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.

31 January 2010


The City of Seattle has chosen not to recycle bottle caps less than 3" in diameter.
This, despite the availability of a wholesale plastic recycler at the Port of Tacoma that accepts these major components of ocean plastic. An estimated 4,850 pounds of bottle caps arrive on Midway Atoll (Pihemanu)
within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument each year. They kill hundreds of albatross and other seabirds each year when the caps are mistaken for squid and other natural foods.

When I learned that our county, Jefferson, contracts with JMK Wholesale Recyclers in Tacoma,
I started contacting other area recycling centers and discovered that few US communities recycle caps.
There is a misconception that plastic mills won't enter them into the recycle stream. As a consequence, many of the caps wash into the sea. 

Bottle caps are a major component of marine debris I pick up twice daily on Marrowstone Island.

To test the hypothesis that small bottle caps (those under 3 inches) make up a greater percentage of marine debris than caps 3 inches or larger, I collected all caps recovered from the north end of
Marrowstone Island during January 2010. I pick up all plastic and styrofoam, mainly in the vicinity of 
Marrowstone Point, a convergence zone where drift cells from the south and northwest come together to form a prominent spit that accumulates natural woody debris as well as a wide variety of our throw aways and some fishing and aquaculture debris. I know from drift card recoveries, that currents bring debris to the island from Seattle and other points to the south as well as from Port Angeles and Vancouver Island. The majority of debris settles on Marrowstone's eastern shores just after south winds wash debris onto the accretion beach that terminates at Marrowstone Point. 

Historically, this point received only sand and logs, natural materials that have formed the graceful spit at the north end of the island. Some debris accumulates from north wind driven wave wash, but the majority comes from the south where high human populations contribute fewer logs due to shoreline clearing and tons of garbage, some of which can be recovered when it settles on the beach. Far more simply moves offshore and adds to the estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean on earth (U.N. Study you can find in links at this site).   


The photo above includes some of the bottle caps recovered in recent beach cleanups. 

I picked up 111 bottle caps less than three inches in diameter during January 2010, the majority of which are from water or soda bottles.

I picked up one cap three inches in diameter and no caps greater than three inches in diameter.

In addition to caps, I recycled or landfilled more than two pickup loads of styrofoam, Tevas, flip flops, toys, crab buoys, boat mooring buoys, and other large non-recyclable debris. Small recyclable debris that I track for many purposes included 148 shotgun shells and shotgun shell wadding/shot cups; 38 straws; 21 firework rocket tops; 11 lighters; and 4 pens.


Based on January beach cleanups at Marrowstone Island, it appears that recycling matters a great deal. Small bottle caps contribute greatly to the vast amount of plastic in the ocean. Small caps accounted for nearly 100% of the plastic I recovered on Marrowstone beaches in Janauary 2010. Only one cap of a recyclable size was recovered in January, suggesting that people do place these in recycle bins in Seattle and other locations that contribute to Marrowstone and vicinity marine debris. 

I have talked with many people about their own community recycling and have discovered few locations with small bottle cap programs. Sadly, most if not all of the main Hawaiian Islands do not recycle bottle caps. Signs at island recycle centers clearly indicate that bottles can only be recycled when caps are removed. 

Based on my findings in January, I went back to the sorted plastics reported for December 2009 for Marrowstone Island. During that time period, I collected 193 bottle caps, all of which were less than 3 inches in diameter. This brings the two month total of small caps on island beaches to 304. Even if Marrowstone receives more than its share of Seattle area trash, this is an amount that suggests Puget Sound communities contribute many millions of small caps to the world wide ocean plastic problem. 304 bottle caps on about a mile of beach. I will attempt some math to estimate total Washington State contribution to world ocean plastic pollution.


Contact your local recycler and urge them to learn more about the threat to ocean life from bottle caps. Urge them to contract with wholesalers who accept caps, no matter their size. Even if your recycler can not enter the caps into the profitable plastic stream, they might accept the caps to keep them out of the ocean. You can only try, keeping in mind the more than one million seabirds dying each year due to plastic debris, much of which is in the form of small caps not accepted in cities like Seattle.   

