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.

10 December 2010



With Thanks to Peter Paul and Mary
for enchanting so many through the years
and introducing the magic of Hanalei Bay to the world.

In Memory of Andy Irons

Fred the Happy Eye Monkey was born by the sea
and surfed out of Black Pot
at a Bay called Hanalei

All the little Keiki smiled whenever he came.....
and Navy Ships would hoist their flags
When Fred called out their names

Fred the Happy Monkey
Loved all the SEAS
He helped out the Albatross,
BOOBIES (redfooted especially but ya don't have to sing that part)

then one day it happened......
Fred created SOAR
Now all the Keiki go down to their own shore!

They pick out all the plastic
and put it in its place
Fred smiles his Monkey smile
Knowing he helped save the Human Race!

Oh, Fred the Happy Eye Monkey
Loves all the Seas
and surfs and boogie boards all day
at a place 
HANALEI................not lee, it be Lei!

Happy Holidays for all Keiki and their moms, dads, teachers, aunties, uncles, kupuna
and most especially........for you, little Eva!



Whoever sends me a photo of a group of postable kids singing
Fred the Happy Eye

Aloha Hanalei FredX168
who now wears a genuine Albatross Leg Band,
courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service/Midway/
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
Battle of Midway National Historic Site

FredX168 comes 
with a journal, a sand sample collected at Hanalei
AND, get this,,,,,,,,,a small container of ocean water from Hanalei Bay!
A few other treasures, like shells and a Friend of Fred to be decided.... 

07 December 2010


Terry Lilley just posted this photo along with a heartfelt talk story......

See: http://terrylilley.wordpress.com/ for full story about this Gray Reef Shark
they tried, unsuccessfully to revive after it was caught up in a net......

This story comes the week of the death by propellers of a Bryde's Whale
here in Washington State Waters. I imagine a hospital ship maybe trying
best they can to patch up a torn up back of a huge whale someday, or,
as my wife, Brenda suggested in all sincerity......That Raw Honey that patches
human scars and healed our Labrador Retriever recently.....you know the

She suggested dripping from a helicopter,
Huge drops of Honey on the Whale.
Right smack dab on its back where you can actually see
at Orca Network's website,
the brutality of ship props that slashed that whale, not once,
but several times........

I told Susan Berta at Orca Network that her followers would be
a bit overshelmed to truly know......to see........to comprehend,
the millions of seabirds and
Marine Mammals killed each year by human intervention in the sea.

Seals wash up dead on Marrowstone all the time. Eagles, seabirds, and whales
are dying due to ships running into the largest of our marine mammals
as tiny pieces of plastic fill the throats of our "smaller" mammals and birds.

Fish. Does anyone care about Sharks?
Do sharks matter.........read Terry's beautifully written story.

I know it is the season of hope and kindness, but hey, let's be kind to the sea.
malama i ke kai
protect the ocean as you would your grandchildren

Big Thanks to Terry for his incredible educational work!
Go out with him on Kauai........and do check his work with surfing for anybody
who thinks they might not be able....out at Black Pot. hanalei. magic water.

06 December 2010


Barb Mayer took this photo the other day on a beach near her home on the windward side of Oahu. The scene could be along any accretion beach on any windward side of any island on earth.......Look closely along the drift line - the point at which high tide decided to go landward no more....

The blues and whites especially - Those are microplastics and Barb said it was as if a foam of plastic had washed ashore. But then, Barb sees this all the time. I do too, here on Marrowstone Island in Washington State, along the outer coast of Washington, and on the windward side of Kauai.

Barb is sending me samples of this sand and I am now working with high school teachers who will share the samples with interested students. I will keep you posted on results.

In the meantime, if any of you walk beaches or riverbanks or lakeshores, please take samples under a new protocol:

Walk along until you locate an accretion area. This is where sand and other materials settle along the shoreline. Typically, this is at a point, along a sand bar, or barrier type island - basically, where sand accumulates instead of eroding away all the time.

Grab a hand sized amount of sand along with the chunks of small plastic you see. This study is not meant to chronicle if, but where and why plastic enters the sea. We already know way too much about the "facts" of plastic in the ocean. We need to start doing serious sand study and more to alert people about possible solutions to this global crisis. 

Micro Plastics are here to stay and can not be removed from the ocean effectively. 

Micro Plastics can be prevented from entering the ocean and waste stream if 
people follow practical reduce, reuse, restore, recycle, repurpose principals 
discussed in many educational circles.

Please send samples to :

Project Serious Sand
PO Box 899
Hadlock, Washington USA 98339

Here are some links to sites with more information on plastic debris and ocean issues related to the ever increasing deaths by plastic, deaths of albatross, shearwaters, gulls, puffins, seals, whales, and pretty much all life forms..........

Ron Hirschi
Marrow Stone Island 

28 November 2010

MONK SEALS........WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT! Or Maybe.......It is All About Us?

This is young T12, a Monk Seal Pup born at Larsen's Beach on Kauai April 2010. I photographed T12 up and down Aliomanu Bay in late October. On this morning, the young seal had been trying to come ashore after a night of solo feasting, no doubt on lobster and other invertebrates or maybe a fish or two.......... T12 was being bounced on the head and body by a large plastic fishing buoy. The size of a bowling ball, the buoy is one of hundreds of thousands that break away from mile after mile of discarded debris floating in the world's oceans.

I walked around T12 and grabbed the buoy just as it was about to slip into the current and round the point and wash away into distant and remote Papa'a Bay. As if a gift for doing so, when I turned back to photograph the seal for identification, I looked to my feet and there, inches from the snout of the seal was a beautiful Hebrew Cone........a treasure to share with kids, just like this true life story.

Monk Seals love nothing more than to come ashore and bask in the air, partly to simply sleep, but also to avoid tiger sharks. Avoiding predators has been something they have had to deal with for all the centuries of their existence. Harpoons almost wiped them out during whaling days. Now, they must deal with the PCB/PBDE and other chemical threats like orcas and other marine mammals..........And, the threat from plastics is not just a hindering hastle like the buoy bouncing T12 around that morning.

Plastics wash ashore on all beaches on earth. Out at Pihemanu, I observed hundreds of dead albatross, killed directly by plastic. I also listened to biologist, Brenda Becker, mourn the decline of Monk Seal populations. One problem is genetics and the monk seal population size, post human arrival in their midst........But a much larger problem is the no doubt unseen deaths due to plastics, fish nets, cargo nets, and the many pollutants we directly or indirectly pour into the ocean each second of the day. (Note: The above photo of an entangle pinniped, courtesy Dr. Hans Van Weenen of the Netherlands; photo source: C.W. Fowler of the National Marine Mammal Lab, Seattle, Washington USA).

Do Monk Seals matter? That is another way of asking my earlier question about their major breeding grounds within Papahanaumokuakea. Add to this list........Do sea turtles, spinner dolphins, or mahi mahi matter?

Help us find ways of redirecting plastics from the sea. And check out a recent video at :
http://tinyurl.com/2fbtruh submitted by Vicki Osis.......Thanks Vicki! And Scuttlebutt/NMEA.

Project SOAR and Friends of Fred are now sending Teaching Packets around the world. The packets include An Original Fred, A Friend of Fred such as an orca, seal, or other animal in need of your help, a traveling journal, gifts from NOAA and the USFWS, along with activities, suggested projects, and links to schools and other community minded places of education.

Contact whalemail@waypoint.com of find a Fred somewhere in England, Switzerland, Australia, Hawaii, the Mainland USA and join Fred and Friends in their many water related projects.


