SOAR has a serious side in its missions to help kids find ways of helping the ocean and watersheds throughout the world. I started on having seen hundreds of albatrosses killed by plastic debris at Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). I was inspired by the questions of young people in Ohio and by USFWS biologists working hard to protect endangered species and damaged habitats.

SOAR has a very fun and tough to define side.....thanks to FRED AND FRIENDS, Project SOAR helps with watershed and ocean workshops throughout the world, and generally makes people smile while they learn some tough stuff about how we treat our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the one ocean on planet earth..........


SOAR introduces young people to ways they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world.

Take advantage by:

1) Invite a SOAR learning kit or bring Ron Hirschi to your school as a guest author or speaker for your organization. Ron has many years experience as an author and as a biologist. SOAR adds another dimension to his list of hands on projects he shares in writing, art, and ecology workshops.

Many schools invite Ron for his work as author of more than 50 nonfiction books, including many with ocean themes. Others bring him to school as a scientist or artist, but the best fit is always when schools use Ron to help them integrate curriculum.

Tom Bates, Principal at Tremont Elementary in Ohio recently said in an interview following Ron's visit, "What stood out to me was how Ron was able to gear his activities and discussion and information so it was meaningful to the students, whether they were in kindergarten or fifth grade."

Be in touch at whalemail@waypoint.com for visit information.

2) SOAR now has a new kit circling the globe along with a Laysan Albatross "Friend of Fred". This duo is packaged with a box full of ideas, activities, information about Papahanaumokuakea, ocean debris, and other materials aimed at sparking new projects related to the sea. Also included is a journal chronicling Fred's adventures, all of which began when kids at Columbus School for Girls (CSG) learned how they could take action to help the ocean.

Currently, this treasured package is in the hands of The Bush School in Seattle.

NOTE: You might also be lucky to receive one of the earlier packages with a FRED and Friend, already traveling. To date, Fred has visited Australia, Switzerland, Israel, England, The Dominican Republic, and many corners of the United States.

30 December 2009


Me Fred
Pretty sure people Down Under


Down Under, they have Water Dragon Patrol!!!
No Fool You! See yourself.
I sat in wait at recycle bin.
Kids. Old People. Young People.
They all pay respect to Water Dragon.
Put can. Bottle. All recycle stuff in big barrel.
Not sure what Water Dragon Do if not recycle????

Me, waiting for kids go back to school.
Travel around with friend, Jody.

She so nice to show me Australia!!!
Think I might stay a while, but
fly off to England to be sure and
to Ohio to talk story with kids.

Gotta talk story with adult people too.

They old, but learn. Maybe?

Hey kids. You gotta help me, Fred.
Find way to have all old people help ocean!!!
Maybe we teach all old people surf!

Happy Surf Friday!!!
Wooden Board or No Surf Friday!!!

29 December 2009


Check out:


and remember to go PLASTIC FREE this and every Friday..........in Memory of X310


Sand samples have arrived from ocean beaches about as far apart as any on the planet and I am happy to say, no plastic was seen in any of these ---- from Long Island, New York (well, actually Fire Island); Seward, Alaska; and Australia's Dickey Beach in Calundra, Queensland.

For those of you who follow the mystery of black specks in beach sands, NO black floating objects were observed in the Seward sample. This, despite the presence of a coal loading dock very near the collection site.

There were black specks in the samples from Australia and New York. Like others from east coast and Lake Erie samples, the black particles remain unidentified.

Thanks to all who continue to send samples of beach sand from around the world. The sand will be shared with students during the new year ahead. I am hoping a young chemist will help identify the mysterious black specks.......... 

19 December 2009


According to a UPI.com report on December 18th, seven sperm whales that beached at Foggia, Italy, died from ingesting plastic.

"They must have mistaken the objects for squid, one of their favorite foods, said Guiseppe Nascetti, who teaches marine ecology at Tuscia University."

The plastics consumed by the whales strangled their stomachs which also contained ropes, cans, and other containers.

PROJECT SOAR is dedicated to ridding the ocean of plastics and to helping kids live plastic free. We are still asking for sand samples from around the world, especially from the southern hemisphere. The plastics that go micro and enter beach sands and the ocean as very small particles carry with them toxins that kill, but in ways not as obvious as those that strangle sperm whales and kill countless seabirds each year.

Thanks to Susan Berta of the Orca Network for the sperm whale news report.

13 December 2009


It's me, Fred the Monkey happy at Christmastime.
Me and my Happy Eye Monkey Family
have this tradition.
Every year, help from squirrels,
We put all our pennies in a giant clamshell
Okay, actually, we never spend penny.
All year, everyday, we put penny in clamshell.
Clamshell hand down from Pacific Islander friend. Way Cool deal.

So. this year, me Fred counting up the penny in clam. Big Clam to be sure.
Who to give money to?
Easy for Fred this year. Gotta help friends, Albatross out on Pihemanu.

All Fred Penny go to:

to help them make better habitat for albatross babies
by pulling up all not native plant, Verbesina!

Hey! Check this out too!
Me, Fred, big fan of Etown on The Mountain 103.7
when I'm home with buddy Ron. He like listen to Vinyl Cafe, me, Etown...
They have this show about guy who start penny project

You go school?
Start penny collection in big clam shell or just a jar or maybe baseball hat.

Check out:

Penny Harvest at:

You might just help someone need help!
Make people and albatross smile!

12 December 2009


Yippee! It's me, Fred the Monkey Wildlife Warrior
Here at Steve Irwin's Place.
You know, Steve, he helped so many animals,
not just find homes, but be in our mind
and in best place,

Fred love Steve and Family!
Will always keep Steve in heart of Fred.

Make Warrior Pledge:

Me, Fred the Monkey
Promise to help all animal of earth,
even down here under rest of world.

Gotta go find out more about Penguin in big trouble.
You know any artist draw good Crested penguin for Museum?

11 December 2009


Turns out Fred was originally cast to be the star
Crococile Dundee.
Go figure.

So it was with a lot of good memory he paid a visit
to Steve Irwin's place to visit the Salties.

