Oceanography conference 'pays it forward' at Magic Island - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oceanography conference 'pays it forward' at Magic Island

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Ocean Sciences Meeting going on at the Hawaii Convention Center is bringing some of the field's brightest minds to Honolulu.

"This is the foremost oceanography conference in the country" said attendee Noah Oppenheim.

For a day, however, the convention took a backseat to the reefs off Magic Island.

"The amount of knowledge right behind me is incredible, what they're studying and what they're looking at. But they all took the day to dive and pick up trash" said Liv Wheeler, co-founder of the local nonprofit Trees To Seas. Wheeler helped organize the volunteer reef clean-up, which was mostly comprised of conventioneers.

"I brought my own gear---all the way from Maine" said Oppenheim.

The group of scientists, students and researchers went out for approximately 30-45 minutes. Most used SCUBA gear, though some snorkeled.

All returned with trash. The top hauls were two automobile tires, an outboard boat motor, and a car battery.

There were smaller items to be had as well.

"A lot of fishing debris, fast food containers" said Oppenheim.

Though the trash pile was impressive once it was brought to shore, the volunteers were relatively impressed with the conditions underwater.

"It's not pristine, there is some sediment, but there's still a lot of fish" said Waikiki Aquarium employee Kari Barber.

Added Oppenheim; "I've seen much dirtier reefs than this. So for a reef that's so close to a large urban center, it's pretty impressive".

Still, Wheeler stressed the need for vigilance.

"It's the teeny little pieces that make a difference, that's what the animals are eating. So if people just make a conscious decision in their daily lives that will affect out there."

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