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.

30 March 2010


It's me, Fred. Oh, so inspired by Rhode Island Scholars!
Four art and ecology students working with Buddy Ron
invented a new art form they call

Back home on tiny Marrowstone Island,
here is the first ever display of TRASTIC WHALE 1.
She is a Humpback made with trastic.
The secret formula may soon be revealed
after consultations with students at Fishing Cove Elementary.

Our Friends of Fred at Brown University may help too!
Here is Trastic 1, aka Mokapu the Whale,
hanging out at the beach with Brown Bear,
Brown University Mascot and Friend of Fred.

The beauty of this moment is that Brown, Mokapu, and me, Fred
simply stumbled on this ancient site in the sands of Marrowstone.
In the same way, four brilliant third grade art and ecology students
played together at learning to create
a most wonderful
Trastic Whale Sculpture.

Thanks to Dr. Mary Sheridan, The Muizenberg Whale Tail Project,
and especially, students and parents and staff of
Fishing Cove Elementary and Tussing Elementary,
of Rhode Island and Ohio.
Thanks as well to the great
Marine Science Students of Fire Island!!!!
And, of course, Thank You Seattle for
delivering our much needed plastic trash art supplies.
Good grief, if Seattle starts a better recycling effort,
we'll run out of much needed materials....hmmmmm....

24 March 2010


Here we are at Fishing Cove School with Fred.  We are studying our salt marsh and Narragansett Bay.  We are sharing our knowledge and making a big book with Fred.  We will be sending our little books to 

Mokapu and Kainalu Schools in Hawaii along with Luke's cougar.
Aloha Nui Loa!
Mrs. Warburton's 2nd Grade in North Kingstown, RI.

17 March 2010


Breidablik Artists, Scientists, and Gardeners

It's me Fred, just back from visiting kids at Breidablik School. What inspiring kids and teachers!!! Thank You Breidablik.

They are making a rain garden and many other projects and when I came with Buddy Ron to share stories of Papahanaumokuakea and all the plastic, they were very curious and sad too.

But guess what!!! You might have seen My Masks made of beach trash??? Or Susan Scott's beautiful mask of beach findings? Well, Buddy Ron handed one student a tiny tiny mask made from a BOTTLE CAP and before long everyone was buzzing about what they will do.......having fun making art while teaching ocean and learning about ways of reducing plastic in the sea!

So, I decided to talk Ron into leaving the masks and BIG Plastic mesh bag with them FOR STEP ONE, COLLECTING BOTTLE CAPS AT BREIDABLIK to make art, maybe a great big WHALE SCULPTURE MADE FROM BOTTLE CAPS.

If you wonder where the original idea for making whale sculptures from bottle caps came from, visit the inspiring story taking place at Muizenberg Junior School in Capetown, South Africa. Kids there are creating a sculpture of a Southern Right Whale out of Bottle Caps...........all inspired by the students of Dr. Mary Sheridan of Sycamore Creek Elementary (now) and formerly of Tussing Elementary in Pickerington, Ohio. Visit www.awhaleofaheritageroute.co.za/whaletailproject_muizenberg.htm to see more.

You can be a part of this wonderful project by sending one or millions of bottle caps, as many as you wish to:

Muizenberg Junior School Whaletail Project
56 Main Road
Muizenberg, Cape Town 7945
South Africa

Or, you can do as the kids at Breidablik (and, this just in from Papahanaumokuakea Friend of Fred, Jeff Manker in California who joined the Whaletail Project) and jump right in to plan a sculpture of your own. Start collecting bottle caps to keep them out of the sea and into some creative projects. Open eyes, hearts and minds with the power of art!

Mahalo Jeff, Mrs. Fox, Alan in SA, and, of course, Mary Sheridan and kiddos at Sycamore Creek. Thanks as well to Marty, one of the original Friends of Fred, right here in the Pacific Northwest. His dazzling salmon sculpture is recycled broken mirrors, created with a little help from many friends. Marty is helping to design a giant Bottle Cap Beaver to call attention to the incredibly important part beavers play in restoring and maintaining watershed health.

