Monday, December 17, 2012

Cleaning Vermont's Waterways: Hard working crews and recovering from Hurricane Irene

Rozalia Project put 41 people back to work and cleaned over 500,000 pieces of trash from along Lake Champlain and Vermont’s rivers as part of Irene recovery and partnership with the VT Dept. of Labor

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean’s partnership with Vermont's Department of Labor,  employed 41 long term unemployed or hurricane affected people, during March through November 2012. Rozalia Project’s crews removed trash and hurricane debris from waterways throughout Vermont. Trash in our waterways, has multiple dangers from ingestion, entanglement to leaching toxic chemicals into Vermont's marine environment.

Here are our figures:
  • 310.68 miles of Vermont's waterways cleaned
  • 503,317 pieces of trash removed
  • 88.5 tons of trash removed
  • 41 employees put back to work
  • 207 volunteers helped clean up 
  • 488 clean up locations
  • 161 exfoliant beads and resin pellets were found in one 6” by 6” sample at North Beach, Burlington
Locations Cleaned:
  • Burlington crews cleaned the shores of Lake Champlain and the Winooski River
  • Waterbury crews cleaned the Winooski and Dog Rivers
  • Middlebury crews cleaned the Neshobe, Tweed and White Rivers, and southern Lake Champlain
  • Randolph and Hartford crews cleaned along the branches and main-stems of the White River in West Braintree, Braintree, Randolph, Royalton, Hancock, Granville, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Bethel, West Hartford, and Hartford.
Vermont's Polluting Dirty Dozen: Thousands of the following items were removed by Rozalia Project’s cleanup crews who recorded every piece of trash recovered.

Food wrappers
Cigarette butts
Exfoliant beads
Building insulation foam
Beverage bottles
Beverage cans
Plastic bags
Bottle caps
Shotgun shells

Conclusions and Recommendations for a Clean Vermont:

Rozalia Project believes that we can clean Vermont's waterways and keep them clean for future generations to enjoy. We believe that a combination of  physical cleaning and modified practice will achieve Clean Water in Vermont.

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean would like to see Vermont implement or grow the following programs.
  1. Greater number of paired trash and recycling bins in public spaces along Vermont's waterways
  2. Beverage bottle/can redemption program
  3. Encourage biodegradable forms of exfoliant beads in cosmetics, face and body washes
  4. Physical screening to stop exfoliant beads entering our waterways
  5. Increased fines for dumping of trash
  6. Education program at elementary school level, to the dangers of trash and how to dispose of trash and recycle responsibly
  7. Tire recycling program
  8. Single stream recycling
  9. Hunter education
This program was made possible thanks to partnership with the VT Dept. of Labor and support from the Vermont Community Foundation, Waterwheel Foundation, Ben and Jerry’s Community Actions Teams, Lake Champlain Basin Program, Pomerleau Real Estate and dozens of nonprofit organizations, towns and individuals working very hard to make VT a better place than before the Hurricane.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scientists, researchers and ocean advocates join us for 2013 expeditions!

Hello all,

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean would like to invite scientists, researchers and ocean advocates on the subjects of marine debris, ocean pollution and climate change to join us for offshore expeditions in the North Atlantic May-July, 2013.

Rozalia Project conducts its  science expedition's from the 60' sailing research vessel American PromiseAmerican Promise is crewed by licensed mariners, Rozalia Project staff and interns, she is capable of crossing oceans, with a maximum crew of 9 people.

Rozalia Project will be continuing its own research into marine debris and benthic habitat destruction during these 3-7 day offshore expeditions. The expeditions will be followed by over 5,000 children enrolled in marine based summer programs who will interact with the expedition and its work on a daily basis through web-based and satellite communication.

Rozalia Project is making 1-2 spaces available on each expedition for a guest scientist. Guest scientists will complete their own research alongside Rozalia Project's ongoing research and be a part of the daily interaction with our web based followers. American Promise is equipped with 2 ROV's capable down to 1000ft, side scan sonar, imaging sonar, 2 neuston nets, digital microscope.

