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.

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.  

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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.