13 March 2010


                                                Laysan Albatross Illustration by Tammy Yee

Tammy and I are here to let you in on a little secret and to announce a Name the Albatross Contest.

We are writing a book about Wisdom, oldest known Laysan Albatross, and we are searching for a name for her mate, also a quite real and healthy bird.

To mix up the beauty of the real world with the fun of Tammy's fanciful imagery, we decided to create a Friends of Fred project just for all of you who care about the fate of our oceans. 

The real Wisdom is currently soaring hundreds of miles each week in search of food for her chick. So is her mate, as they tag team in an act of parenting seldom matched in the animal kingdom. Like other albatrosses, they fly the North Pacific in search of flying fish eggs and squid, then return to feed the little one............But wait!

Word is out that a male albatross has just begun searching for his dream mate he first saw for only a moment out in the north Pacific. She was wearing a red leg band, number Z333. On losing sight of this elegant bird, our nameless (until you decide what that name should be) male flew to tiny Sand Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Looking over the shoulder of a USFWS biologist, he discovered Z333 was born on Pihemanu (aka Sand Island within Midway Atoll). 

Her name is Wisdom. This we know. What would be the perfect name for her mate? Here is where we need your help. Wisdom and Tiger? Wisdom and ?

For all those of you enjoying visits from Fred and Friends, be looking for this dazzling Male albatross as he circles the planet in search of Wisdom. Like all Friends of Fred --- already, many Freds are traveling the planet along with Moli the Wandering Albatross, a tiny Redfooted Booby that Fred first met in a little cafe run by the Friends of Midway, and a soft yet strong Cougar who borrowed Fred's new surfboard to see the world after leaving the Rockies enroute to Oahu and Mokapu Elementary School..........

Meanwhile, Wisdom has already begun a journey in search of her own, Locking her wings in a soaring flight and feeling a strong sense of attachment to the island of her birth. Like a salmon swimming to its spawning stream, she suddenly turns and wings her way in the direction of Pihemanu. Wisdom is flying to the East while (insert your name choice here) is flying to the west...................

Will Wisdom ever meet up with him?
Will you be the one to host both Wisdom and her new mate as actual Friends of Fred Laysan Albatrosses make stops at schools, worldwide?
Will you win the incredible box of ocean prizes if your name for Wisdom's mate is chosen in secret balloting?

Stay tuned and Send your choice of name for Wisdom's mate to:

Friends of Fred
c/o Pals of the Pacific
PO Box 899
Hadlock, Washington 98339
or email
and place WISDOM in the subject line.

09 March 2010


Susan Scott is an artist and writer who lives on Oahu.
She writes a weekly column on Marine Conservation Issues
for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
I've enjoyed her articles but never knew about her beautiful art
until recently.
The base of many of her masks are palm fronds, 
a common piece of natural debris found all over the islands.
Subtle and maybe haunting beauty is added
when Susan attaches plastic objects that also drift
onto Hawaiian shores.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, Beaver sticks also wash ashore
and I pick up the fresh ones and have started willows
from Beaver cuttings that washed down a distant river
to settle on Marrowstone Point.
Now, my challenge, inspired by Susan
is to make a mask with a beaver wood base.

Thank you Susan Scott for all you do to inform us
with your writings and with your art.

07 March 2010


It's me, Fred.
Buddy Ron and I made art today in the backyard.
When I've been away, Ron picks up so much plastic
that looks interesting.........toy hand grenades, plastic golf club handles,
a pink toy shrimp shaped like a mouth!

So, we made masks.
Check Museum of Hawaiian and Ocean Life
for more about the masks.

We hope you might send us photos of your masks
made from beach cleanup art supplies
and other recycled stuff.

Oh. You might wonder. That big black mesh bag washed up
on Marrowstone Island. Ron keeps his bottle caps inside the
bag and hooks the masks on the outside.

Thanks to WSU Beach Watchers for inspiring us to make this art!!!

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.