There will be multiple, one week-long expeditions that will visit areas of the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Gulf Stream and other areas of the North Atlantic. Each guest scientist will be responsible for transportation of themselves and equipment to and from the departure location. We ask for $150/week food/supplies stipend, otherwise the spot is without charge.

Rozalia Project's selection committee will assess each application for an invitation to join Rozalia Project onboard American Promise in summer 2013.

This guest scientist program is designed to share resources, give scientists extremely low cost opportunities to conduct research, access to underwater technology and expertise, and give Rozalia Project interns exposure to high level research scientists and their methods while we all work toward a clean and healthy ocean.

For more information about Rozalia Project's guest scientist program for the summer of 2013, please email or call me. Contact details below.

We look forward to furthering ocean health with you.

For a clean ocean,


Rachael Z. Miller
Co-Founder/Executive Director
Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean
Mobile: 802-578-6120
Winter office: 802-767-3784

Photo Gallery on Pinterest:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rozalia Project visits the windy city and gets national press!

Rozalia Project headed out to Chicago for 5 days of debris clean up, outreach, and research from October 9-14.  We began our trip working with 20 colloquium students from the Lindblom Math and Science Academy.  These eager and excited students visit the Judd Goldman Sailing Center, part of the Chicago Parks District, on Burnham Harbor, Lake Michigan each week to learn everything from how to sail, to environmental issue that affect their lake to soon, building their own Sea Perch ROVs! Rachael and I joined them our first full day in Chicago to pick up marine debris, introduce them to our state-of-the-art VideoRay ROV and run some of our STEM activities.

The first piece of debris we removed from the lake was a chair, lifted from the lake floor by the ROV and pulled onto the dock with our own hands to shrieks as mud, cold water, and zebra mussels dripped from this eerie piece of trash.  We continued trash hunting, removing cups, fishing lures, tires, and beach towels, but one of the coolest discoveries was when a crayfish crawled out from inside a tire that we removed.  While the students yelped, I lifted the small creature up to allow everyone to examine the important aquatic animal that had made its home out of marine debris. 

Following our underwater trash hunt, the students removed 731 pieces of debris from off the land and after a wind shift, the students bravely laid on their bellies on the dock unable to stop themselves from picking up over 40 pieces of debris floating on the surface of the water using their hands.  We had so much fun working with these students and look forward to hearing about their continued efforts to pick up marine debris and as they make their own ROVs!

Later that afternoon we worked with 10 more students at the Judd Goldman Sailing Center from the Afterschool Matters program wrapping up the day with a very intact and useable fishing pole recovery.  The next day we journeyed to Philip Rogers Elementary School where we worked with over 200 students and heard some great, intriguing questions from the students about marine debris.  Following the elementary school, Rozalia Project went to Chicago Yacht Club to work with 60 high school sailors.  Again, the enthusiastic students helped us remove over 300 pieces of debris from the land surround the yacht club and about 20 pieces of debris from the water, a majority of it plastic cups (yes, many of them with the CYC logo).  That evening we presented our work to the Chicago Yacht Club members who then joined us to remove even more plastic cups from the water using the ROV.

On Friday, we had the unique opportunity to work with The McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum and The Friends of Chicago River.  Though it was quite cold, and of course very breezy, we removed plastic bags, sunglasses, and a broken street lamp from the Chicago River and worked with close to 100 Chicago residents and visitors who stopped by our tent outside the museum.  The river was a beautiful setting to trash hunt and the museum and Friends of Chicago River were gracious hosts who we can’t wait to work with again in the future!

In the afternoon on Friday, Rachael, our newest intern Carly, Karen from US sailing and I rigged up our neuston net on a whaler from Columbia Yacht Club to research floating microplastics in Chicago’s urban waters of Lake Michigan.  We found very few pieces per square kilometer, though this could be due to the fact that this is not the busy season for the city and there was an onshore breeze instead of an offshore breeze.  As always with Rozalia Project, this work was very eye-opening, rewarding and so much fun.  Lake Michigan is a wonderful place to do research and the shoreline of Chicago is stunning, especially decked out in Fall colors.

