Dive tournament supports two good causes, helps reefs

  • Rueben Kim / Special to The Garden Island

    Spear fishermen and their ohana look over a catch of invasive species during the first KIX-Kauai Invasive Xtermination Dive Tournament in August.

  • Rueben Kim / Special to The Garden Island

    This photo shows invasive ta’ape and toau caught during the first KIX-Kauai Invasive Xtermination Dive Tournament in August.

HAENA — Extermination was the name of the game at the KIX-Kauai Invasive Xtermination Dive Tournament in August, with 72 divers pulling 195 roi, 87 ta‘ape and 67 toau off the reef on Kauai’s Makua Beach, or Tunnels.

The first annual spearfishing tournament only targeted invasive species fish, with the goal of helping balance the reef ecosystem — it was a chance for fishermen to show off their skills in the water, create a better environment for the native fish and add a bit to the luau feast that followed competition.

To pull off the contest, organizer Rueben Kim and his team partnered with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources and Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana, managers of the community-based subsistence fishing area zone in Haena.

“The diving conditions wasn’t the greatest, windy and choppy, but the competing teams were still able to remove 195 roi, 87 ta‘ape, and 67 toau off the reef,” said Kim.

“All the competitors and their ohana worked up an appetite, and we were so blessed to be able to feed them a luau feast,” Kim said earlier this month, reflecting on the success of the tournament.

Also at the contest was Ku‘ulei Rodgers from the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology’s Coral Reef Ecology Lab. She and her team examined the fish caught and worked on research targeted at fish algae and gonads.

Presley Wan, Keli‘i Alapa‘i and Emily Cadiz from Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana were also on hand with educational materials while they conducted their own research, cataloguing the invasive species collected from the CBSFA zone.

While competition and reef-cleansing were the main activites of the day, Kim said money raised from the event is going toward two causes: a local family that needs help with medical bills and the YMCA of Kauai Camp Naue in Haena.

“We wanted to help a fellow spear fisherman and good friend Donovan Gadingan, whose 10 year-old son Aidan was diagnosed with acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis, which is a rare autoimmune disease,” Kim said.

“They been traveling back and forth to Kapiolani Children’s Hospital for treatment for over a year, so we wanted to try and help offset some of the financial burden on the Gadingan ohana.”

Camp Naue is used by both camping visitors and local youth groups, and was damaged badly in the April 2018 floods, which caused revenues to dip.

In total, the KIX-Kauai Invasive Xtermination Dive Tournament garnered $2,500 for YMCA of Kauai Camp Naue and $5,720 for the Dadingan ohana for Aidan’s fund.

“It was a great success,” Kim said.

Tournament winners are as follows:

1. “Hammah Brews,” Hanalei Adric and Marnie Balubar, 114 points;

2. “Omer,” Jon Barretto and Justin Lee, 105 points;

3. “Piko Deep,” Jimmy Dean and Kepa Albino 77 points;

4. “Eastside Bangahs,” Justin Nagahisa and Kai Brun, 63 points

Biggest roi: “Good Manini Dive Crew,” Max Rovinsky and Kamali‘i Andrade, 4.4 pounds;

Smallest roi: “Provide,” Kawika Christian and Chance Kinney, 0.1 pounds;

Biggest toau: “All Blind,” Eddie Bernabe and Dreyden Iwamoto, 1.8 pounds;

First place mentor ream (one team member under the age of 12): “Eradicators,” Josh Tjarks and Nakoanalu Kelekoma


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


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