Fred says some of the big Salties are 20 feet long.
Might live to be 100.
They might even be able to get by for an entire year on one meal.....
A big meal.
This is somethig Fred knows, so he can hop on a croc
while showing

Fred has a lot of respect for Steve and family and all Aussie friends.
Says he might just stay down under for a spell.
Rains have come to quench some of the thirst of dry lands.
And, surf is up along the Sunshine Coast!

but how does he get down off that snout?

Stay tuned.

08 December 2009


Fred is getting around down under and has even been revealing a great deal about his life.

Check out a recent interview in Queensland at: http://ausmepa.blogspot.com/

03 December 2009


I received a box in the mail today.
From the USFWS.
Many of you don't know them.
They are mainly biologists working so hard to protect endangered species.
Wolf. Grizzly. Eagle. Polar Bear.
They also work to protect habitat of species not yet officially listed
as endangered.
Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,
a few of them work to protect and understand a complex set of problems
generated here on the mainland.
One of the most serious concerns how our plastics enter the ocean
enter and kill some of the most magnificent creatures ever to soar.

I took this photo at a place of importance.
A burial site for albatross on Pihemanu, aka Midway Atoll.
Here, I saw hundreds of dead albatross.
My friends along that day were equally moved and saddened.
Every dead albatross was filled, as this bird was, with plastics
that included toys, markers, lighters, toothbrushes, and more
bottle caps
than we could possibly count in a week.

You are seeing one bird.
Millions of seabirds that we know of die each year by plastic ingestion.
In the case of albatross, the parent birds pluck the plastic from the sea.
They are adapted in a way curious perhaps.
Adaptation is like that.
They soar.
Then they alight on the water.
They pluck flying fish eggs and squid from the water.
Then, they fly maybe 500 miles back to their nesting island to feed baby.
Trouble is, they mistake plastic for the natural food and feed the deadly brew to
baby albatross.
Baby albatross like the dead one above must regurgitate
what biologists call a bolus (like an owl pellet)
at least once before fledging (flying off island to join other subadults on the sea).
Sadly, plastics often pierce their stomach.
Or, the plastics are so much a part of the contents of the stomach,
they can not toss it up.
I watched them die from this.

I wanted to add this photo well before Christmas
and will add far more after the New Year
mainly to help us to remember why we ought to be concerned
about the ocean.
We owe it to the little albatross to save our oceans.
Climate change is one thing, plastics seems another, but connected.
Reduce use of plastics and you will certainly save seabirds.
Reduce co2 emissions and you will save their habitat too.

So much to do!

You can help by supporting the USFWS and organizations
linked to this site. Unlike others, we at SOAR do not ask for your money,
we ask for your thoughtful consideration of the way we all live.
Send money to groups doing good work, but begin at home
Go plastic free this Friday for a start?

Mahalo nui loa

02 December 2009


What could be more beautiful than a baby Red-footed Booby.
I photographed this one on Eastern Island, Pihemanu (Midway Atoll).

It is testing its wings as winds blew across the tiny island from the lagoon.
Soon, it would fly off on its own to feed in its characteristic and spectacular fashion.

Unlike the Albatross, Boobies dive from the air, piercing the water, then grabbing
a fish before emerging and flying off, quite a ways from initial plunge.
You can see them dive if you watch the water from the shores of Kauai
and Oahu.
You can see them nesting along with many other seabirds at
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai.
Boobies, Frigates, Albatross, Nene, Shearwaters, Monk Seals, and Honu
can be seen up close here.
All winter, Humpbacks swim offshore of the lighthouse
and Spinner Dolphins swim past pretty much all year.

Opportunity to photograph courtesy, NOAA, USFWS, and
the State of Hawaii.
Thank You Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument!

01 December 2009


Okay. I've been close to orcas, otters, and eagles all my life.
But nothing compares to the close connection with Laysan Albatrosses.
This photo was taken by friend, Trevor out on Pihemanu.
Every time we gathered as a group, the birds preened my legs and prodded,
pecking at my shirt. Old guy must be friend? Don't know why, but they always came close.

Maybe that is what prompted me to work on their behalf.
That happened to a lot of my friends who work for grizzlies and other life in need.
All I know is whatever they might have had in mind, it worked.

I love the majesty and grace of Albatrosses.
They are one of the most beautiful and graceful birds on the planet
and need our help in so many ways.
In fact, I am convinced, if we save them, we save ourselves from certain destruction.

I will share in months ahead some more photos that are too difficult for me to post now.
I befriended a young albatross on Pihemanu
that came out to the edge of the water each day I did a study of plastics.
The young bird let me stay near as it tried to fledge.
I watched the water for Galapagos sharks, its natural predator in the lagoon.
I even swam out in search of the sharks.
You will see this bird attempt to gain independence of aina (land)
and soar off to kai (ocean).
You will watch and learn as I did.
And be treated to the lessons of young human friends
who asked the most difficult questions of me
when I was honored to visit
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Ron Hirschi
Project SOAR 

29 November 2009


I had the honor of visiting Papahanaumokuakea
Marine National Monument this summer.
Prior to the journey, I asked kids to ask me what I should be looking for
and what questions they might like answers to about the ocean.
One of Mrs. Charna's Book Club students asked
How has climate change affected Humpback Whale Migration Patterns?

I turned to whale biologist, Jan Straley, for the answer.
She said the the melting ice has increased summer habitat for the whales.

Where Polar Bears once walked, Humpbacks swim.

Artwork by Yuko Green
from Winter is for Whales by Ron Hirschi and Yuko Green. 

24 November 2009


You Know. Me, Fred the Monkey happen to be luckiest for sure animal on planet earth.

I gotta tell. Girls at CSG treat me so nice and even make board game,
Monkey SEA Monkey Do in honor of me and my Monkey People.

Game help kids Malama i ke Kai - Protect Ocean like Family.
Family all about.
My Ohana (Family) Really Big now.

gotta tell secret though. I snuck down here to Australia. Queensland way.
New best fun buddy Jody show me around
even though I kinda toss banana around when first arrive.

You know how far Bexley from Queensland?
First best answer get a big banana from me, Fred and a lot more good stuff I tell
buddy Ron send you. Some a his smoke Salmon, yeah!

So, here I am in land down under upside down after be in papahownowahowa as they
say down here. Gotta learn lingo new. Barbie not doll. Grill up banana on.


Hear talk a Saltie.
You know what Saltie?
Say Croc big time.
but me, Fred, good surfer Monkey be friend Tiger Shark, Orca, and Ulua.
Maybe Croc not swallow Fred?