That night, NBC Chicago featured our work on the evening news and on their website with this excellent video:!/multimedia/Underwater-Robot-Collects-Trash/173790191

Our final two days in Chicago were spent at Coloumbia Yacht Club where we worked with students from Rickover Naval Academy, the yacht club’s junior sailors, and Program Directors who were attending the regional US Sailing Programs Meeting.  Saturday evening we had another great opportunity to set up a table and work with participants as part of the US Sailing Speaker Series where Dave Perry came to discuss racing tactics.  Over two days at Columbia Yacht Club we picked up a shoe, a glove, more plastic bags and cups and rounded out our visit by removing another chair from the waters around the yacht club!

Rozalia Project had a very successful trip to Chicago and we are thankful for the hospitality and collaboration of our hosts: The Lindblom Math and Science Academy, the Judd Goldman Sailing Center, Philip Rogers Elementary School, Chicago Yacht Club, The McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum, The Friends of the Chicago River, Columbia Yacht Club, the Rickover Naval Academy, Carly, Jeanie, Judy and Linda.  We can’t wait to return to the windy city and look forward to continuing our National Trash Tour in California in two weeks! 

Check out photos and videos from our trip on, and 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Many Hands Make Light Work

This summer, Rozalia Project learned that the people we work with make our organization as great as it is.  The interns that joined us this summer took our breath away with their perseverance, integrity, creativity, and professionalism.   In every location we visited, our partners commented on the high quality of the Rozalia Project interns.  We would not have been able to pick up over 40,000 pieces of debris (nor count or sort them) without the tireless efforts of our interns. 

Other than just their hard work, the interns made this summer fun, upbeat, and a truly memorable experience.  From dancing in immersion suits (viewable here: to jokes around the dinner table to squeals of excitement over interesting sea creatures, we were never short on laughs or good times. 

Happily, the interns felt the same.  Please read on to see what the interns had to say when reflecting upon their time with Rozalia Project this summer: 

“Entering the Rozalia Project late in the summer, I was both excited and anxious. I wondered if the crew would be intimidating, or the tasks overwhelming. I knew virtually nothing about sailing! Instead, I was warmly welcomed by the crew, and indeed, did jump right into work! My responsibilities, although new, were interesting and fun, and I never felt overwhelmed. After the first week in New York, I felt comfortable with caring for and driving the ROV and was ready to learn everything I could about sailing while on American Promise. Rachael, Rebecca and all the crew were so patient and helpful, I tackled sailing in no time! It’s an exhilarating experience, which I’m sure I will continue as a hobby. Another activity I’m sure I will never stop doing, is picking up debris! Just the other day, I found myself collecting a Styrofoam packing peanut off the ground and whispering under my breath: “Shipping material” as if another intern was beside me, keeping tally on a Rozalia Project data sheet. As an action/science intern, I feel that I walked away with skills that will allow me to reach my career goals, and experiences and friends that I will never forget. During our last day on American Promise, as we headed back to Kittery, Maine with no wind to sail, our spirits were lifted as we encountered a marine mammal extravaganza of a lifetime! We had Minke whales breach close enough to look us in the eye, and numerous dolphins and seals gliding past the boat just feet away from us. It was an amazing end to an equally amazing internship.”  – Sarah Kollar

“There is much about the Rozalia Project that defies characterization. It is tempting to call the work that I did for Rozalia an internship, but it was really a lot more than that. While I was on board the American Promise, I was learning, living, adjusting, and growing in ways that cannot be triggered by a simple internship. Similarly, it is tempting to describe Rozalia as a conservation group, but they are actually something more complex. I had the pleasure of being surrounded by new places, new people, new wildlife, and new ideas for the duration of my time with the project. I learned how to work and live in tight quarters with a group of people I barely know, I learned to look at the ocean and the world in a more critical way, and, perhaps most importantly, I realized the importance of safeguarding the world’s ocean. Thanks so much!” –Conor Grant