I recently posed this question to some who care deeply about the fate of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. This place where, according to legend, Papahanaumokua and Wakea did their magic and created living space for all who need a foothold on planet earth.

Ever since visiting the atoll (aka Midway), I have thought of this large question, especially last spring when I was a guest of the US Marines as an artist and writer in residence at Mokapu Elementary. While at Mokapu, I learned a great deal about Hawaiian history, culture, and the history of the US involvement in wars in the Pacific.

I think most people know that Pearl Harbor stands as one of the most important military battle places. And yet, when I ask adults and children if they know where the first bombs were dropped on December 7, 1941, it is a rare (1 in more than a thousand) person who knows that the Japanese target on that day was first zeroed in on Mokapu.

Take a look on a map to see where this beautiful piece of Oahu is located. Visit the area today, tucked as it is alongside Kaneohe Bay on the windward side of the island...........Why would the enemy want to take out Mokapu before rising over the Koolau to drop more on Pearl? Certainly, to target the US Marine Corps stationed there, then as now.........but you have to wonder. Did they also want to damage or attempt to destroy the sacred ground of Mokapu? For, it was here, again according to legend, that the birth of the first Kai Kane happened........humans created here, so far from Pihemanu up on the fringes of Papahanaumokuakea --- the third place bombed on that day that plunged the United States into World War II.

I have been to Midway and Mokapu.........with chances to do so, I have hesitated a visit to Pearl Harbor. It's a long story, but my Dad could have been on the Arizona alongside his buddy, Chewy Mathison who went down on that battleship on December 7th.......Dad retells the story and also let me know recently, that he sailed past Midway during the war, on his way to South Korea and other destinations aboard an LSM. Like so many Navy Vets, he is humble about his war time heroics but I'm proud of what he accomplished.

Most of us who have gotten to travel to Papahanaumokuakea in recent months do so in hopes of bringing greater awareness of the plight of our ocean's health. Plastic trash has been a big focus of mine. It is also important for each of us to remember its place in the larger story of our planet and how the mythology of Hawaiians allows a beautiful way of thinking how life started. As a child of the 60s, I guess I lean as well on idealistic hopes that learning about Papahanaumokuakea, Midway, Mokapu, Pearl Harbor, and war in general.......that learning and sharing story of these interconnected places can help bring about world peace.

There is a power in these places far beyond human capability of understanding. Not that Papahanaumokua was ever a walking talking "Earth Mother" or that Wakea was dancing in the sky as Father of All.......Nope. I just love the story, just like the story of Jesus is so compelling, especially this time of year......And as one who gets to work with a lot of great teachers and thousands of kids, it is nice to have stories like the ones associated with Papahanaumokuakea in my pocket. To share, best I can.

Yes, Papahanumokuakea matters. It matters so much that I want to share my experiences there for as long as I am able. Few humans will ever have the opportunity of visiting Midway....Pihemanu.......But a heck of a lot of albatross, boobies, frigates, spinner dolphins, ulua, honu, and concerned scientists will be there, hopefully forever. Well, not forever, because the life kick started by Earth Mom and Sky Dad insured one thing would happen.......change. Just as the Big Island of Hawaii has risen from the depths, Pihemanu sinks under the very weight of its volcanic stone. Midway is sinking fast, geologically speaking, and so, we need to insure, more than ever, that the albatross, boobies, frigates, shearwaters, honu, monk seals, and other life dependent on ISLANDS find safe havens.

As sea levels rise, scientists can only send messages to those of us living on mainlands and main islands.......THE ISLANDS ARE SINKING AND THE SEA IS RISING.

Papahanaumokuakea, then becomes a kind of messenger from the past as well as a predictor of future outcomes. It matters to pay attention to what is going on out there, just as it is important to pay attention to Palau and other Island Nations. Listen up. Rise Up. Let your voices join with the creatures who need us to share our planet.

Ron Hirschi
Marrow Stone Island, Another Disappearing Piece of our Planet
November 2010  


22 November 2010


I took this photo a couple of weeks ago along Papa'a Bay on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

I also found a couple of glass fishing floats this same trip, a time of high surf along the entire windward coasts of the islands. It was nice to find the glass treasures, something I point out for kids in my book so beautifully illustrated by Yuko Green, WINTER IS FOR WHALES.

That book is for young people. This image is for those of us trying to figure out how to deal with the ever increasing disregard for our planet. Anyone who has read this blog or attempted to understand ocean issues knows that we are all to blame and we are all needed to find a fix for plastics entering watersheds and, eventually, marine food webs.

I remember being out on Midway Atoll not that long ago. Standing on the beach there, literally watching albatrosses and frigates dead or dying of plastic was truly a wake up call for me. I suppose if we all had to sit and watch a baby albatross die, we might feel a bit more of the resolve needed to come to grips with the issue? I don't know.

Regardless, you can see in this close view, just a small fraction of the beach plastic I removed from the ocean in just one morning. Fishing floats from Asia were much more prevalent on this day. I also noted more shampoo, conditioner, and other "health and beauty aids" washed ashore. You can see, quite clearly, that a Seattle box store contributes greatly to trash. Should we blame Costco for adding to the problem? Should we blame Taiwanese and Japanese float manufacturers?

All I can say is that I remember walking Kauai beaches just twenty years ago and finding far fewer "treasures" like this.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Marrowstone Island, Washington State

15 November 2010


Our daughter, like most ocean people, loved Keiko.

It seemed fitting today to help all who might gaze into Keiko's eyes
think back on the wider meanings behind capture, movie versions of oceans,
and what Keiko has meant.

Nichol loved visiting Keiko in Oregon.

You can guess what Keiko thought of her.
I know, as her father, that any living creature feels safe in her midst.

Thanks Cols for all you do to help others find the beauty.

And for any of you with powers of perception in all imagery dealings,
let me know if you can focus the image in the reflection.

This thought........it might, just maybe, show what Keiko saw in Nichol's eyes
that day.

From the shores of the Salish Sea. November 2010 as a half dozen orcas
swim nearby........

14 November 2010

Golf Balls Floating the Seven or Eight or Nine Hole Seas.........

Aloha Sunday and a big win for our Seattle Seahawks today. Great game and great to watch it with son-in-law, Scott...........Scott is a pretty competitive golfer and has a lot of fun with his friends out on the green grassy fields from here to Kauai........I played with him once over there at the beautiful course just above Kalaheo where, when you play, you can enjoy so much local culture and gaze out across the ocean to the far away west and northwest. The McBride Family created and dedicated the course to all, so that today, even a person like me can enjoy the game and on that special day, I even hit the ball onto the green in one shot. Once......

Which brings me to the point of this small story. A small story. But one with a big message for anyone who loves the game of golf.

I brought a golf ball with me today. After the Seahawks had secured the win, I got the ball and did a little experiment with it.......You see, this was not any ordinary ball. I found it on the beach on Kauai just two weeks ago. It washed up on Papa'a Bay's shore just inches from where a glass ball dropped onto the sand. It looked to have been in the ocean for a long, long, long, long, long time as Harrison Ford might have said had he found it when he was starring on the very spot in Six Days and Seven Nights.........

Scott confirmed this after examing the ball. It is an old golf ball, maybe 40 years at sea.

So, where do you suppose it came from?

My friend Carey Morishige assures me that a flip flop can drift from Hawaii to Marrowstone Island.