Goin adventure. Wanna sure see Aussie Ocean Fun!!!!
Me, Fred send Love home. It Thanksgiving time and me, Fred gotta
tell buddy Ron Family this:

Gotta LAUGH at all everything. Good bad in between find love of laugh.

gift this time of year from Happy Face Clan. Monkey Sea. Big Blue Planet Ocean Blue.

Aloha nui loa,   Fred   

20 November 2009


Look at Me, Fred the Monkey with my best ocean friends ever at Columbus School for Girls!!!! Thank you Mrs. Charna and all teachers and students of CSG for making me so very welcome! I miss you so very much and can't wait to come back. This spring okay by you??? I hope so.

Check out on table. That too way cool Monkey See (Sea?) Monkey Do Board Game is so fun and teach
a lotta watershed and ocean information!!! How many monkey have mover with picture of their face? You make Fred blush pink Monkey blush........you too very nice.

Kids around world will be playing Monkey Sea Monkey Do real soon. You know. Kids like you change the world. You Malama i ke Kai ame ka 'aina.......Protect Ocean and Land. You very wise beyond years.

Mrs Shaw, Mrs Steele and best of kind person, Charlotte and all teacher and Mrs Joan too..... Thank you for talking story in my journal. People be reading all about my visit with you when Me, Fred come to their school (and surfing beach!).

Aloha nui loa,   Your Buddy, Fred


Aloha and Happy Plastic Free Friday!

Today I've pretty much gone over completely to the Copic Multiliner SP, a refillable, METAL BODIED, thin line marker. My friends at Akamai Art Supply in Port Townsend, Washington sell these and after writing with them, I won't go back to the Faber Castells I love to use unless Faber Castell comes through with a refill OR I figure out how to refill them myself.

Also wrote back and forth with Crayola. They are responsive, but wouldn't say if they have refillables in the works or not.

Here is the challenge, this being the week before Thanksgiving:   Try to find a turkey that doesn't come in those tight fitting plastic bags. When you do, you might help the planet in many more ways than you can imagine. Turkey farms and small grocers do sell fresh turkeys and if you have never had wild turkey, think on hunting for turkey or sharing a meal with hunter friends.

Stay in touch for news of our Plastic Free Friday Poster Contest.

19 November 2009

Fred Creates New Museum and Daily List of Endangered Ocean Life

Fred texts me today to say he met with some design and architecturally creative people in Australia last night after a brief tea with Al Gore and some representatives of the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright, Fred has begun moving forward with his Museums for the endangered of the oceans.

Fred loves Hawai'i more than any place on earth and will work to Malama i ke Kai all his life. He also loves the entire world ocean and will share with all of you the love he feels as he brings you the BEST of sites to find information about people helping oceans.

He will try best as he can to bring you the voice of the endangered AND the links to people who are not just talking, but swimming the swim to help. Keep in touch at his new site, http://www.museumoceanlife.blogspot.com/ where he posts the notes from animals and his ongoing creation of museums with plants, animals, kids, and others who care.

If you want to join in creation of a Museum of Ohio Endangered, Kauai Endangered, Chilean Endangered, or wherever you live, be in touch with Fred. He is the Monkey who might just change the world. The Ocean to be sure. He is that kind of Monkey.

Surf with him too. Be there at good breaks.

This site will continue to share his Postcards and other info about Project SOAR! But go on over to his new blog to hear him and his close ocean friends. He speaks fluently, pretty much every language on the planet. So, he has a way better sense of what is happening. He says, "I hear. I listen. I pass it along best I can with a whole lotta Aloha!"

He says what he really means is I Love You..........Aloha nui loa, Fred


14 November 2009


It's me, Fred.......Sorry to be writing in a sad way, but me and my new friend, Ed stopped
at the Museum of Hawaiian Endangered Species.
This is a picture hung on a side of a beautiful wili wili tree.
I was touching the wili wili, remembering my surfer buddies telling
me surfboards used to be wood of wili wili instead of plastic.
That's when I went in search of a Alaia Board I'm gonna surf with,
Plastic Free!!!

When I saw this picture, I cry. Me, happy Monkey Fred.......

There on the bark of wili wili tree, down by nice waves, in sweet Kauai air
was Memorial in Memory of X310, X532, X357, X536............
All my best buddies, Albatrosses up at Pihemanu no longer flying.
All these red leg bands from my once soaring friends.
Majestic birds, Most beautiful ocean bird on planet earth.

We gotta get plastic from out of sea.
We gotta surf on board of wood.

President Obama, my buddy. Listen up for your next surf trip to islands.
Me, Fred, Me will get you good board just for you and family to ride. Yippee I feel better on that!

Fred on Kauai.

13 November 2009


Here's me, Fred and my buddy, Nene at Hanalei.
Hanalei is my favorite surfing beach where I get to try out my new Alaia board soon!!!
Maybe Nene surf with me?

You know, Nene tells me she and her kind only numbered about 4 dozen birds not too long ago.
Next time you take eggs from refrigerator, think on that. 4 dozen.
So, Nene almost go extinct.
She was helped by nice man Paul Banko a while ago and a bunch of nice people
at places like the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. They protect Nene, and endangered species.

Nene is Hawai'i State Bird. Proud on that.

Long time ago, Hawaiians not too much interested in eating Nene.
Then foreign people come and cook up Nene and put them on whaling ships for food too.
That did not help. Then came dogs and cats and rats and other animals.
Over on Oahu, Me, Fred, saw mongoose!!!! Yikes! Nene very afraid of mongoose that eat baby birds.

So, Nene really like Kaua'i (what not to like, yeah!) because no mongoose.
Now, Nene doing okay here. They even love golf course where good food grows.
They really like the native plant called Naupaka. Little round, white berries good Nene food.

I looked at a list of other Hawaiian endangered species. Longer than all species in all other states
of the United States!!!

My buddy, Ron often asks keiki, "Where is the most endangered rainforest on earth?"

You know the answer?

Right here in these United States. Little tiny bit of native forest left where beautiful
birds like Apapane still sings but birds like the O'o gone........and many, too many others too.

But nice to know Nene doing much better. Good to know her.