“Things I Learned With the Rozalia Project
·      Reprovisioning isn’t just a necessity, it’s a skill.  Feeding eight people, anticipating the week’s meals, making sure it will all fit in the reefer, AND that everyone’s Wheat Thins needs are met isn’t for the faint of heart.  That being said, no matter how often you’ve been, how much you’ve planned out your trip, or how quickly you need to be done, reprovisioning WILL take three hours, Sam’s Club WILL be overwhelming, and you WILL get at least seven bags of Veggie Sticks.
·      You have to be a jack-of-all-trades to start and run a non-profit. The number and range of challenges that Rachael and James, and consequently all the crew, face each day can, indeed, be daunting.  Today, the sump pump stopped working. Tomorrow we have to go to Staples and make six posters for a booth. Wednesday, you’re on dinner and have to walk the dogs. 
·      Networking is key.  The only way the Rozalia Project (or any non-profit, or any company, or any person) can grow and progress in the world is to network.  Even what seems to be an insignificant meeting could pan out to be something big.  And if it doesn’t, it’s always nice to have 10 more people in the world telling their friends about the Rozalia Project. 
·      Real science takes time and often doesn’t work.  Sometimes you have a great idea and get really excited about testing it and think it’s going to work as soon as you throw it in the water.  When the Basker took its first plunge, however, this clearly wasn’t the case.  Although it takes a while, the tweaking, testing, and perfecting can be extremely satisfying. You may even have to get hoisted along the spinnaker pole to make it happen.
·      There is trash in the ocean.  A lot. Most of it is small, hard to see by the casual passerby, and easily consumed by animals.  Even extremely remote locations such as Frenchboro, ME can have their pristine coastlines ruined by rusty traps, lobster bands made in Canada, and colorful bits of microfiber. 
·      Trash hunting is addicting.  What cleaning up trash lacks in glamour, it certainly makes up for in fun.  Amidst the scenery of the open ocean or the rocky beaches of Maine, who wouldn’t enjoy bending over and picking up other people’s litter?! Once you start you literally can’t stop (especially Kyle!). I was overcome with pride and respect for our team during the first day of the Frenchboro beach clean-up. Despite incessant rain the eight of us went to work without a single complaint.  We literally had to drag ourselves away from the beach, and THAT is awesome.
·      We can predict where high densities of trash will be and find it!  One of the more exciting discoveries during my month on the AP was that trash accumulates along “tide lines” where two bodies of water either from different currents or of different temperatures converged to form mats of sticks and seaweed.  Our first “tideline” tow collected 384 pieces of plastic!  The large lines we passed on the sail to Frenchboro had bottles, cans and buckets floating on them.  If we can find these convergence zones and tidelines, we can get even more garbage out of the ocean.
·      Red Solo Cups sink.  They may be great for parties, but these little devils shoot straight to the bottom.  It proves that everything we drop into the water, everything we lazily leave on the dock to get blown into the ocean, everything we throw on the ground to get swept out with the rain WILL sink.  While it may be out of sight, out of mind, it still poses problems for our aquatic friends.  Without the ROV, how would we know they were even there?!
·      There is hope for the world.  We can clean up the trash!  We can use plastics responsibly! We can recycle and properly dispose of our garbage! And the beauty of it all is that children understand this!  After watching groups of kids run enthusiastically between the ROV in the Fort Adams basin and the Rozalia Project tent on shore, gnarly-looking PVC pipe held triumphantly overhead, I believe that a change will happen.  These kids know that we cannot have trash in the ocean. They know the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  They know that their individual actions will make a difference.  This is what can and will solve the world’s problems, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”  –Blais Hickey

“During my internship I managed to fall overboard while at a dock, destroy my phone, tell my mom the wrong day to pick me up and then drop her keys into the ocean!   It was by far the most enjoyable internship ever! From sailing for the first time, to waving at seals, to picking up trash on far away islands there was no experience quite like it.  Even though things may have not gone perfectly, I realized there’s nothing more valuable then packing up and trying something new.  All the crazy things that will happen along the way just might surprise you.”  –Andrew Randazzo

