North Shore I have taken it upon myself to document any activities in the bay that may be contributing to this perceived decline. Netting is obviously one of these activities. Legal or not I am convinced that the vast majority of North shore residents are opposed to commercial netting close to shore especially around the Waimea Bay and Shark's Cove area. Most people I have talked to are shocked to learn that netting is indeed legal in these areas. I personally have video taped two commercial nettings at Waimea Bay over the last two months and have done so as a means of collecting information that will allow the people of the North Shore to make intelligent decisions about the fate of their home. As a result of these videos I have received threats of violence against myself my business and even my family. I would to state now for the record that the actions I have taken are mine and mine alone. Any threat towards my mother or my wife is among the most cowardly and despicable terrorist tactics that would do shame to any family involved. I have spoken with my family and we agree that terrorism of any sort is unacceptable and they accept my active decision to continue documenting what I see fit to document. Rest assured that I will indeed do so and these threats have only strengthened my resolve to do what my conscious dictates. I will not back down no matter how real these threats may be and I hereby point to those who might consider violence to think very, very hard about this. Dead or alive I guarantee that it would be the very worst thing you could possibly do. Having said that I would like to get beyond the disgrace of violence and invite those who oppose me to meet with me face to face and talk with respect about our views. Perhaps we do not disagree about everything. In fact I believe we have a common enemy, the big Asian and U.S. fishing fleets that are literally stripping away all the fish in the oceans. Regardless of that I will continue to do what I believe is in the best interest of all those who love the North Shore and the generations to come. To me that is what Hawaii is all about. Special note. A rare appearance of a Tiger Shark in Waimea Bay the day after the last netting occurred. Lifeguards actually had to call out all swimmers from the water. I wonder if this might possibly be some sort of sign that we on the North Shore should be looking at?

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #2
Oct.13th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
Into this meeting I went with articles showing the problems in California and globally due to lack of marine protection. I also handed out our proposal to eliminate spearing, fishing, and netting in the MLCD and expand the area to over triple its current size while enveloping Waimea Bay. The meeting however was more about things we had no say in and I expressed my dissatisfaction more than once. I also urged that we move with more speed in order to prevent failure in our charge to address the issues of rules changes. I left this meeting highly frustrated but the agenda I had pushed for the next meeting seemed to be in place and perhaps we were now ready to accomplish something.

Turtle Rescue #10 "Atlantis"
October 5, 1999
Alligator Rock, North Shore Oahu
On one of Oahu's beautiful stretch of beach came ashore a large mature male sea turtle that we first sighted in September, although residents had come to know this turtle for many months, as he would come ashore at dusk almost daily. This is not common behavior and was easily explained by the immense tumor attached to his head. This tumor in fact was bigger than his head! We had planned to turn the turtle over to authorities that could remove the tumor but these same authorities would close before Atlantis would come ashore. The decision was made to keep the turtle overnight in a pen, and then turn him over for veterinary help. This we did on October 6th and one and a half months later we happily released

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Meeting #1
Sept. 8th, 1999
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
Being the type of person who likes to get things done this meeting was less than satisfying. It was pretty much limited to what our charge was and the time frame of all things involved and I was beginning to think I was becoming part of the system I resent for its ineffectiveness. The crux of it was that there would be a planned five meetings over five months and after that we as a task force would make recommendations regarding any rules changes (see
Save Shark's Cove #1 ) to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). From that a series of processes would occur that would likely take another year and a half. Bureaucracy in action! Our goal was to not only change the rules for the better but to expand the conservation area (MLCD) to more than triple its current size. Although we didn't accomplish much in my eyes there was some opportunity to meet our adversaries and find some common ground, so this was good. The agenda had been set for the next meeting and my hope was that this would allow for more productive movement. I was wrong.

Turtle Release #2 #3 "Haloti", "Dan"
Sept. 8th, 1999
Ali'i Beach Park, North Shore Oahu
Some days are indeed better than others and this was one of the good ones. After one month in captivity and fins being amputated on each turtle, Haloti and Dan were going home. Of course there is an overwhelming amount of concern for these guys because if anything happens to the other front fin they will most certainly die, but they do at least have a chance to make it. We knew that our first turtle rescue, "Chance", was alive at least ten months after losing his fin, so our hopes are not unrealistic. The releases went as planned on a beautiful sunny day with calm conditions. Both turtles swam away quite gracefully, albeit handicapped. The very popular weekly television program here in Hawaii called "Hawaiian Moving Company" was there to capture the day and produced a great story to educate more people about the plight of marine life in Hawaii. We had our boat go down for about two months after the release so we have not seen them since but we are confident that we will soon.

Commercial Netting in Waimea Bay #1
August 1999
Waimea Bay, North Shore Oahu

On this day we were out on the boat for some exploratory diving on the North Shore while on route we spotted netters in Waimea Bay. I had made a commitment to document all that I saw here so I along with Joe jumped into the water to film the netting from below. Doing this is no small endeavor as you are sure to make enemies in the worst way by doing so. This to us was all the more reason to do so, it is threats of violence that has prevented women, black people, and all oppressed to obtain justice throughout history and our situation was no different. We are committed to going all the way even if it means potential violence against us. I proceeded to film the sadness of an entire school being wiped out of Waimea Bay. Hopefully this will move others to stand up and oppose such events in the future. We shall see..

Turtle Rescue #9 "Bumpy"
Aug. 17th, 1999
Puaena Point, North Shore Oahu

While conducting a dive tour with customers I spotted another turtle with fishing line wrapped around him. I was able to capture him with little difficulty as this turtle also had multiple tumors and was somewhat lethargic. Fortunately the line had not done any damage yet so we spared him the even greater indignity of fin loss. But his tumors are thus far untreatable here in Hawaii. So on the counsel of National Marine Fisheries we reluctantly let him go. The sad reality is that we can only do so much sometimes and still others we can do nothing at all. Cases like Bumpy are definitely bittersweet experiences. At the least however we continue to document these encounters with the intent of reducing these types of realities.

Save Shark's Cove Task Force Appointment Meeting
Aug. 11th, 1999
Sunset Beach Elementary School, North Shore Oahu
Previous to this meeting we had made many attempts to solicit help and feedback from other Oahu dive operations to protect Shark's Cove. With only two exceptions nobody wanted to know. The resentment I feel about the blatant apathy that the majority of operations here show is substantial. I repeat what I believe is our obligation as businesses that derive our incomes from the ocean; if there are problems out there; we are compelled to do something about it. In the case of Shark's Cove virtually none will say the area is o.k. most all agree the area has gone from bad to worse over the years and who should know better than the people like ourselves who use the area. Despite this the dive operators got together on a hastily arranged meeting two hours before task force delegates were to be chosen. Almost exclusively the interest was in preventing any loss of access to one of the dive operator's biggest cash cows. Preservation and conservation were not priorities. It was on this day that I decided that I would separate myself from this group that reflected capitalism and greed at the expense of the environment they operate in. We had sincerely tried to work with these operators and concluded that their interests lie elsewhere. This I am sure will change with time. So I ran as a conservation delegate and won. The commercial divers put up their status quo delegate who has played unimpressive lip service and disguises the real agenda, "keep our unimpeded access in tact!"



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