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.

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.         

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.