“So often we, being The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, are described as the people who pick up trash.  And yes, this is true; we pick up a lot of trash, but we also do so much more than that.  This summer, as part of the Rozalia Project team, I learned that cleaning the oceans begins with the removal of one piece of marine debris.   While this seems like a basic concept, if you really think about it if every person in the world picked up one piece of trash a day (either from land or the water – all trash on land will become trash in the water), the world would already have over 7 billion less pieces of garbage littering the surface daily.  If we each picked up more than one, imagine what we could do.  As a science/action intern I spent a large portion of my time working on data sheets, organizing what Rozalia Project and our partners pick up.  Analyzing these numbers made me realize how much we can really do about this issue.  There was one day where Marina and I spent about 2 hours cleaning 2 or 3 blocks in Providence, RI and with just the two of us in this short period of time, we collected close to 900 pieces of garbage.  Everyone knows that marine debris exists, but working with Rozalia Project taught me that awareness is not the only thing we need.  What we, as a population need, is the inspiration to pick up that wrapper or piece of paper and toss it in a garbage can or a recycling bin.  With Rozalia Project, I feel that not only do I now have the will to eliminate marine debris, but I feel that I have also inspired others to do the same.” –Laura Migliaccio

Thanks again for an amazing experience!!! I thought I would share some things I learned and journaled while on American Promise:

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're learning something new, take advantage of the  
2. Keep a positive mindset and positivity will follow.
3. Remember the big picture. All small things and actions are 
    leading you there.
4. Be spontaneous even if it's scary.
5. Don't loose hope in mankind, inspire children.
6. There is no rush in life, you will reach your goals when  
    you're ready.
8. Don't be shy, there is no reason to be.
9. Everything happens for a reason.

Hope everyone got home safely and the next round of interns are ready for a once in a life time experience with amazing people! - Marina Maze

Some other anonymous quotes from our interns:

“This experience was significant for me in that I completely removed myself from every life comfort and familiarity. I put myself in a totally unfamiliar place and it made me step out of my shell. I became more confident and have realized I am not as shy as I used to be. It taught me to take every moment as an opportunity to learn something about myself and about life.”

“This internship was one of the best experiences I have had; it is extremely unique. I love that the second you arrive you jump right in with whatever project is happening in that moment. The bond that forms between everybody on the boat is so special and you really feel like an important part of something great.”

“I will continue to be active in my marine debris removal, just like the Rozalia Project is. I will also not be afraid to contact organizations that I am interested in and voice my opinion, or ask to get involved. After the internship, I feel more independent, flexible, spontaneous, creative and pro-active.”

“This internship helped to solidify my desire to pursue further education and a future career in oceanography. It was a great way to test the waters of this field of study. After spending time on American Promise, I am now also interested in doing vessel research.”

If you, or know someone who might be interested in an internship with Rozalia Project, please check the “join us” section on our website or e-mail

As always, make sure to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @rozaliaproject, and check out our pictures on to see the excitement of Rozalia Project’s Fall Tour!

For a Clean Ocean,
Rebecca Inver Moffa
Director of Outreach

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jumping right in: A new Intern's Perspective

I arrived in New York on Sunday evening, joining the Rozalia Project crew, along with another new intern, Zane. We quickly discovered that we have a bit in common, we are both from Michigan, and both go to Eckerd College in Florida. Most importantly, we are both passionate about finding and removing marine debris in any way that we can! The next day, we jumped right into duties as Rozalia Project spent the day at Larchmont Yacht Club. Throughout the day, we educated young sailors on marine debris and its impact on our oceans and waterways. I learned some shocking statistics from Rebecca as she presented- it takes around 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down into tiny microplastic! Kids and adults alike were enthusiastic in taking part in the  ROV navigation and were even more excited to pull up some trash. Our most interesting find was a fire extinguisher (Rachael and I accidentally discovered that it still works!). Zane and I were even able to practice driving the ROV on our very first day!

We spent our second day in New York at Beach Point Yacht Club and American Yacht Club. We had 3-year-olds, our youngest participants ever, at Beach Point in the morning. In the afternoon, we showed more students the ROVat American Yacht Club and pulled up a broom! Zane and I experienced our first Trash Race on shore with the kids and it was a whirlwind of trash and fun!

Wednesday brought a change of scene as we joined sailing students aboard the schooner Quinnipiack in New Haven, Connecticut and launched the ROV from her deck. Overall, we collected more than 286 pieces of marine debris and worked with 300 people of all ages over those three days!