Good too to talk with Kalo. That is Kalo growing behind Nene.
Some call this plant Taro. More than 300 forms grow here in the islands
where it has been a pretty much main food for all of time. Kalo is protected here in Hanalei.
Eaten too!!! Yummmy. 

Fred. Kaua'i. Northshore surf search for President Obama.
(Mr President. Good surf today up at Tunnels. Yippeee!)

Project Serious Sand - Kauai Update

Sand was collected on Kauai beaches from 28 October to 6 November 2009. It was placed in containers for use by others, but one film cannister full from each beach was scooped from the upper intertidal. The contents were placed in a glass bowl, water was added to cover as in previous beach studies. The surface of the water was then scanned with a 10X magnifier for any plastic that floats out from the more dense sands, rocks, shells, and pieces of coral.

Sand was collected around the island, but most from windward side beaches. This was partly to see if I got the same results as another study talked about below.


A total of Nine beaches were sampled. Five of these tested positive for micro plastic in the samples taken this fall. The largest amount (44 pieces of small bits of mostly blue plastic) was seen in the sample from the southern end of Aliomanu Beach nearest the town of Anahola and the wonderful stop at Duane's Ono Charbroil Burger stand where the Shoyu Burger shines.

I gotta add here that Duane's uses cardboard, paper, and pretty much no plastic. Mahalo Duane's.

Plastic was found at these beaches:

Haena  (1 piece)
Papaa Bay (9 pieces) For you fans of movies, the site of Harrison Ford and Ann Heche crashing in Six days and Seven Nights.
Aliomanu North (9 pieces of plastic)
Aliomanu South
Anahola North (3 Pieces of Plastic)

Plastic was not seen in the following beach samples:

Lumahai  (But you must see the beautiful sparkling peridot that does make up a lot of this sand.) Lumahai is a very powerful place with high wave energy and no protecting reef. The day the samples were taken, the front of the beach had been carved so that a ten foot vertical wall of sand faced the ocean as the tide dropped. The day before, this same beach front was a gentle, gradual slope. The "upper intertidal" is a wide swath of wind and wave swept beach where many people die each year when a sudden wave washes them away. Still, it is one of the best boogie board beaches and local kids love this spot. So do barracudas, common inches from the edge of the beach. 

Anini (Anini Beach rests within the protected rim of coral reef that is the longest in the Hawaiian Islands. This reef protects the beach from a lot of wind driven wave action and deposition of plastic and other objects is far less than other, more exposed beaches)

Moloa'a Bay southshore (Moloa'a is the first place I ever saw or recognized seeing micro plastic. It was in the form of nurdles, most probably washed away from a cargo ship enroute to becoming some kind of plastic product. This was several years ago when most of us thought most micro plastics floated ashore from ships. Moloa'a has some pretty high energy wind driven waves, but the bay is far more protected from drift moving up and down the island than, say, Aliomanu.

Port Allen pocket beach (Port Allen is on the south side of the island. A lot of debris accumulates here, but not so much as on the windward side of the island.

One additional piece of small plastic was observed in the samples taken. Remember Jacks? The game with the little playing pieces you place on the floor, then scoop up after bouncing and catching a ball? When my daughter was young, these were made of metal. Now, they are plastic. I scooped up a yellow Jacks (Jack?) in one of the sample......


It is not surprising to find micro plastic in Kauai beaches, especially in the fall when winds increase and movement of material accelerates along drift cells. Kauai rests within the North Pacific Central Gyre where floating plastic is well documented in the literature (Moore et al 2001; Pichel et al 2007 - complete refs available if you are interested) and now, in popular press (Rolling Stone October 29, 2009 has a pretty good account and many links on this site will take you there, literally).

I did not see micro plastic in the samples at Moloa'a although there was visible micro plastic here and there on the beach, noticed while coming and going on several occasions. In past visits to Moloa'a the beach was littered with nurdles and a lot of large plastic. This is one beach where locals have spent a lot of time cleaning up the beach. Mahalo Kauai!!!

In general all beaches of the island were cleaner than I have seen in twenty years of "casual" observation. Recent large scale beach cleanups have taken place. This rids the beaches of plastic that eventually is ground down into smaller pieces, but as pointed out in studies (Corcoran et al 2008 is focused on some of these same beaches), the micro plastics enter the beach in many ways. Low density plastic pieces can float onto the beach, but they break into small pieces as they are mechanically broken down along the beach.

The larger concentrations of microplastics seen in my study are similar to those of Corcoran et al. Their study suggests that plastics enter these beaches (all high concentration of plastics on the eastern shore of Kauai) more than others because of the way ocean currents wash against and along the shores of the island. They also suggest that more plastic accumulates here, but my experience suggests that large volumes also accumulate from Port Allen to Salt Ponds at Hanapepe along the south shore. I did not get out to Polihale along the west shore where no plastic was found in the Corcoran study, but where it would be expected mainly due to the long, unprotected sandy beach aka Barking Sands. More study needed?

The important thing here seems to be that micro plastics are a major part of at least the eastern shores of Kauai. Beach cleanups have helped reduce local supplies of large plastics that break down as they move along the shore. But plastic reaches the island in many ways and will continue to fall on the shores from the Pacific.

I talked with many people while collecting sand and while surfing, fishing, and just being on island. No one I talked with was aware of micro plastics. No one knew anything about Papahanaumokuakea, Pihemanu, or the death of marine life by plastics. This included locals and visitors. But as I left island, I had two nice conversations in the Lihue Airport. I was having my picture taken with Fred by a big window display about Papahanaumokuakea. People were, as always, taken by Fred and I pointed out the display to them. While they absorbed information about the National Monument, I showed them Fred's leg band. In Memory of X310 these people now know a lot about ocean plastics and the great place called Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Funny how a little monkey can teach so much to people like them and even the nice lady at the car rental check out...........Thanks for all your help Fred and for taking me out of the water long enough to collect these samples.         

12 October 2009

Postcard From Fred: CINCINNATI RULES!!!

Yep, that's me, Fred the Monkey, with kids in Cincinnati. Well actually we were up on the Little Miami River in the Mariemont Schools.......Did you know this is home of Graeters! And they have pastry plus their super ice cream. I think my buddy, Ron is still down there eating some blueberry buckle with black rasberry chocolate chip ice cream on top....But hey, we got some serious good science to report.

