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.

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      

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.