Could a golf ball drift from the Port Ludlow Golf Course by Scott's house to Papa'a Bay on the island of Kauai in Hawaii??????

My first test of this was to place the ball in a glass of freshwater.

I should say that I had the great pleasure just yesterday of finally meeting Curtis Ebesmeyer in person. We had talked before and I stood in for him at a lecture in Oregon, one that he was unable to attend. It was a fun night in Salem and he thanked me yesterday for taking his place. That said, Curtis laughed about golfers not believing that golf balls float...............

And so, I took my Papa'a Bay golf ball and dropped it into the glass full of freshwater. It bounced off the bottom of the glass as if trying to float and it more or less danced a bit before settling pretty much on the bottom.

Next test?

I added sea salt to the taste of Scott and I.........the taste we share of a gulf of sea water after maybe not getting the mask just right. Or, in my case, of drinking a bit of Hanalei Bay recently just for the refreshing thought of bringing ocean into my body.........

What do you think happend on our placing the golf ball into a sea water mini ocean???

Sure enough, just as Curtis would predict.

Golf Balls float in sea water even if they sink in fresh.

Next test I will not perform for ethical reasons. No. I will not toss the golf ball into the sea with marks on it to see if it is recovered somewhere on the planet.


But, please be in touch to answer my question. Could the golf ball have drifted out of the Salish Sea, into the Pacific, and found its way to the central point at Papa'a Bay?

Mahalo nui for any thoughts. And, more importantly, please fetch your golf balls if they fall into any body of water, especially those leading to the sea.

Ron Hirschi
Marrow Stone Island, Washington USA

ps   Great Game Today Seahawks! 

10 November 2010



I posed the question earlier. Can a flip flop. Slippa. Can a slight little sandal drift at sea all the way from Hawaii to Marrowstone Island in Washington State.

Going straight to a NOAA source, I find this out and more for you to explore.

Carey Morishige, Outreach Coordinator of the NOAA Marine Debris Program in Honolulu, a person who has helped many of us in recent times of interest in ocean issues, says,

"Yes. It is possible given the current patterns, that a slipper could drift from the Hawaiian Islands to Marrowstone."

Here is a graphic that helps to explain this pattern of ocean water movement at the surface, at least. remember that I picked up a lot of flip flops out on Kauai where 30 foot surge waves were washing the north shore last week, bringing in a lot of the accumulated garbage in the swath of the sea we call a convergence zone. Here on Marrowstone, I picked up a lot more trash tonight in a different form of convergence in which nearshrore drift patterns converge at the north shore of our island, bringing us all kinds of interesting trash from near and far.

Tonight, I picked up or obeyed laws prohibiting touching the usual mix of lighters, binky, straws, shoes, PVC, dead birds, marine mammal parts, and assorted debris......AND found the coolest but single flip flop from Quiksilver! Cool embossed sole just right for ocean art stamping with kids!

Anyway, here is the NOAA map to show you how tons and tons of trash move to our coast from the east:

I also find a fair number of Asian items. Mostly plastic bottles. Out on Kauai and especially at Midway, I find tons of Asian fishing items. If you want some, let me know.

Please also go to the great site NOAA develops and maintains:


Fred and NOAA are much in the same line of work.......only NOAA really needs you to support them in a big way by letting your representatives know how vital they are to the ocean's future. Fred can get by since he does not need anything other than bananas for support!


FRIENDS OF FRED is a global project aimed to help teachers and others make use of the many connections made by PROJECT SOAR.

The long term goal is to circulate several of each of 52 Species that represent major Watershed and Ocean habitats in need of our attention. This practical and important work makes it easier for students and the larger communities within those habitat areas to ACT in some responsible way while learning about the world.

As a Writer, Biologist, and Author, I have spent my entire career working to protect and restore habitats. My specialty as a scientist has been mainly with fish habitats of rivers, streams, and coastal areas. I have a lot of experience dealing with difficult land use decisions and count among my friends some of the most effective "players" in this profession. These people include guys like Jim Lichatowich who wrote the book, SALMON WITHOUT RIVERS........That book stirred up a heck of a lot of help for salmonid waters. I also get to work with gifted teachers like Dr. Sharon Buda and Ray Lowrie; Deb Charna; Claudia Fett, Tracy Poduska, Michelle Kaskovich, and Mary Fox. Together, we have led children out into waters to make sure they experience the water world FIRST HAND............

If we fail in our efforts to take children out into the real world, we will continue to lose more and more healthy habitats. True, there have been great strides with endangered species protection and increased restoration. But as one of my early mentors with Washington Department of Game told a group of us starry eyed grad students at the University of Washington, "There is always going to be a new batch of idiots elected who will undo your good works."

Say no more. These days we stand to lose our oceans simply because of our ignorance in relation to the connections between upper reaches of watersheds and the sea.

In the old days, many people around the planet had land divisions similar to those held under ethically bound rules of use of resources. Hawaiians, for example, divided up the islands so that decisions about logging, taro planting, fishing, and other land uses made sense from mountain top to river valleys and on as well as into the ocean. Fishing was banned when necessary and strict kapu helped those with authority to make sure overharvest did not take place. Sure, there were problems with the system such as wide scale alteration of native plants and birds. But the principal remains important: We need to think of land and waterscapes to manage effectively.

What does this have to do with a bunch of silly stuffed animals at the heart of "Friends of Fred"?

Friends of Fred begin life with me, here on Marrow Stone Island in Washington State. Like Fred the monkey, they start a journey of discovery, learning, and action. Sometimes, they end up helping kids talk story and create wonderful art and writing projects such as BIG BOOKS like those at Wilson School in Wyoming, Fishing Cove Elementary in Rhode Island, and Mokapu Elementary on Oahu.

Currently, a beautifully crafted Northwest Coast Style Frog named Ribit is in the hands of students working with the Columbus Zoo on projects to help endangered amphibians. A Monk Seal just traveled to Ohio to join the cause, helping kids to link the frog project with the distant ocean world of marnie mammals. A tiny but accurately crafted Laysan Albatross, gifted to me by the USFWS at Kilauea on Kauai is now in Edmonds, Washingto with a student from King's School. Cougars continue to circulate as part of a Cougar Fund project begun in the wilds of Oahu of all places to find a mountain lion........

All the Friends of Fred bring smiles first, then thought, then actions. My intent is to help teachers use these little buggers to use playful inquiry into the lives of young hearts and minds.

As my friend and colleague, Tom Mangelsen shows the world, the beauty of nature brings us in to the world of appreciation first........We can all appreciate the majestic sight of a Polar Bear in northern light and can enjoy the seemingly happy face of a Monk Seal just wiggling out of the surf and onto a sandy beach in Hawaii.

At the same time, we know there are extremely difficult decisions to be made if Polar Bears and Monk Seals are to survive. In fact, Monk Seal populations are declining at a rate that projects extinction for the species and hope for Polar Bears is not exactly as promising as the increase in eagle populations or frog numbers in the rapidly developing rural fringes of Columbus, Ohio.

We are connected to Polar Bears, Monk Seals, and Frogs in more ways than we currently understand and so, Friends of Fred joins other attempts to help young minds begin journeys of discovery in hopes kids of today grow more successfully into stewards of planet earth as they all too quickly become a part of the world of competion between species, habitats, and conflicts over oil, water, fish, trees, jobs, and the very future of planet earth.