I mostly watched from the riverbank, but buddy Ron with super help from Sandy and Judy at the seine poles netted with the kids. They actually caught that awesome GAR --- Yep, it's long and skinny like a banana, but me, I stayed away. BIG, SHARP TEETH in that long nose. But it was a very friendly Gar. AND, Check this out: The kids caught all totaled in the Little Miami River:

1,415 Fish plus dragonflies, damselflies, lots of caddis, some stoneflies, frogs, a toad, crayfish, snails, tons of clams and mussels, and saw herons, an osprey, kingfishers, swifts, and lots of sticks chewed by beavers.......

Even better than numbers, we got lots of DIVERSITY. Biodiversity is where it's at. Kind of like rainforests that still have many kinds of species, the Little Miami River has a ton of diversity in its fish community. I know because I talked to the fish. They do not like bananas! Good for the fish. Good for Fred.

We caught 16 different kinds (species) of fish:

Five kinds of darters (Darters really need clean water, so they tell us a stream is healthy)
Bluegill (Jimmy got it!)
Two kinds of suckers
Three kinds of Shiners
Smallmouth bass
Grass Pickerel
Creek Chub
Gar (How cool was that - the 21 incher in the photo and a 23 incher too. Both friendly.)

All this means a lot. PLUS There was almost no trash along the stream. We only saw one old water bottle. Maybe it's because back at school I, Fred the serious Monkey who means business, saw recycling....Hmmm. Maybe communities that recycle take better care of their rivers and the distant ocean.

Hey! I also heard good things back at school. Kids were very curious about Pihemanu. They want to help the ocean and the albatrosses. Some even started imagining new inventions to take the place of plastic. Like how about refillable, metal marker pen sets??? Sounds good. Let's send a letter to Crayola about that one!

Thanks Mariemont! Go Bearcats!

Your Pal, Fred

28 September 2009


She was born in March.
Her world was once the most beautiful and remote place on earth.
Pihemanu. Aka Midway Atoll within Papahanuamokuakea.
She died in June.
She didn't have much of a name. A number, really. X310.
Tagged by devoted biologists, she became a statistic.
Laysan Albatross.
 Died before fledging.
One of the most incredible birds on the planet.
Adults fly more than a million miles in their lifetime.
X310 did not get to soar over the Pacific.
X310 died like thousands, millions actually, of other seabirds.
Plastics float to the sea from Ohio, California, and all corners of the earth.
Plastics find their way into food webs and lead to deaths we do not see.
But many of us are now watching over the ocean in new ways.
Listen. Read. Check ocean sites and imagine a new way of living, plastic free.

X310's leg band is worn by a silly little Monkey named Fred.
Fred is a Monkey who means business.
He tells a good story and talks up and down the coast and all across the country.
He knows the world of X310 and asks all to take responsibility.
 Kuleana in Hawaiian. Responsibility.
Responsible actions could have saved X310.
She was a beautiful young bird.
But there were no vets, no shelters, no humane societies protecting albatrosses.
No one, not even the most caring animal lover could have saved her when she ate plastic.
Everyone, each of us, could prevent future loss.
Live plastic free.
In memory of X310.

(See X310 Ocean Activity below)


Where's me, Fred the Monkey?

I'm right here with kids at Highland Park Elementary in Grove City, Ohio. We just went down to Marsh Run. That's Ohioan for Creek.

We caught all kinds of Darters and some minnows and creek chubs too.

I went over to Monterey Elementary too. All us kids went to Brown Run and caught a bunch of fish too and a giant bullfrog.

Here's our Bullfrog! Thanks to a Monterey Dad we caught lots!
Sure Great to have Moms and Dads in the Creek with us Kids and Me, Fred.

Catching Darters means good water in Marsh Run because Darters need lots of oxygen in their streams. Darters are little fish and they are very beautiful. Looking for them is really important in Ohio. Maybe Brown Run needs some water quality help because we didn't see any darters there. BUT KIDS NOTICED THIS: There was so much trash in both streams - bottles, toys, plastic bags galore - that kids decided to write to the mayor about a cleanup and kids in Mrs. Hootman's 4th Grade Class promised to start up a recycling project at school.

Back in Hawaii, I, Fred the Monkey, learned that one thing is important: Kuleana. That means Responsibility and all us at Highland Park and Monterey are gonna take responsibility to make sure our streams are clean. That way, the plastic doesn't flow on down the Brown and Marsh Run to the Scioto, to the Ohio and on to the Mississippi to the ocean. All my Albatross friends will be happy to hear that. Thank you Mrs. Hootman's class and all you kids in Grove City. You sure were fun to go creeking with!    Your Buddy,  Fred, The Monkey Who Means Business. Ocean Business.

26 September 2009


Thank you to all who have sent sand samples from all corners of the oceans, Atlantic and Pacific.

I hope you might continue to send samples, especially from Fall and Winter Beaches. I will collect sand on Kauai in October and hope to receive more from others of the Hawaiian Islands during the stormy season when beaches change so dramatically. I'll also post results of a study of the unidentified black specks as soon as that is available. There was thought of the black particles being mica, but comparison with mica flakes in sand from Maine leaves much doubt of that explanation of the "mystery objects".

As an update, here is a list of all the beaches at which micro plastic and/or styrofoam was identified from samples from June through September 2009. Keep in mind that the samples were taken by many individuals and represent an incredibly small area of each site. Most samples were single scoops the size of a film cannister. Imagine how much we missed on these and on the other beaches where no identifiable plastic was observed. Here are the beaches along with a suggestion for helping change this world wide problem:

Mackeral Cove Beach. Jamestorwn, Rhode Island
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Seascape Beach, California
Columbia River Near Mouth, Oregon
Ocean Shores, Washington
East Beach, Marrowstone Island, Washington
Marrowstone Point, Washington
Hilo Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Waimanalo Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Pihemanu, Midway Atoll, U.S. Territory

If you live near any of these beaches, consider organizing a beach cleanup and/or adopting the beaches in the vicinity. I've been doing this for several years on Marrowstone Island. I also posted a notice with photograph of trash on the beach at our local store, hoping to encourage people to help stop the flow of trash.

