In honor of the ocean

Volunteers have been pouring into Surfrider’s Net Patrol and marine debris beach cleanups thanks to the call for flood relief help in the wake of April’s record rains.

“There’s been a lot of volunteers and visitors coming in to help with the flood relief and some people have gone from flood volunteers to marine debris volunteers,” said Barbara Weidner, vice president of Surfrider Kauai. “We’ve been putting them to work.”

And those with more of an adventurous streak have a unique chance on Sunday to pull debris from the beach at Unalau Harbor near Nawiliwili — but the trip isn’t for everyone.

“Sunday, we’re going back to the job we started in January with Sustainable Coastlines,” Weidner said. “It involves a boat and hiking into a place that a lot of people don’t get to see.”

There’s enough debris to fill 10 helicopter super-sacks at Unalau Harbor, Weidner said, and Sunday’s volunteers will be consolidating it for helicopter removal by Jack Harter in July.

“They contacted us so nicely and asked if they could help. They volunteered to fly the stuff out,” Weidner said. “We’re still working details out about that, but that was the piece that was missing in January.”

The Sunday cleanup is part of Surfrider Kauai’s World Oceans Day celebration, which includes a beach cleanup on the Eastside and a kids event during Hanapepe Art Night Friday.

Tonight features fabric artist Evelyn Roth and her larger-than-life inflatable marine animals like a tiger shark and a coral reef.

“Surfrider sponsored one of the inflatables, the monk seal, so that’ll be nice to have. It’s the main thing for the kids out there that night. We’ll have T-shirts and games, too,” Weidner said.

The event is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Storybook Theatre, and at other locations in Hanapepe.

Speakers and a marine debris art exhibit will be available.

Earlier on Friday, Surfrider is cleaning up from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. from the beaches known popularly as Donkey Beach to Da Crack.

They are looking for volunteers with 4×4 trucks willing to drive in via Anahola to remove several piles of debris, plastic and nets.

Buoys, nets, laundry baskets and other larger pieces of plastic have accumulated along the beaches and volunteers have already begun stacking piles for pick-up.

“That’s the area that’s really bad,” Weidner said.

Most of the debris that’s lining Kauai’s shorelines is back to the regular flow of marine debris, according to Net Patrol volunteers, and isn’t a result of Kauai’s April flooding.

“We were picking up a lot within those first two weeks or so after the flood,” Weidner said. “So far, we’ve gotten a lot of the stuff that came down the rivers and then into the ocean and back onto the shores.”

Refrigerators and other large debris were being removed from Waikoko through May 29 and now most of the shoreline cleanups are garnering the typical marine debris.

Part of Surfrider Net Patrol’s mission is to be an arm of citizen science. Volunteers weigh all the marine debris pulled from the beaches and keep a running total.

Volunteers with Net Patrol have been doing flood and other beach cleanup every Saturday since the April flood, and are open to help. For more info and to learn more about the Unalau Harbor cleanup: Barbara Weidner at 635-2593.

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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