Friends of Fred might show up in your community soon. Be watching for a kid carrying a stuffed animal, not just to collect some cute toy, but to engage you in decisions about our daily impact on habitats from mountain top to river valleys to the sea........Have fun if you wish to join in the networks created as Friends spread around the world. This is not a top down project.......it simply is what it becomes and it is up to you to grab a seal, turtle, bear, spider, crab, lobster, mountain goat, deer, trout, whale, or other Friend of Fred.

Contact me for a starter kit that includes any of 52 different species (YES there are more than one of each just as there are more than one Fred); a journal with your Friend's first steps into the wild world; any links to organizations, schools, teachers, and other information to help you start a project in a school or community, or simply in your own backyard or beach or stream..........Simple as that.

I will add a couple of photos to share recent activities of some Friends of Fred, but also check the histories of Fred here and at other sites such as Learn to Sea, a not for profit in England or AUSMEPA in Australia.

Ron Hirschi
PO Box 899
Hadlock, Washington 98339

08 November 2010


JUST A SAD REMINDER..........Jeff, Trevor, and I wandered one day to the "Graveyard" on Midway Atoll's Sand Island, aka Pihemanu.........I took this photo of a dead Laysan Albatross. You can see some of the hundred or more bits of plastic and larger pieces the bird ate when its parent fed the near fledgling bird. The adult Albatross had given the baby bird plastic as it regurgitated the "food" from a foraging trip into the young one's mouth and throat. The adult had flown out into the North Pacific to pluck "food" from the ocean surface, now littered with Trillions and Trillions of pieces of plastic, discarded from land based people of planet earth. As you can see, we all contribute to this Ocean Trash. It is not an island of garbage. It is not a patch we can sweep up. It is, well, it is a sea of waste and while many people argue about how much there is and how to clean it up, we have, my friends, passed a point of difficulty and need to clean up our act.

So, I pose the following bit of news and a question, hopefully directed to the proper authorities with NOAA, Municipal Garbage People, National Leaders, and anyone brave enough to take on the petrochemical businesses that float this junk into our arms, then into the sea..............

My Question: 

Just back from Kauai where we picked from the beach three beautiful glass balls.......treasures along with great shells,including a nice gifted granulated cowry from local guy, Leo......Mahalo Leo, big time!.......

I also saw and even picked up a couple of tons of plastic trash and trashtic fantastic stuff like maybe one ton of fishing floats up to two feet in diameter. We wonder, will these plastic balls be the next generations glass treasures? I don't think so, based on seeing how they begin to harden, then scuff, then break apart into microplastics like most other forms of this insidious and increasingly alarming ocean debris.

All this to ASK: Especially maybe, friend Linda on Oahu if you are listening in.......As soon as I got home and slept a bit, I went down to the beach here on Marrow Stone Island in Washington state............My pup, Monsoon was up by 6. Dark. But we headed down to East Beach and by daylight, I started picking up trash along with the stick to throw for Monsoon........she was excited to be back on the beach.......gotta fetch.......gotta dig in da sand.......her best work!

So, anyway, I find a flip flop. I begin to wonder. After having picked up many many many flip flops in the islands the past couple weeks, over on Kauai's windward shore where we found the glass balls.............COULD IT BE POSSIBLE FOR FLIP FLOPS TO DRIFT ALL THE WAY TO MARROWSTONE ISLAND FROM HAWAII?

That's my question to anyone out there with knowledge of oceans. Wind from the east, so those trades might prevent this from happening, but what about currents?????? I know that the albatrosses we see out on Midway come to our shore, so maybe some tricky albatross picked up a slippa and dropped it off, just to confuse me?

The flip flop in question is a lady's maybe size seven in black with decoration of silver beading on strap dealie.......you know, the part going over your foot......it was on the beach right at the strand line where I also found plenty of caps, lighters, bottles, and stuff just right for my next big art movement. To try to find ways of making this plastic found object into sellable products. Functional art and functional building material like they do in that country over the other side of the ocean that sends back our recycled material on the huge ship passing, literally as I type........It says on its side, CHINA, in huge letters and is steaming into Seattle or Tacoma to unload Christmas toys of plastic, shoes of plastic, chairs, hair dryers, and all those things you buy for use of alimited time then toss into the recyled bin only to go to China to be resent over here in the big ship that...........and so on and on and on......

Thanks for any response and be looking for news from Brand newly discovered Cousin of Fred, FredE727 who wears an Aloha Shirt and wears, guess what? FLIP FLOPS. Oh so cool a little monkey he is and he is looking for a school out there wishing for avisit from Fred and his new Friend, A beautiful little Honu crafted by Douglas Toys, the same people who made the original FredX310......who, by the way is visiting Tremont Elementary in Ohio, working with kids on an Amphibian project with Ribit, a Frog from the Pacific northwest.

Cheers,  Ron Hirschi and FredE727......The Aloha Fred!

19 October 2010


I get to work with a lot of people and recent commentary on national marine education networks actually suggest that the military does great harm to the ocean world.........Hmmmmm. My experiences and knowledge of history tell me the Navy and Marines are responsible for protecting the ocean, our coasts, and the well being of our country as well as most of the rest of the planet. Of course, the Coast Guard is very devoted to protecting the shores too, but the Department of the Navy is where I spend time, volunteering as opportunities arise. I am proud of my time spent out on Midway learning about that battle area and of my time volunteering at Mokapu, Marine Corps Base Hawaii............That said, I also get to spend time closer to home, working with some great people in western Washington at local Navy bases.

NOVEMBER 13th, try to get over to the NAVAL UNDERSEA MUSEUM in Keyport Washington! That day, you can meet and greet military experts with incredible stories to tell about submariners rescuing downed bomber pilots toward the end of WWII; take a tour of a fascinating worldclass museum; and meet and greet 20 Pacific Northwest authors including the great chef, Greg Atkinson!

Okay, I'll be there with copies of the hard to find and out of print but not out of mind, SEYA'S SONG. This book is available normally from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe or at used book sources. But, I will bring along copies and they will be available for sale with ALL proceeds going to restore salmon habitats on Marrowstone Island, Washington State.

You can order copies from me and I'll sign them on the 13th and ship for free. In the meantime, check out the museum website, or check them out on Facebook where you can discover more about this, one of my favorite local spots to hang out. Last time I was there, a docent showed me a torpedo that my Grandmother may well have helped construct during WWII when she was employed at Keyport. Gramma Daisy had two sons overseas in the Navy, one of whom was my Dad.........and so, she went to work as "Rosie the Riveter".......well, Daisy the Igniter Maker, and was very proud of her service to her country at a time of war.

I have a replica torpedo she made......or rather, our daughter now has the little silver undersea weapon that was one of the means used to end the war, including out at Midway Atoll, aka Pihemanu........a most incredible place now safe for nesting seabirds because of the US Navy.

See you on the 13th of November at Keyport. See http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/ for more information about the event as well as much more about their fascinating history collections and ongoing lectures, family fun days, and more. Their gift shop is where I recently got my Dad a great Navy Vet hat and they also have cool ocean toys!

Ron Hirschi

14 October 2010


fresh sockeye.......

Scott Davis is planning his trip to sail from Marrowstone Island to collect plastic and other marine trash, headed up the Inside Passage. This effort continues the work initiated by the USFWS, NOAA, and State of Hawaii when they sent Ron and Fred to Pihemanu (aka Midway Atoll) in 2009.

As you know, plastic debris is a deadly ocean contaminant, bringing with it PCBs and other toxins. Many thousands of marine birds and other sea life are also killed directly by consuming plastic drifting on the waves and washing onto ocean shores.

