LIHUE — In 2017 alone, volunteers with Surfrider Kauai retrieved enough litter from Kauai’s beaches to match the weight of two adult humpback whales.
Cigarette butts and plastic straws, derelict fishing nets and microplastics — the organization scoured the coastlines for more than 122,470 pounds of litter and nets.
The Kauai chapter has been cleaning the coastlines since 2006, and August marks the national organization’s 34th birthday.
Every chapter celebrated in their own fashion, and on the Garden Island, Surfrider volunteers and executive team did what they do best: They removed three and a half pickup truck loads of marine debris from Kealia and Donkey beaches on Kauai’s Eastside.
“We have an awesome group of core volunteers who love the ocean and are dedicated to protecting Kauai’s ocean, waves and beaches,” said Kauai chapter vice president Barbara Wiedner. “We had our booth set up with educational materials and games. We also shared the history of how Surfrider Foundation was formed 34 years ago.”
It was a soirée of pupu, cake and music by Charity Ann and local singer Sashamon.
“It was wonderful having Sashamon perform at our birthday party as he has supported (the) Kauai Chapter since 2006, when we first formed the chapter,” Wiedner said.
In 2017, Wiedner and Scott McCubbins received one of Surfrider’s Wavemaker Awards, which honor coastal protection leaders.
The pair are co-coordinators of the Kauai Chapter’s Net Patrol and Beach Cleanups and in the award presentation, Surfrider acknowledged the work the chapter does to turn trash into energy.
In July, the chapter dedicated their new marine debris processing center, located in Kapaa. It’s a center that is dedicated to holding the thousands of pounds of nets and litter taken from the beaches.
This summer, team members from the Kauai Chapter also joined the rest of the state’s Surfrider members in a statewide conference, during whichz they were able to network and gear up for the next 30 years of service.
“What started as a group of surfers that came together to protect Malibu from over-development and pollution has grown into one of the most powerful coastal protection groups in the world,” Wiedner said. “The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.”