If you live inland, please consider adopting a small stream or riverbank. I was just in Ohio and saw streambanks covered with plastics of all descriptions near schools that do not recycle. So, for all those of you living in places where recycling is second nature, know that we have a long way to go in making sure plastics don't end up flowing into watersheds instead of good reuse programs.

Thank you again to all who have expressed interest in the serious sand project. There is much to be done to stop the flow of plastics into the sea. Cleaning it up is not the final solution.   

18 September 2009


It's me, Fred. That's my buddy, Monsoon. She's a Labrador and she helped me retrieve all this from the beach here on Marrowstone Island, Washington State USA. Flip flops, cell phones, toys, bottles, and 38 bottle caps on Labor Day.......lots of fresh plastic headed out to the bigger ocean.

Me, Fred, little me.......I think I have a job to do. I got to visit Pihe Manu, Midway Atoll with my buddy Ron. We went out there with so many good people who are now teaching others about the troubles of our oceans. We helped a guy start some film projects too. And now, I'm headed out to the bigger world.

Some of you have read the story of Evelyn. She is so very cool. She and her friends asked a lot of questions about Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the ocean, and the troubles with plastic. This gave me the idea of making up a journey and taking along some ocean activities.

I saw all this plastic here at my home on beautiful Marrowstone Island. Nobody seems to care much about the beaches here. From my studies of Serious Sand, it seems that nobody cares much about beaches any place on earth. That is sad for me and a tough story for me to tell to you. But, hey, I'm a Monkey and I want to be part of helping the planet for all of us. I met a whole lotta Albatross friends out on Midway Atoll and they told me to spread the word about plastic pollution. It really hurts them and their babies.

So, here I go out to the world. SOARing first to Columbus, Ohio USA. I'm starting there because I know something special. Oceans are so very beautiful. But Rivers are too and the rivers lead to the sea. So, I get to talk story with kids in Ohio about how the Scioto River goes to the Ohio and on to the Mississippi, then into the Ocean.

Last spring, I heard this beautiful story in Dublin, Ohio. I was hearing it from these special people who all went home one morning and got a little bit of water from their house and brought it down to St Brigid of Kildare where they all poured the water into a common bowl.........all water as one. That's how the ocean is -- one Ocean and it needs our help.

My next stop will be down under. I got invited to visit Aroona in Queensland, Australia!!! I hope those kangaroos don't like bananas. I hope I will learn what people are doing in Australia to help the sea. But it sounds a little scary. I saw someplace they have this thing called the Great Bear Reef. Yikes. Big bears all lined up along the shore??? Gotta find out more about this deal for sure.

Keep in touch right here. My sister Coco is staying home to take care of my buddies here on Marrowstone. She will keep cleaning up the local beach and talk story with my buddy Ron.


I'm looking for a good place to visit when I come home from Australia, so write to me or get in touch with my sister, Coco. She's the brains behind all I get to do........I just go for it. Somebody's gotta save the world!

Malama i ke kai !!! Protect the Ocean..........       

Aloha,   Fred      

20 August 2009


School is back in session and the morning commute might be your best time to think about the day ahead. Maybe it takes you half an hour or even an hour each way. Think of the time you would have if you were able to commute with an Albatross.

The photo above is a Laysan Albatross, just leaving Sand Island at Midway Atoll.

During the nesting season, both albatross parents feed their young. Each parent will leave once a week, communting to Bering Sea fishing grounds for a few days before returning to feed their chick. Each flight might take them 800 miles or more away from Midway. Trips of more than a thousand miles to get one meal for the little one are common.

Now that summer is about over, all the Albatross leave Midway. Adults will not return until the next nesting season. In the time away, they search for food while covering thousands of miles of open ocean. Some Albatross will reach the west coast of the United States. Most will fly as many as a million or even three million miles in their lifetime.

Like salmon returning to the stream of their birth, Laysan Albatross adults come back to the same location to nest year after year. On Sand Island, these nesting spots are littered with the past remains of lighters, toys, and other pieces of the 5 tons of plastic the birds bring back every year. Five tons of plastic fed to young ones by the adults.

To grasp the numbers more clearly, I've been turning to the art of Chris Jordan. His imagery helps to envision just how much plastic is entering the sea each day. Makes it easier to imagine how an Albatross can find so much of it bobbing around on the waves, looking like something good to eat. Click on the "In Your Consumer Face Art" link above to see some of Chris Jordan's work and look forward to what he comes up with after visiting Midway Atoll.....

I seem to be spending more and more time the past couple of weeks picking up fishing line, bottles, empty sun screen containers, and other debris along the beach here on Marrowstone Island. Lots of summer visitors are still around and they leave a lot on our beaches. The endless stream of plastic drifts away from the beach just as the Albatrosses are leaving Midway and heading to our shore.

I'm told that the plastic industry poured enough money into a campaign to stop the City of Seattle from limiting the use of plastic bags in retail stores. Maybe it went down to defeat because the city wanted to impose a tax on each bag used. The vote was just yesterday. Maybe some of you will come up with a better way than taxation to stop the use of plastics. Think on it on your morning commute.

10 August 2009


Why is Papahanaumokuakea important to Native Hawaiians?

How much garbage do you think is in the Eastern and Western garbage patches and does this affect people?

Has global warming affected the migration of humpback whales?

Did some of the plastic get into the ocean on purpose and if so, why?

How much plastic is accidentally fed to the average albatross chick?

Is there a safe amount of plastic for an albatross to eat? In other words, is there a limit to how much they can safely eat?

What kinds of trash do people most commonly find in dead albatross chicks?

Does the plastic endanger parrot fish?

Can we help organize a research club to help the albatross and the environment?

These are some of the many questions sent to me by kids after they learned I was visiting Midway Atoll this summer. Several teachers told their students about my journey and helped them with research into Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the issues of ocean health we might encounter at Midway. As you can easily see, the questions above reflect some serious thought. What you might be surprised to learn is that ALL of the above questions are not from high school or college students, they are from Kindergarteners............

The first question was thoughtfully answered by Walterbea Aldeguer in this way: "Aloha, The answer lies in the question, How much do you love your Grandparents?"

Other PAA participants were kind enough to reply to some of the other questions and all of the dozens of questions were answered with hand written and illustrated postcards from Papahanaumokuakea. Biologists on Midway also helped as did whale and seal biologists.