Malama i ke kai

Ron Hirschi
Project SOAR

30 January 2010


Yippeee Oregon Kids!
Me and Buddy Ron go Oregon where Ron Talk Talk....
Me, Fred, Listen.
Ron say good things about ocean and plastic and
Papahanaumokuakea and Albatross.
Show pictures of X310.......sand with little pieces plastic too.

Then, nice lady tell of how she uses wooden coat hangers!
Great Salem, Oregon kids take microphone and talk story.....

They raise funds for buying REUSABLE water bottles
for school project.

If Fred shares address of school,
You can contribute to their fund!
They buy stainless steel water bottles,
maybe for Governor of Oregon too?


Thank you
Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center
for hosting me, Fred and buddy Ron! 

27 January 2010


Me, Fred, surfed on home to Marrowstone to see Ruffles.
You know, all animal like us. Individuals.
Orca individuals get names from good people studying whales.
Ruffles son of Granny we think. Granny almost 100!
Ruffles, he same age as buddy Ron! Old Guy.

Ron say maybe Teachers want to look good and close at this card!
How about if kids made cards like this for Polar Bears,
Albatross, Right Whales in Africa, Right Whales in America,
Humpbacks, Monk Seals, Common Seals in England (not so common),

A deck of cards of Ocean Endangered Animals!
Nice picture on front.
Info on back, like maybe map too, where they live,
where they used to live, where they will live when kids help them!

Friends of Fred Ocean Cards.
Be fun. Be good for animals!

Got this idea when watching water this morning.
Lots of seals. No sign of Ruffles, but friends in San Juan Islands hear him
on hydrophones. Think maybe Ruffles in trouble or looking for family?

Be looking for beautiful African Stamps
from Fred's new friends in South Africa.
Not to believe -- they gonna make BIG WHALE TAIL
like Tussing Whale in Pickerington!

Be talking and sharing England stories too,
but keep people and all life of Haiti in Heart.

Fred. Marrowstone Island. Soon in Africa.

Ruffles Identification Card originally published by
NOAA and the Seattle Aquarium.

14 January 2010


It's me, Fred, with a special message for kids of Haiti.
I talk friend Judy and we still plan come to Haiti in March
We will see.

For now.
All kids of world can help Haiti, especially kids and forests, and water
all life of Haiti need WATER!

Found special lady and group:

Visit and learn how they been helping long long time
and will help long time to replant Haiti for future.
Like Colin Powell, wise man, say yesterday,
We have to help Haiti be healthy, not like it was before
with so many poor people in need.

Haiti before earthquake not healthy for many reason,
like how forest almost gone.
When forest gone, animals go too
water not flow clean, clear, and plentiful from rivers.
forest gone, wash soil into ocean to harm corals and fish.
Please help Haiti by helping good causes of choice,
but take look at good work of:
and see how they help kids help their own country!

Me, Fred, will go visit schools there to bring smile of Fred
Maybe you help too!
Just push donate button at http://www.konpay.org/
and collect penny for change down there too!

06 January 2010


G'Day, It's me Fred and good buddy Cooper!
Cooper help me out here in Mooloolabah, Oz
(that's monkeyhip for Australia!)

Cooper so nice. He show me all about how plastic get into ocean
at Underwater World
at (gotta say again) Mooloolabah!

Display very good. Show how albatross friends see plastic
floating in sea.......look like food to big beautiful birds. Turtles too.

Thanks Cooper! You the man!

Now, all us Oz kids can find way of keeping
plastic out of ocean for sure.
Go Plastic Free Fridays!

This mean of course,
Go Plastic Free Friday in Oz
that mean, everybody in America go Plastic Free Thursday!
Oz day ahead US time! Geography lesson from Fred.....

Be the first to find Mooloolabah on map and win.
What win? Smile from Fred!

03 January 2010


Yip! It's me, Fred in England!
BIG Island to be sure
and people speak different England talk.
Gotta learn this English. Sound nice.
Already at work in new ocean. Atlantic!!!