Scott and Ron have already collected a large amount of plastic from Marrowstone beaches and could probably spend the rest of their lives doing just that............but why not expand the effort while educating and connecting with others who care about salmon, halibut, lingcod, herring, smelt, shrimp, Dungeness Crab, King Crab, spot prawns, butter clams, steamers, oysters, and those delicately delicious mussells........Why not help all who enjoy seafood eat healthier ocean dinners!

We ask anyone with an offer to help to be in touch. Help Scott launch his boat, pack a lunch, or meet him on the beach between Marrowstone and Whidbey, Whidbey and Orcas, Orcas and Vancouver, Vancouver and Ketchikan. Do what you can and be in touch for more news as Scott gets his beautiful wooden sailboat rigged for the launch.

In the meantime, check local and state and federal regulations regarding the safety of consuming shellfish, finfish, and other sea life. Mercury level warnings are alarming, but plastic derived contaminants are filling the sea and sea life. And, there are no warnings to you, the consumer or commercial harvester. Let's clean up the sea, together, before it is too late and their are no fresh fish fit to eat.

13 October 2010


Students at Tremont Elementary
in Upper Arlington, Ohio
were treated to Sipp Family Farm and Pond Days!

Taking kids outside leads to discoveries big and small.

Fred Joined students, teachers, parents, and friends of the school
to study water quality, investigate the forest, search for woodland art,
and much more.

Back at school, kids began a year of study, writing, art, and ecological awareness
led by caring teachers, including super Librarian, Claudia Fett!!!

Fred Cheers for kids catching fish, beetles, and TONS OF FROGS!!!

Thanks to the Sipp Family
and the Parent, Teacher, and Student Organization at Tremont
for helping kids learn in the out of doors.

No Child Should be Frogless,
and so, Friends of Fred have sent 

RIBIT to Ohio........stay tuned for tales from Ribit, Fred X310, and
how the kids of Ohio are saving frogs with help from
The Columbus Zoo. 

Scott Davis Cleans Up the Salish Sea

This is to introduce Friend of Fred, Scott Davis. I met him as I often meet young people with passion for the sea, by way of his Mother............Molly is a neighbor and friend who grew up near the likes of Buster Keaton and other famed Hollywood stars. Here on Marrow Stone it is not unusual to meet these gifted people and Molly and I walk together many days of each week. Her Sparky and our Monsoon love one another..............dogs find good people friends?

Scott learned sailing and life long learning from Molly and when he was a kid, Mollly took him and brothers from the Bay area to the Sea of Cortez......I've read her journal and marveled at the photos she took on that year long adventure. Her writing and chronicling the adventure ought to be a movie.

Scott now works on his wooden boat and plans to leave soon to draw attention to the ocean of plastic on our shores.................

Here is a small sample of his admirable and as yet unfunded project:

Scott's solo journey up the inside passage will begin soon. Here is his skiff, loaded with trash and reusable crab buoys, mooring buoys, and lots of holiday cups, straws, pop containers, and other debris found along Ft. Flagler State Park beaches on a recent cleanup with Fred....  You can see Fred all tangled up in some wire and other junk left behind by careless boaters, campers, and day visitors to the park. Scott's plans include stops at Canoe Family and other Friendly Ports from Marrowstone to Alaska.

His sailing abilities are vast and his experiences include service in the US Navy as a submariner quartermaster. So, Scott knows how to navigate troubled waters and his plastic mission is as clear as Fred and Friends. Scott will simply pick up plastic and other trash from the ocean, bring it ashore, and educate as he recycles and repurposes as thousands of others have, thanks to the original mission set by staff and students of Columbus School for Girls and Wyandot Elementary.

Be in touch with Scott through this blog site until Scott chooses another means of communication with the digital world.

Mahalo to Scott and the Davis Family!!! And thanks once again to all who helped Fred and Friends set sail on their many adventures in learning and helping Malama i ke kai i ka aina.

Please also know that Scott's sailboat has been invaded by some monkey........it seems to be wearing a tag oh so familiar. Could it be that sneaky Monkey who recently visited Haiti and Namibia........I don't see him hanging around the office...........where oh where is Fred. And, has anyone seen Mokapu, Eddie, or that bright sided Mahi Mahi last seen on its way for Wyoming???????

Here's Scott Davis picking up day use leavings at Fort Flagler State Park. In the distance you can see the Olympic Mountains. The water you see is Port Townsend Bay. The large log is from old day timber times and the small branches are the remains of more recent logging debris. Google Human Modification of Hood Canal and the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, a report to the Point No Point Treaty Council, to learn why it is not good to remove these logs from beaches. Check out earlier postings here and at other sites to learn more about the dangers of marine debris and how to find ways of recycling.

NOTE TOO:  Jefferson County, thanks to Matt Hall and Skookum Recycling has been leading the way to find successful recycling mills. BUT, Skookum is constantly under attack due to mega waste management corporate efforts to take over small yet effective recyclers like Skookum. Find out more by calling Matt Hall at Skookum in Jefferson County, Washington and call Jefferson County officials to support Skookum and their tireless work to rid the beaches of plastic and other trash.



08 October 2010

FROG SAVERS IN OHIO.............

A photo or two will help you understand how special this was...............but before they appear, here are a few words to consider. Frogs. Frogs. Frogs. Frogs. Frogs.   

We caught five different species at Sipp Farm in the middle of a 70 acre forest tucked within the beautiful farm country of Central Ohio. We were out there with Original Fred X310, a bunch of 4th and 5th Graders and a lot of parents, teachers, and others. All came to have a fun day of science, art, story, water quality, picnic, and mushrooming as well as doing a bit of deer hunting preparation with the greatest of guys, Paul and Scott.

The trip was a revisit to Sipp Pond, a restored wetland filled with fish, water scorpions, diving beetles, dragonflies, tadpoles, and much more. What a healthy water world within the Mad River Watershed and pretty close to the Little Miami, a National Treasure that is a designated Wild and Scenic River and one that Fred visited last year with our friends from the Greater Cinncinatti area including Judy and a whole bunch of Mariemont Kids.

BUT back to the FROGS!!!! Kids at Tremont Elementary have partnered with the Coumbus Zoo to help learn more and educate others about FROGS..............So, it was a great day at Sipp Farm when we found FIVE different species in a world where others are saying frogs are disappearing! What's up? Stay tuned, but for now it appears that maybe, just maybe, all the protective legislation for cleaning up the air and water of our nation is working. The frogs certainly think so, according to one happy Happy Eyed Monkey named FRED..........But then, the frogs might just owe it all to a man named Paul........

Fred actually snuck away from me, Ron, as I left Tremont and Upper Arlington after enjoying ice cream at Graeters...............Fred looked at me over his shoulder and said, "I have a new mission here in Ohio. I'll work with these kids and their teachers and families to make sure Frog Friends of Fred like RIBIT (A Tsimshan from British Columbian Waters) are living a healthy lifestyle.

Apparently, Fred knows some Northwest Coast Indian Artist who sent RIBIT to Ohio to join him and the kids at Tremont. All I know is that RIBIT is a Frog of legend and carries with him or her? a lot of fun stuff about the Pacific Northeastern corner of the ocean world and Pacific Northwestern corner of North American watersheds.

I am guessing photos will be coming soon from Ribit, Fred X310, and other Friends of Fred.

