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Coast Guard Rescues 50-Year-Old Female Who Went for Accidental Overnight Swim

The Coast Guard rescued a 50-year-old female swimmer Sunday, who had reportedly been in the water overnight.
Keehi Lagoon
At 11:20 a.m.Sunday, good Samaritans aboard the Navatek I, a tour boat operating out of Honolulu, spotted the woman in distress in the vicinity of Ke’ehi Lagoon.

She was recovered by a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu at 11:30 a.m.

She was taken to Kewalo Basin Harbor where local emergency medical services personnel and the Honolulu Police Department were waiting to provide further assistance. The swimmer reportedly appeared in good condition and declined any medical services. 

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu’s command center received a call at 11:25 a.m.Sunday, from the captain of the Navatek I informing them that they located the swimmer approximately 1 mile out of Ke’ehi Lagoon.

The woman reportedly told responders she went swimming between 9 and 10 p.m. Saturday, in the Waikiki area and was taken out to sea by the current.

“It’s never a good idea to swim by yourself, especially at night,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Lenk, a duty watchstander at Sector Honolulu. “If you are going out, inform someone where you plan to go as well as when you plan to return. That way if you do not return promptly, the proper authorities can be notified to search for you. We are happy that she was located safely especially after a long night in the water.”

Honolulu Harbor Water Quality Appears to Be Returning to Normal Visual Conditions

Divers completed a survey of Honolulu Harbor in the immediate vicinity of the initial release and found no visible evidence of molasses, Tuesday.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, prepares a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, prepares a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The dive survey covered an area on the bottom of the harbor of approximately 200 feet surrounding the source of the initial spill. The diver investigated the areas under the pier around the pilings and along the seabed out into the harbor.

“The seabed under the wharf and into the channel was observed to be in normal condition, with no pools or visual evidence of molasses,” Kevin Foster, U.S. Fish and Wildlife marine ecology specialist. “The consensus was that the molasses is no longer in the area.”

The dive included a live video feed to the surface where representatives from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directed and observed the nearly two hour survey.

Water quality appears to be returning to normal visual conditions. Water sampling and testing continues in the harbor and Keehi Lagoon.

Molasses Spill Closes Keehi Lagoon

Effective today, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed Keehi Lagoon to commercial and recreational ocean activities – including fishing and canoe paddling – for public safety due to impacts of Monday’s molasses spill in nearby Honolulu harbor. Warning signs are being posted by DLNR and the Hawaii Department of Health.

Molasses Sharks

“We are asking the public’s cooperation to keep out these waters for their wellbeing as conditions are unsafe for public activity due to risks of attracting ocean predators, as well as the possibility for contamination due to decayed marine life and bacteria,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We are working with the Department of Health to post warning signs along the shores of Keehi Lagoon, small boat harbor and west side of Sand Island nearest Keehi channel. Our officers will also patrol the area to warn the public to remain out of these waters until water conditions are safe again.”

The closure will affect two permitted commercial thrillcraft (jet ski) operations in Keehi Lagoon, Aloha Jetski and Diamond Head Parasails and Water Sports. These companies will not be able to continue renting jetskis to clients to use in the lagoon jetski riding area.

“The operators understand the reasons why we are closing them for the time being,” said Aila. “They are able to make a claim to Matson for lost revenues.”

DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Rcreation (DOBOR) is also restricting any recreational use of thrill craft in Keehi Lagoon and the designated riding area off the reef runway. DOBOR staff is reaching out to canoe clubs that launch from Sand Island State Recreation Area, and has also contacted the ILH regarding a planned kayak event scheduled tomorrow at Keehi Lagoon.

 

Department of Emergency Management – “Stay Out of Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon… Increased Sightings of Dead Fish”

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) reminds the public to stay out of the water at Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon, and not to collect or consume any fish or marine life from the area. The dark water plume caused by a large spill of molasses into Honolulu Harbor on Sept. 9 persists today.

Mollasses Fish

DOH has tripled the size of the clean up crew in response to reports of increased sightings of dead fish; there are now three (3) boat crews working during daylight hours removing dead fish from the waters of Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon. As of yesterday, hundreds of dead fish have been collected. It is expected that thousands of dead fish will be collected and many more killed by the contaminated water. Fish collected are documented and are being kept on ice for possible testing. Water monitoring samples are collected daily to determine the location and concentration of the molasses contamination. This data will enable DOH to estimate the impact and duration of the contamination.
Mollasses Fish
It is anticipated that the plume may remain visible for weeks as the natural tides and currents slowly flush harbor waters into Keehi Lagoon and out to sea. Areas where the public normally has access to the lagoon and harbor have been posted with warning signs. DOH, the Departments of Land and Natural Resources and Transportation management staff and law enforcement officers are patrolling the affected area to regulate public access and ensure safety.

Matson has acknowledged their responsibility for the molasses spill and is working with state and federal agencies to assist with the spill response activities.