Here I am with friend Maya from Learn to Sea
picking up plastic. Hung up on it too.
This place is Avon Estuary by town of Aveton Gifford, Devon.
Down in Southwest England.
Estuary here look just like estuary by home
up on Dungeness River by Jamestown, River of friends,
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.
Just like Dungeness at home, Avon is
It is home of Atlantic Salmon!!!
Like Dungeness Chinook buddy Ron helps out,
Atlantic Salmon here.....very very rare. In Danger. Habitat hurt.
Maybe need Salmon Team like buddy Nick start back home???
Get kids. Net. Find Friends with willow to plant.......help fish.

River and Estuary already have wonderful friends!!!
Here I am with Aune Conservation Association on New Years
cleaning up estuary. On their holiday! Good People.
Wonder if plastic here come from America?
You know! We find can with Chinese writing!!!
Come all way from China?

Talked story about plastic and wonder too -
How come cans hooked into plastic in grocery store?
Gotta work on get rid of that sixpack holder deal for sure!
Gotta work on English.......Have a good day!
Find out about nearby Avon River and good people at:


It is the third day of a new year and six months since the beginning of my work with plastic along beaches of the world. Acting locally, I've been picking up plastic along the northern shores of Marrowstone Island, Washington State, for about ten years but far more seriously for the past six months.

The two photos are samples of the past month's collection of plastic that I keep to show others. They are mostly pieces of plastic that are a size an albatross or other seabird might swallow along with some "interesting" objects such as the toy handgrenade and green "Speak no Evil Monkey".

If you look closely in the bottom photo you will see some sinister pieces. The white or clear pieces of plastic with a round bottom and flared sections are wadding from shotgun shells. When I was a kid hunting ducks, the shells were made of paper and brass with wadding of paper. Aside from shot and powder, today's shells are almost entirely plastic. The flared wadding appears to be about as deadly a seabird item as can be found in the ocean since it is designed to travel in only one direction - out the barrel, or, if you are a baby albatross, down the throat. Once inside the bird, those flared sides of the wadding will push out and prevent anything from dislodging, likely causing many deaths we do not yet know about. Time will tell if this plastic finds its way in large numbers out and into major seabird feeding areas. But, look at the following to see just how prevalent it is in the marine debris of Marrowstone Island.

The following are numbers of items within categories of plastic with ten or more occurences (individual caps, etc) during December of  2009. This listing does not include the many large buckets full of plastic and styrofoam taken to the recycling center. It is only a reflection of "smaller" plastic pieces or whole, identifiable objects:

FIREWORKS PARTS (Mostly rocket tips)     59
STRAWS     28
TOYS     16

In addition to the above, I picked up well over a dozen flip flops, 10 aquaculture discs (Penn Cove Recyclable Mussel Discs), hundreds of yards of monofilament, about one hundred plastic bottles, a pickup load or two of styrofoam, crab buoys, rope and netting, woven bags, and many broken pieces of buckets and flower pots.

Marrowstone Island is uniquely situated in the Salish Sea (Washington inland waters), receiving debris in winter from the high population centers near Seattle during south winds. We also receive debris from the West (Port Angeles and Victoria during strong winds out of the west. Based on drift cards I've found on the beach, some debris also works its way from the north along Vancouver Island's inner shores. The largest accumulations of debris occur on Marrowstone's northeast shore near Marrowstone Point, a convergence zone where drift cells bring sediment and debris from the south and west at "The Point". Orcas, minkes, river otters, sea lions, and harbor seals are often seen close to shore and until fairly recently, a kelp forest formed along the shoreline. Rhinoceros auklets, red-breasted mergansers, common loons, surf scoters, rednecked grebes, horned grebes, and murres are common but a decline in marine birds has been observed with puffins virtually gone after having been common just ten years ago. Western grebes have also been mostly absent.  

If anyone has information on seabird or marine mammal ingestion of shotgun shell wadding, please be in touch. If you have any contact with Ducks Unlimited or others who might influence an end to plastic shotgun shells be in touch too. Duck hunting is, by nature, a water sport and millions of rounds are fired into the sky with the wadding dropping out of reach of even the most thoughtful hunter. It is easy to pick up spent shells, but my findings suggest about one third of the shells fired are picked up (based on shell to wadding ratio).

Happy New Year and Please go
in Memory of X310.                                         

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.