Finding answers was not so easy and no so complete. That is why the last question helped set SOAR in motion as a way to seek solutions to ocean plastic problems and other watershed and ocean issues. SOAR fills a need for young people to find a way to help the ocean and the world around them. The kids want to know answers to our toughest, most difficult questions.

The cousin of one of the participants at Midway wrote a very powerful song that speaks to much of what we feel as we start out with SOAR. Mickey's song, Hawai'i 78, was made popular by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and it asks us to wonder what our ancestors would think if they came back to see what we have done to their beautiful island home. Check out the song on Iz's Facing Future CD.

Likewise, Jane Siberry implores us to think deeply to make sure we act in ways that malama i ke kai ame ka aina (proect the ocean and land). She looks forward in her beautiful song, Bound by the Beauty. The lyrics demand we do right when she says she's coming back in 500 years and the forests better still be here!!!!! Jane has kindly allowed me to use the lyrics in a book I've been working on for a while about women who have helped the environment. I'm glad I've not submitted the book, knowing now that I must add some of my kindergarten friends in its pages. Young women with great minds, great hearts.

If you are a teacher, by all means ask your kids to ask tough questions and send them to me. I will pass the questions around to knowledgeable scientists or try to answer myself. And, you'll get back hand written and illustrated postcards much like those we sent from Papahanaumokuakea.

31 July 2009


I'm told often enough that before you can soar, you must have a successful takeoff. Likewise, restoring the ocean begins with simple first steps on one piece of water at a time.
SOAR has had its first successful takeoff and it began very close to home. As you can see in the photo, Fred's family is growing. A new little one was adopted --- little Mawnkey. Fred and Coco are enjoying the new addition.
Our own daughter joined us quite some time ago. When I returned home from Midway, she and I had great conversations about the plight of the oceans and what our individual and business responsibilities were in dealing with plastic.
Nichol has a business making dog collars and leashes along with "People Gear" that is sold in shops and at the handmade artful site, Etsy.com. Check her work out at LodiandLewi and look for her beautiful leashes and collars in shops across the country.
When Nichol looked at her work, she realized that her water bottle holder (a kind of leash or tether you can use to carry the bottle with you) was designed for disposable plastic containers. In fact, when she did art fairs, Nichol ordered disposable water bottles with her logo printed on the labels. Taking a look at our SOAR ideas, Nichol redesigned the holder so that it can't be used with disposable bottles. And, she ordered reusable stainless steel water bottles with Lodi and Lewi, Dog and People Gear printed on them. Now, Fred and Coco can bring little Mawnkey down to the beach and offer a drink in a bottle that goes home with them to be used again and again.
Thanks Nichol and thanks to all who think ocean when they buy food or any products that might have non-plastic alternatives for wrappings or content. You can order a reuseable bottle from Nichol and if you have little ones in your family, check out Organic Grace, a great online company that sells non-plastic tippy cups and other ocean friendly good stuff.

27 July 2009


While on Midway, I walked each morning to a beautiful beach I started calling Monk Seal Point. Others say Rusty Bucket because of the military debris scattered along the shore. Plastic Beach might also work..........
This is typical of the beach and pretty much what the north end of the island looks like as you walk along, hoping to see a shell or chunk of coral. Lighters and bottle caps, toys and endless chunks of broken plastic litter this, one of the most remote islands on the planet.
I scooped a teaspoon of sand from this spot. I added a little water. Under a hand lens, I counted more than 150 pieces of plastic. Micro and toxic, these plastics are one with the beach sands and one with the ocean. I'm told that some kinds of plastic absorb PCBs and other poisons that are so common in marine animal bodies. I know that PCBs are incredibly damaging to marine mammals, altering immune systems for example. If anyone knows how they affect fish, do comment.
To help understand and call attention to micro plastics, I've been asking for beach sands from around the world. I will post a note soon about preliminary results. Already, I've seen micro plastic in a sample from the beach near where I live on Marrowstone Island in Washington State. I've also seen micro plastics in beach sands from the outer coast of Washington where visible, larger plastic debris is a major part of the beaches where cars drive out onto the intertidal at Ocean Shores.
SERIOUS SAND is one project of SOAR. It has already been tested with teachers and is a simple, eyeopening way to do some science with kids. Simply visit a beach. Collect sand from areas where the natural and unnatural debris accumulates along the strand line. Add water to a small sample in a glass bowl. View under a hand lens or dissecting scope to check for micro plastics of about 2mm or smaller in size.
You might also find nurdles, the basic ingredient of many plastic products. Apparently, these are transported by ship and often spill into the sea. I'm guessing that far, far, far more plastic enters the sea as waste from our shores. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 tons of plastic wash ashore on Midway Atoll each year. Of identifiable plastic, 22% is land based and 18% is fishing industry based. 55% of the land based plastic arriving at Midway is in the form of bottle caps.
Okay. So you found some micro plastic. What can we do? My take on this is to go directly to producers and find ways we can help them reduce or eliminate plastic in their products. One way to do this is to partner businesses with schools. Ask kids to soar into the future with invention contests, encouraging them to create new ways of recycling, designing new products, and imagining some techniques of eliminating existing plastics from the seas.
If you found no micro plastic, this is good. But if you take your students on a walk along a lake shore, riverbank, or ocean beach, chances are good you will be able to do a great job of cleaning up plastic debris. Bring this to a recycling center to learn how much plastic waste accumulates in your community.
As an indoors project, take a look around your classroom or your home. Count the plastic products you use each day. Can you eliminate some for the health of the ocean? Can you imagine a new way of using this same kind of product without plastic involved? If it is a bottle of water, remember how we all used to drink from the faucet? And consider buying a stainless steel, reuseable drinking container. These are starters, but if you are a teacher, think way beyond this. Chances are you have a student in your midst with the best idea possible to help the sands, the sea, and the planet go plastic free.
First thing. You need to get kids excited by doing a little research. Visit sites that explore the ocean plastic issue. View the beauty and the problems at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Soar with the Albatrosses to help save their ocean.
Start a new SOAR project and share it with us.
Aloha from Marrowstone Island, Ron Hirschi

Project SOAR

Project SOAR found its way when a group of us landed at Midway Atoll within the newly created Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Accompanying us was Fred. Fred had snuck into my suitcase when I was visiting Paula Vertikoff's Kindergarten classroom in Dublin, Ohio. According to the kids, the little monkey had been a part of their classroom for the entire year even though they'd never seen him. Apparently, Fred would make a mess. Kids would come to school, see something missing or disturbed, and Fred would get the blame.......