In the meantime, here is a photo of Fred X310 during a summer hiatus on Long Island. Fred helped redecorate Martha Stewart's beach, dumping eighteen tons of recycled plastic chairs onto the upper edges, making sure none would wash to Marrowstone Island during a storm. According to Monkeys, Martha made some deals recently to insure high stock prices for all Chinese merchants dealing in recycled plastic products!! Fred's other inside trader scoops will appear along with all news of plastic frog toys, plastic microscopes, and the incredible number of so-called stainless steel tools being sold in America. Again, according to Monkeys, the Chinese industrial complex is teasing the American buyer into purchases of Iron Ore and Petroleum products made from natural resources from our country. Smart Chinese merchants. But wait. Does that mean we could also manufacture plastic lawn chairs in America? Could we turn Michigan ore into steel right here in the USA???????

Fred has been meeting with high level US officials all summer and into the fall, so stay tuned. He actually thinks he even has the ear of President Obama, but we will see! He certainly cherishes the time he spent with a certain FWS Belle! Bell? Something ringing true in Fred's ears..........

malama i ke kai,    ron hirschi, fredless once again on marrowstone island........

.......fredless but not friendless since a Mountain Goat Freind of Fred is thinking Rhode Island or is that someone calling from Canada?
"Oh Canada!", I heard a man sing this summer from the shores of Hebegen Lake just outside of Yellowstone where I first ran into Yellowstoney the Mountain Goat in a campground downtown in Gardiner Montana when we were just hiking along..........Yellowstoney, like Mokapu and Eddie, are Friends of Fred and searches for her mate......

All 52 Friends of Fred appear destined to save the world, one creature at a time. Do be watching for Fred hitching a ride on a Great Lakes Ore Ship! He does have a lot of friends in the waters of Walleye, Pike, and Pikerel. Yummmmmm. And beaver, otter, mahi mahi, yellowstoney, buffalo, crabbie, and more will arrive, often unannounced to begin a visit with you and your family, students, or office partners. THEY ARE HERE TO STAY and MAY GET IN THE WAY OF BUSINESS AS USUAL if business as usual includes keeping kids indoors. No child should be frogless, without a fishing pole, or with no place to listen to the birds sing. Please do open the doors of your classrooms and learn with nature. Thanks from Marrowstone Island...........

07 October 2010

It's Me, Fred X310.........I'm BACK!

Okay, school is back in session and Fred X310. Yes, the Original Fred of Pihemanu, CSG, FWS, NOAA, Mokapu, Rhode Island, Haiti, Namibia, SouthAfrica, and much more fame and notoriety..........Fred the Happy Eyed Monkey is back.

Sort of.

Actually, Fred is down in Upper Arlington!!!! He is hanging out with kids who care about FROGS. After all, Frogs are one of the most important species on Planet Earth. They help us understand water. WAI. Wealth. Quality of LIFE............

And so, Fred will be talking story to all of us soon. Oh. By the way. Friends of Fred, including RIBIT, a Frog from the Tsimshans up north, MahiMahi from Hawaii, and of course, Yellowstoney the Mountian Goat are all traveling the planet in good ways.............you will be treated to story, photos and much more from one and all by way of Fred, that incredible monkey who was born in Hawaii (kinda like Obama guy?) but who went to school in Dublin, then hitched a ride to Washington with Papa Kupuna Ron............the rest is his and her story..................stay tuned and do check out all things happening with Mokapu, Rhode Island, Wilson School, Breidablik, Tremont, Fishing Cove, Cougar Fund, Pals of the Pacific, and the United States Navy and Marine Corps (YOU Rock)...........Thanks to Commander Robert Rice and General John Broadmeadow and to be sure, Michelle and Eva! You buggers!

SPECIAL THANKS TO CLAUDIA AND BASIL who are the best friends of Fred ever! Oh, and those Mexican Tomato Plants in Arlington............they can feed the world. With a little help from the Sipp Family and Johnsons and Lowries here on Mstone............

Cheers,   Ron and Fred, reunited thanks to Annie Bell and Judy and Jody!!!

03 September 2010


Fred Y958, some may remember, has been in such loving hands for several months. Very long story, much too short...........Fred met Judy Schmidt and Friends down along the Miami River in Bearcat country --- you know, that great school with incredibly wonderful elementary schools leading up to it.......in the town so difficult to spell - Cincinnnnnatttiiiii. How many n, t, i can you place after the C?????

Anyway, Judy kindly took Fred along on her many journeys to help earthquake victims in Haiti and to aid many in Namibia too. While in Africa, Fred was befriended by Cape Fur Seals who climbed onto a boat to greet Mister Friendly Fred! Wow, I think Judy is far more adventurous than any.......well, you have to remember Fred X310's adventures out on Pihemanu and Fred's British and Aussie cousins who have gone for free dives with Maying back to their college classes east of here.........they both were awarded full rides, partly because they are THE BEST SOFTBALL PLAYERS in Chimacum High School history and because their smiles light up the world just like their Mom's.........Fred is trying to catch them so they can sign an official college softball as a way of preserving memory of the Garing Heros!

gotta go find those heroic kiddos!

Ron and Fred, Marrow Stone Island, still summer, 2010.

p.s. The ocean has been very good to the redfish and Dungeness Crab of late, so we are just pulling sockeye from the smoker to take down to Grampa Hirschi, Nichol and Scott, and to Ron's hero, Ray Johnson, a field biologist like no other. Ray once was so blessed to witness the return of right around 1,000,000 humpies (one of our smaller salmon) to the Dose and Dungeness/Graywolf Rivers. In fact, when Ray called Olympia's Fishery office, they did not believe his report and actually forced a change in the real numbers, a change from "on high" that may well have devastated those incredible runs of wild fish.

Ron (me) and his dad fished the Hood Canal run that famous year (1963) and witnessed, first hand, schools of salmon so thick that it was not possible to get herring bait through the school to try to catch any silvers or kings that might also be tagging along with all the humpies (aka Pink Salmon for all who don't fish northeastern Pacific waters).

Matter of fact, Ron had to take his Dad back into Port Gamble one day so Glenn could get to work in the mill at 8 a.m., starting whistle time.........then Ron headed back out to catch more salmon. But first, he had to take the limit his Dad caught that morning up the hill to the freezer or fridge......was a long time ago, but father and son still laugh and enjoy remembering those days in Hood Canal that Ray Johnson chronicled for the historic scientific record and many locals chronicled in tasty and fun memory of a time not necessarily gone. As I said, the ocean seems healthier than ever at the moment........maybe the warm waters are producing more bait for the sockeye, coho, and chinook?????????? This not being a humpy year (in our waters the adults return to the river of birth in odd numbered years) we will see if next year brings back a million fish to spawn up the tributaries of S'Klallam rivers east of the Hoko and north of the Duwamish.  

04 August 2010

to the few who will ever read this

I am a long time reader of Hemingway and others of that time, long ago when fiction was being created for a modern audience. Gertrude Stein is my hero.........

I just reread Big Two Hearted River and realized that Hemingway might have been born with a silver spoon, but he and I had quite similar life experiences.

So, I wrote the Ricky story to honor my childhood, my childhood friend, Ricky, and to purge my soul of thorns long prickling my side.

All you read happenend to me, just as the Nick Adam's stories happened in Hemingway's troubled youth. He and I lost our souls to trout, rivers, and troubled times. I plan to live out my life though. Having just ben in Ketchum, I feel a great sense of loss for his family, friends, and reading and writing public.

Maybe the best thing we can think is that it would have been nice if Hemingway had traded all his weapons for fly rods and spinning gear, he might not have gone out so violently?

