SOAR has a serious side in its missions to help kids find ways of helping the ocean and watersheds throughout the world. I started on having seen hundreds of albatrosses killed by plastic debris at Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). I was inspired by the questions of young people in Ohio and by USFWS biologists working hard to protect endangered species and damaged habitats.

SOAR has a very fun and tough to define side.....thanks to FRED AND FRIENDS, Project SOAR helps with watershed and ocean workshops throughout the world, and generally makes people smile while they learn some tough stuff about how we treat our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and the one ocean on planet earth..........


SOAR introduces young people to ways they can make a difference in their local community and the wider world.

Take advantage by:

1) Invite a SOAR learning kit or bring Ron Hirschi to your school as a guest author or speaker for your organization. Ron has many years experience as an author and as a biologist. SOAR adds another dimension to his list of hands on projects he shares in writing, art, and ecology workshops.

Many schools invite Ron for his work as author of more than 50 nonfiction books, including many with ocean themes. Others bring him to school as a scientist or artist, but the best fit is always when schools use Ron to help them integrate curriculum.

Tom Bates, Principal at Tremont Elementary in Ohio recently said in an interview following Ron's visit, "What stood out to me was how Ron was able to gear his activities and discussion and information so it was meaningful to the students, whether they were in kindergarten or fifth grade."

Be in touch at whalemail@waypoint.com for visit information.

2) SOAR now has a new kit circling the globe along with a Laysan Albatross "Friend of Fred". This duo is packaged with a box full of ideas, activities, information about Papahanaumokuakea, ocean debris, and other materials aimed at sparking new projects related to the sea. Also included is a journal chronicling Fred's adventures, all of which began when kids at Columbus School for Girls (CSG) learned how they could take action to help the ocean.

Currently, this treasured package is in the hands of The Bush School in Seattle.

NOTE: You might also be lucky to receive one of the earlier packages with a FRED and Friend, already traveling. To date, Fred has visited Australia, Switzerland, Israel, England, The Dominican Republic, and many corners of the United States.

28 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.

1 comment:

mweye said...

Thanks for the pictures & comments on T12. We ran into him this week when we were on Kauai, on Waipouli Beach. He looks to be doing great, he slept well on the beach, that's for sure.

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.