At about the same time, I was gathering questions from kids ----- questions they wanted me to investigate while on Midway. Paula's kids wanted to know if monkeys lived in the islands. If you take a look at Fred's photo at the top of my blog, you can clearly see that Fred found at least one, his new friend, Coco.

But other kindergarteners asked other kinds of questions that led to deep thinking about what we are all doing to the ocean. As we walked around the islands, plastic was everywhere. So too were hundreds and hundreds of albatross, dead from ingesting plastic toys, bottle caps, toothbrushes, lighters, and pieces of broken buckets and buoys.

The sands of Midway were also filled with plastic. Plastic gone micro. Tiny fragments of blue, red, and lavender plastic mingled with beautiful fragments of coral and shells. What food webs will these toxic plastic pieces enter.

One child at another school asked many questions about plastics. She had gone to the Papahanaumokuakea website and studied the issues related to plastics in the North Pacific. Evelyn knew more than I about the ocean plastic problems and when I visited Midway I felt a strong sense of responsibility to be her eyes and ears.........She had asked me if we could form a research organization to help the albatross and other ocean life.

Standing on the beaches and watching the albatrosses live and die, fly and lay their bodies down, I could imagine young people wishing each of the birds could soar.........I could sense a past, my own childhood when plastics were first entering the oceans. Now that my generation has filled the seas with plastic wastes, it is well beyond time to clean up and it is definitely time to find new ways to eliminate or greatly reduce our use of plastics.

SOAR --- Save Our Albatross/Research ---- is a way to help young people reduce plastic use in their schools, homes, and communities. SOAR was publicly launched in Honolulu when student leaders from each of the Hawaiian Islands met to find service projects for their schools in the coming years. Challenges to eliminate use of bottled water, increasing the recycling of plastic bags, and other ideas are being initiated. On the mainland, Breidablik Elementary students met the challenge of SOAR during their summer break, promising to cleanup the beach and stream near their school that is within the Jump Off Joe Creek Watershed.

No matter where you live, you can join SOAR by removing plastic debris from your watershed so that it does not float on downstream to the sea.

Each year, adult albatross fly out to find food for their young. They search mainly from flying fish eggs and squid. Too often, they find plastic that looks like food. In just one year, they bring back 5 tons of plastic. They soar widely, flying more than a million miles in a lifetime. Albatross fly to the mainland. They fly north and west. We can hope our efforts will lead to cleaner seas in the future. When Evelyn is my age let's have a clean ocean.

Ron Hirschi Marrowstone Island, July 2009

X310 Plastic Ocean Activity

It's me, Fred, the Monkey.

If you look closely, you can see I wear X310's leg band around my neck. It's to remind me of her. She was a Laysan Albatross. She was born in March 2008 and lived on Pihemanu, one of the most remote atolls on earth, now part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

You can wonder about Pihemanu and about X310. She didn't live very long, dying in June 2008. Her parents flew thousands and thousands of miles finding food for her. But x310, like lots of baby albatrosses died before she got to soar the seas. Some albatrosses fly three million miles during their life. Like X310's parents, their sea is a new challenge in food finding because of our actions on land.

Adult albatrosses fly more than a thousand miles just to get a single meal for their babies. But the ocean is full of plastic. And if you read my buddy, Ron's blog and website, you learn about plastic in the sea. It is everywhere and babies like X310 die because they eat so much plastic, they can not get it out of their stomachs.

Where's all this plastic come from?
Where does it go?

Here is a simple activity:

Get up from your chair and walk around the classroom or wherever you are sitting.

Write down each thing around you that is made of plastic.

Everybody compare lists and make a total of the plastic products.

Now, the hard part of this activity:

Can you find alternatives for the things you use, alternatives not made of plastic?
Maybe start with drinking water from a fountain or glass or reuseable container?
Maybe start a really good recycling project?
Maybe make some art from recycled plastic?
Learn more on links here on this site and others.
Talk about times with no plastic.
X310 would have appreciated if people, just a few years ago had decided to make a plastic-free world for you....
You and X310.

Learn how you can SOAR with FRED by arranging a visit with Fred and his ocean teaching kit by emailing his banana provider at whalemail@waypoint.com


What you need:

Pint size plastic beverage container with wide mouth (about 1.5 inches) ---This approximates the size of a baby albatross stomach and esophagus.

Important to have the lid too.

Enough plastic items (bottle caps, toothbrush, legos, fishing line, small chunks of nylon rope, markers, pens, more bottle caps and even a few more bottle caps since they are pretty much the most common marine debris.

Talk with your audience of kids of any age about ocean debris and the way adult albatrosses fly out a few hundred or even a thousand miles to find flying fish eggs and squid for the little ones. They return to Pihe Manu or up on the Northeast shore of Kauai, find their young one among thousands of others and begin to feed by regurgitating "food".......

As you talk about this, have the kids place one or two pieces of the plastic into the bottle.

Replace cap with each addition of plastic. Shake gently to mimic bird moving around the nesting area a bit.

Remove cap. Shake gently to mimic the bird trying to dislodge "food" that can not be digested. In a perfect ocean, this would be squid beaks, fish bones, or other natural pieces of food.

Add more plastic, repeating above until no plastic falls out of the bottle when cap is removed (bill is opened) and the bird tries and tries, but can not toss up the mass of debris. See how much and how many different kinds of plastic can be added. Does the rope tangle with the legos and bottle caps. Do five bottle caps cause a blockage in the esophagus???

In nature, the upchucked mass is like an owl pellet and is known as a bolus. Natural foods slip freely through the esophagus and more feeding can continue. Most times, a baby albatross will toss up one bolus before leaving the nesting island. Unfortunately, thousands die because plastic blocks the stomach completely.

Your feeding the baby albatross activity can lead to a lot of discussion of plastics we use, discard, then find their way into the ocean and into the mouth of a baby albatross.

If you want to have a Baby Albatross Feeding Kit, complete with some plastic items that actually came from once living albatross at Pihe Manu, Papahanaumokuakea, be in touch.