If and when Tom Brokaw reads this, I hope Tom remembers when we met in Montana.........back when Tom had the golden opportunity to bring the world back to the best of times within the land and water scape of the last great place. That Kitteridge and  Welch place where writers know heart and soul of white, brown, and red meet on an even playing field............lodge poles erected and salmonflies fluttering in the same even breeze of eternity.

Ron Hirschi      Marrowstone Island, Washington. 2010. Just after a visit to Sacajawea's birthplace in the Salmon River Country of Idaho

Boys and Dogs,,,,,,,,,,,,,Fictionalized Version

Ricky hiked up his jeans. He walked out of the house, looking over his shoulder, as usual, to see if Doris was watching. She was busy clipping ads from the Sun and thinking about the night. Bingo in Bremerton might bring her closer to her dream.

All Ricky wanted was a candybar or some bubblegum. He stuffed the gunnysack into the bike basket. He checked to see if the wood bin was filled, then opened the garage door to look into the freezer compartment. Even though he was only ten, his responsibility for family meals included shooting ducks and deer and catching enough fish for Friday meals. The freezer compartments were completely filled with black bass, venison, and pintails. A couple of out of season geese and mallards completed the list of meals he felt were needed to keep the family until next year.

He slipped the kick stand up and hopped up on the soft, cool seat and headed over the graveyard hill to the store. Ricky's mom could be heard in the soft evening air, sighing and saying, "Where is that stupid kid?"

Bessy was standing behind the counter at the Post Office when Ricky placed the dime, two Jefferson nickels, and a couple of pennies on the copper sheathed surface upon which many postal transactions had taken place since the early 1850s. Dan Evan's grandfather had been the first postal person to work here and Ricky knew all that history because his Grandma Daisy once was courted by Governor Evan's dad. She was a fetching young redhead when she started business college in the Smith Tower in Seattle in 1918. Dan's dad was a student then at the University of Washington. He had his eye on young Daisy, daughter of a Liverpool banker who braved the new world only to be disenfranchised by his father who, in disgust, left his wayward son a comb for his only inheritance.

Ivy House, back in England, had been a showcase and filtering stopover for all who did the Queen's bidding at the time. Young Phil had gone to Port Townsend early in the 1890s and sent his brother an urgent letter that read in part, " Dear Henry, Young and beautiful Irish girls await. Gold. Tall trees. Riches. And Indian girls lavish pots of cockles alive."

Henry was on the next boat.

Daisy was born in 1902 in the up and coming mill town of Port Gamble and the family was well established as a friend of the Indians and somewhat a friend of the Opium delusioned upper class who ran the mill, store, and assorted bars, gambling halls, and even a playhouse or two.

Henry, a proud actor and black face comedian, sang and danced with the best fof them on weekends. He tallied lumber on the mill docks with the Jones boys who loaded the cut timbers onto barges and barks. The Indian boys were strong as hell, he often proclaimed in his neat ledger books.........but at night, beneath towering Douglas firs and broad sweeping branched maples, he and the Toms, Fultons, and Pursers.........people of brown skin and wisdom beyond belief..........he and the elders, he and the youth........He, Henry Cotter and the Indian leaders, would scheme of a day when the Popes, Talbots, and Kellers would leave them all alone to dig clams, enjoy children, and live a peaceful life on the shores of Port Gamble Bay.

The Bay...........tranquil then. Tranquil now?

This was the sort of past Ricky knew and loved. The memory handed to him through story. And when Bessy handed him sheets of stamps, Ricky slipped his coins onto the copper sheathed counter to purchase tiny pieces of history.

One day, Ricky was walking from the Post Office to the store to buy the latest copy of Field and Stream. He was excited to buy the issue because it promised a story about the recent earthquake along the famed Madison River in Montana. Apparently, a mountain slipped down at night, burying people and river, trout and bears. Ricky wanted to know more.

Eventually, the fishing magazines would publish a story about how the Madison was "Better than Ever" and Ricky dreamed nightly of girls handing out fishing flies to hardy boys willing to fish troubled waters.

It would be many years and many miles before Richy made the trek to the earthquake epicenter. When he finally reached the destination, he would be transformed in ways only Nick Adams might appreciate........Lunker Browns greeted him as did nice Yellowstone Cutthroat. His labrador applauded each and every trout, then dove into the brush, only to retrieve a skull or antler from a long dead elk or whitetail so foolish as to overwinter along the banks of a flood and quake prone river.

On his first trip to the Madsion, Ricky unwrapped his sandwich. The fresh fragrance of sweet onion drifted up and away from the waxed paper and much, too much of the avadado clung to the damp edges of the wrap. Ricky bit big and hard into the tomato and cream cheese encrusted lunch, then took a long swig of root beer to quench a thirst born of too long a drive from Missoula.

His three weight sat waiting up against a twisted tangle of barb wire and fence post, willow and sweet grass. A Canada goose flew up on the other side of the river and a mountain bluebird scolded, gently from a nearby grave marker. Elk wandered high above the distant peaks within the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a Prairie Falcom shot past as if to mark its territory prior to the evening caddis hatch.

ricky brreathed in all the memory of family and so called friends, strung his silk line, and tied on a lighter than usual tippet, attached to a stiff chuck of riverfound mono that served as a transitional shooter between silk and clear leader.

ricky preferred the term "l;eader" to tippet and taper just because he grew up far to the west where his first fish were rock cod and salmon, bull cod and lings, so tasty and so tough that he needed braided cuccyhunk to haul them up onto the dock planks near where his Grandpa cut old growth into timbers and where he learned to carve cedar into a herring rake to fetch bait for big kings and bright silver coho and humpies, just right to fill the freezer for his screaming mother, hell bent on making him her provider. Or, as she could only put it, "her so called social security".

When the eighteen inch rainbow slammed his fly that first trip to the Madison, Ricky knew he had died and gone to fish nirvana. It was much like when he caught his first truly big chinook on Grandpa Walt's dock. The twenty pound king flopped around as Ricky kunked it on its head with a two by four. Then, he paraded it around to old Russell Fulton, Harry, and young Russ before displaying the golden sided salmon up in the carriage room where Pop worked ten hours each day, turning big trees into dimensional lumber.

Pop looked into the eye of that big salmon and smiled. Ricky took it home, fileted it, then placed each side into wax paper for his Gramma Daisy. He never shoed it to his mom. She was off to the bingo parlor in Bremerton. His Dad was building another speedboat in the garage.

By supper time, Ricky walked the heavy chunks of fish up past his Uncle Chuck's place and around the corner from Ida and Walt's bungalo. He snuck some peas from Enos's patch and left the fish in a white bucket on the porch just outside his Grandma's screen door.

Ricky then walked the mile back to his house, turned and tossed a tiny rock against Morris Fant's window. Morris opened the slider and slipped onto the roof. Hopping down onto the wet grass, Morris greeted his friend and the two boys went on down to the beach, lit a fire and toasted three marshmallows they snuck from the pantry earlier that day.

Long before their fathers and other millworkers awoke from much needed sleep, Morris and Ricky snuck back into their beds in the new england shacks.  they slept until the mill whistle blew, then got up to do it all over again. 

02 August 2010


Being Fredless on Marrowstone Island has its advantages. The little Monkey makes me work at tasks not so glamorous as simply going to the beach to fish, swim, walk with Monsoon, or look for agates and Marrow Stone Tools. The latter have been showing up regularly now that I don't focus on Plastic Trastic so much.......but more on that cultural resource in another note. But just to say, Ted George of the S'Klallam Tribe and Book group, gave me a good path to follow when he suggested I use the tools I find to teach S'Klallam presence on Marrowstone Island........

