Turning the Tide on Marine Debris

In 2016, Maui Ocean Center adopted a 2-mile section of Honoapi‘ilani Highway from the Aquarium to McGregor Point. This initiative was created to malama, meaning to care for, the land and sea around Ma‘alaea. Every quarter, employees and volunteers from the community gather to remove land-based litter along the highway while a team of Aquarium divers conduct an underwater cleanup of the nearby coral reefs.

Through this joint-effort of preventing litter from entering the sea and removing plastic and marine debris from coral reefs, it is our hope that these actions will help protect Maui’s marine life while inspiring others to adopt eco-friendly habits to sustain the delicate marine environment for future generations. Whether you’re looking for volunteer opportunities or simply want to take action to better our environment, Maui Ocean Center welcomes you to join the team and work together to malama the land and sea.

Next Cleanup: Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cleanup Details

Contact Susan Slade, Marketing Promotions & Cultural Coordinator.

E-mail: sslade@mauioceancenter.com
Call: (808) 270-7059

Maui Ocean Center hosts a Malama: Land & Sea cleanup every quarter of the year.

Fall: Sunday, September 17, 2017
Winter: TBA

Meet outside of Maui Ocean Center’s Admin Office (2-story corner building) at 7:15am for a safety briefing and team assignments. Cleanup will conclude by 9:30am. The team will meet at the Admin Office for a debrief, photo opportunities, refreshments, and distribution of Day Journey Passes.

Maui Ocean Center
192 Maalaea Road
Wailuku, HI 96793

Cleanup sites range from Maui Ocean Center (mile marker 6) to McGregor Point. The team will be assigned to cleanup sites along the highway or nearby areas.

For safety reasons, the reef cleanup is reserved for Maui Ocean Center divers only.

Dress comfortably for both sunny and windy conditions. High visibility, UV protective clothing, close-toed shoes, sunglasses, and hats are recommended. Please wear something that you won’t mind getting dirty. Rubber gloves and grabbers will be available. Personal, heavy duty gloves are encouraged.

Water and snacks will be provided. Please hydrate prior to the cleanup and continue to drink water throughout the morning.

Yes, for the safety of all volunteers, participants are required to be at least 12 years of age. Volunteers ages 12-17 are required to sign a waiver upon arrival.

Laying the Foundation for Malama: Land & Sea

Maui Ocean Center’s curatorial team has regularly conducted coral reef cleanups along Maui’s pali coastline with an emphasis on McGregor Point, an area that sees heavy traffic from commuters, shoreline fishermen, and other ocean activities. The dive team began documenting their cleanups in 2012, and since then, over 2,000lbs of marine debris ranging from fishing equipment to plastic debris have been removed from Maui’s coral reefs.


The most common debris collected includes fishing line, lead weights, and hooks, all of which have the potential to entangle or harm the Hawaiian green sea turtles, manta rays, Hawaiian monk seals, and other animals that frequent these waters. At Maui Ocean Center, the lead fishing weights are recycled into dive belts while the remaining items are used to raise awareness and educate Maui Ocean Center guests about the effects of marine debris.

Today, these cleanup initiatives are expanded through Malama: Land & Sea, bringing together the Aquarium divers, employees, and community volunteers to better the environment from mauka (the mountain) to makai (the sea).

Shedding Light on Hawaii's Dark Secret