I find tools of stone, created by S'Klallam artists and craftsmen for the past 2,400 years. 

I find tools of wood, fallen into the ocean, mainly during the past 150 years. Prior to that time, trees simply fell and when I was a boy with my childhood dog, Bart, there were still old growth trees falling into Hood Canal and the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Almost ALL those big old trees, their trunks, limbs, and branches.......almost all of them are now gone from our shores. 

Big Deal?


Trees along beaches here in the inland waters are like Grandparents to our children. They hug the shore, creating safe habitat for baby salmon, crab, oysters, mussels, and more.......They also buffer the high, sandy bluffs of the east side of Marrowstone --- or, once did ----from winter storms.

I've mapped the entire shoreline of Washington State and meticulously gps'd every inch of the shore of Hood Canal and the eastern Straits to chronicle how humans have modified our shores. When our small team mapped the coast in 1976-80, we found no big trees still standing in our local area and almost no old growth along the entire non-park shoreline of the entire state. None.

People have cleared entire shoreline reaches for mile upon mile. 

Here on Marrowstone, the east shore is so denuded, that the sandy bluffs simply fall into the ocean in chunks the size of city blocks. People still cut remaining tiny trees and shrubs so that garden flowers and weedy scotch broom are the only vegetation on the gentler slopes just above tide water.

So, playing as always, the role of boy with dog, I started to try to save the shoreline.

Monsoon likes to fetch sticks. No tennis balls for her. She chases the stick, digs into the sand around it, then asks me to toss again. 

I obligingly throw the stick on down the beach, but stop to pull logs into the holes she creates. The result?

You can see her above, digging around some of the hundreds of small logs I pull from the wave tossed shore. Little by little, we've started a nice little area of non-erosive shoreline here. Down on Marrowstone Point, we even created a pretty good protective log "soft armoring" around the old Coast Guard Light.

An old boy with a dog, some beaches and logs...........one stick at a time, we try for reasons not quite understood by the locals, to save homes that are ready to fall into the sea. Mainly, though, I just want to create good habitat for salmon babies, sandlance, seabirds, otters, eagles, and kids of the future who might walk this beach and wonder how the sand formed such a nice wide path at the foot of those high bluffs.

I doubt I can save some of the homes that are ready to fall. They will fall. Might be able to keep some people from losing life and property while having some fun with Monsoon.

Stay tuned for more photos. You would not believe where people place their homes. 

Marrow Stone Island, Washington State. Winter-Midsummer 2010    

The odds say, "This House will fall onto the beach this winter. Local Realtors
are actually selling adjacent property to unwitting buyers.........integrity? Come On down, buy
some "waterfront" property and literally live on the beach next summer!

Just have to say, I have been trying to protect this and the other homes along this shoreline. I even went so far as to offer free time to the landowners losing their land, future, and more to this foolish use of planet earth and mother mother ocean.........As Jerry Jeff sings, "You can trust the might ocean. You can trust the moon to move her. You can trust the sun to shine upon the land."........but, I disagree with Jerry Jeff Walker in his lines about "Trusting, or leaving the rest to the quiet faith of man...............Man, here on Marrow Stone Island seems to have jetted off island to some mall in Missoula, or simply gave up and moved his or her fence and home back from the precipice.

Bottom Line?

This home will fall into the Admiralty Inlet waters soon. When? Simply soon.............I tried to save Mary's home. I tried to get East Marrowstone residents to put more big wood along the beach. When will they ever learn? When will anyone ever learn...........

29 July 2010


Dear Fred,

It's me, Yellowstoney the Mountain Goat along with your old friend Beav and Wally. What a funny little moose he is for sure!

Down below there, hanging in that net, is a straggler. A baby black bear who doesn't even know her own name. We met up with her in a campground in downtown Salmon, Idaho. She was just bumming around. Backpack to backpack, we started in to talking.......next thing we know, she was camping with us friends.

We owe it to the tiny bear to find her a home. Maybe in Richmond, Virginia, Colorado, or up Alberta way?

She says she is a salmon eater but I don't know for sure. Us Mountain Goats stay far from the river, but enjoy its sounds. We like the view to all the stars, high above the rest. Up where we can hide from wolves. 

Beav wanted to let you know how frightened he is of those pesty wolves. Last night we camped up there in those hills you can see behind us ----  inside Yellowstone National Park. That big arch is a kind of memorial to when a president signed paper that kicked out our Shoshone Friends and made it open to other Americans by horse, then train, plane and automobile. Whew.......we just about got run down by a car just this morning. An antelope hopped in front of buddy Ron's camera just as we were hopping into the back of his car. 

Buddy Monsoon opened the door for us when Ron wasn't looking and we all got in, hiding our little black bear buddy from the Rangers and strangers. Next thing we knew, we were fly fishing for trout, back on the big, beautiful Salmon River. We miss Sacajawea's family, friends from way back when. She used to swim faster than otter, way faster than Beav's family to be sure. My Grampa Rocky used to tell me stories of how she (Sacajawea) was kidnapped and taken far far away to the Dakotas I guess. Then some guys hoping to find gold and fame came out west guided by young Sacajawea and her boy, Pomp. Good people. They met up with their family at Beav's favorite spot on any map. It's a big rock that looks just like Beav! They even named a river, a county and a bunch of other stuff after the rock, even though Beav says his family didn't make out too well in the deal. Kind of like all your monkey family biz, eh?

Anyway, old friend, the four of us have stowed away in Ron's backpack. Just like you, I hear....didn't you come all the way from Ohio originally? According to Monsoon you've been traveling the globe. Been to Pihemanu again. This time with that great Brit, Maya! What a cool story she tells! Going to help planet earth through her Learn To Sea. And Haiti? New York islands too with best friend Annie Bell of the Fish and Wildlife! Wow!

I guess we might be careful for Fish and Wildlife people. Seems crossing state lines is something to think about. But we're small for our kind, large in heart, and strong of mind. 

Me, Stoney, and your other mountain friends aim to teach headwaters to kids all this next year with a little help from Sue Warburton, Michelle Kaskovich, Mary Fox, Alan in Africa, and the kids of Capetown too.

We aim to connect with Mokapu the Whale and Eddie and Mokapu the Cougar (well maybe not Eddie....he seems to look hungry when he glances my way. Beav's a little scared of cougars too).......

You need to keep Ron busy fishing so we can all do the more important business of protection of our homelands! There is still a crazy war or two going on, we hear, so the people are busy with that and the money economy. But our natural economy is in tough shape, though greener than usual with the change in climate up here in the high country. 

Be thinking of all of us Mountain plants and animals. Without healthy watersheds in the Rockies, the Yellowstone River, Snake, Columbia, Missouri, Green, Colorado, Salmon, and all others would dry up to dust. Protect us and you protect the ocean where you like to go free dive with your buddy Maya....

Hope to see you soon. 

Your Greater Yellowstone Buddies,

Yellowstoney the Mountain Goat
Wally Moose
Beav the Beav
Little Lost Bear

Gardiner, Montana. July 2010

Note to all who teach and learn:

Fred and Friends are available in many ways. Follow their next adventures to Rhode Island, South Africa, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oahu, Kauai, and beyond. Be in touch for a personal visit from one or all Fred's Friends.

Fred and Friends
P.O. Box 899
Hadlock, Washington 98339

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.