The Rozalia Project crew is now in Portland Maine, where we will be educating, ROV-ing and collecting for the next few days. I am psyched to set sail towards Boston later in the week, as I am a beginner at sailing and I'm curious to see what debris may be awaiting us at the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Sarah Kollar, Rozalia Project Intern

Monday, August 6, 2012

A lot of marine debris and amazing interns!

Rozalia Project 2012 Summer Trash Tour: Session 1 Recap

What an amazing start to the 2012 Summer Trash Tour!  Starting June 3rd, we boarded American Promise: Captain Kyle Vowels, first mate Sloane Suciu, interns Kayla Lubold, Laura Dunphy, and Blais Hickey, Rozalia Project’s director Rachael Miller and me, the Science and Education Coordinator.  Over the next few weeks we towed our nueston net off the Isles of Shoals, removed thousands of pieces of trash from beaches on Frenchboro Island and beaches around Kittery, ME and Portsmouth, NH.  We also tested out our new low bycatch neuston tow device called a Baleen Basker (bioengineered design based on a basking shark and baleen whale).   During the first few weeks of this session we also had some other interns assist us with our marine debris removal, research and education:  Andrew Randazzo and Connor Grant.  At the end of June, we attended the America’s Cup World Series races in Newport, RI and a new intern joined us: Marina Maze.  After the America’s Cup, we got another new intern, Laura Migliaccio and had to say goodbye to some interns who had been with us for the first portion of the summer session.  Next we began our education-intensive portion of the summer doing outreach programs in Edgartown, MA, Providence, RI, Newport, RI and finishing up with a week of education in Boston. 

In Boston we docked at our usual spot at Courageous Sailing Center on Pier 4 in Charlestown Navy Yard and hundreds of sailing students helped us remove trash from the bottom of Boston Harbor with our ROV.  Besides our visits at Courageous Sailing Center and Community Boating Inc., we worked with some new outreach partners in Boston this year and went to new locations, namely Harbor Discoveries Camp at the New England Aquarium, Camp Harborview on Boston’s Long Island, and Jamaica Pond in Jamaica Plains.  We were able to remove many bottles, cans, tires, ropes, and other miscellaneous pieces of marine debris from Boston Harbor, the Charles River, and Jamaica Pond.  We are very excited to be heading back to Boston August 18-24 when we will again dock in Charlestown Navy Yard and run programs at Camp Harborview, Courageous Sailing Center, Community Boating Inc. and Jamaica Pond!

We wouldn’t have been able to remove 24,039 pieces of debris and work with 2,945 people this summer already without the tireless efforts from all of our interns.  They endured through seasickness, heat, cold and rain to help us further our mission of removing marine debris.  Our fearless interns piloted the ROV, sailed at night, got covered in plankton, sand, and mud all to take trash out of our waterways and dispose of it properly. Their enthusiasm buoyed us all and their passion for our work is an inspiration.  I can’t speak highly enough about their professionalism; we never heard a single complaint out of any of them!  I feel lucky to have gotten to meet every single one of them and we couldn’t be happier to have them as part of the Rozalia Project team.

We also had some special visitors onboard American Promise throughout our first session who also aided us in our mission and gave us indispensable support and their expertise.  Thank you Martha Fisher, Art and Nancy Glidden, Sean O’Hallaran, and Allyson Wilson!

The next portion of the 2012 Summer Trash Tour will kick off with underwater trash hunting and STEM education with the VideoRay ROV Larchmont, American and Beach Point Yacht Clubs in New York City and with Schooner, Inc. on the tall ship Quinnipiac in New Haven, CT.  We will have a few more interns join us and some previous interns will be back to help us at various locations.  From August 10-12 we will have a table in the Ecozone! and operate our ROV as part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival in Burlington, VT.  Following that, we will sail with American Promise up to Portland, ME before returning to Boston to finish up our summer with more outreach programs and research of the density and distribution of marine debris in Boston Harbor.

We look forward to many more breathtaking sails, incredible interns, excited students, and meaningful marine debris removal in the month to come.  Keep checking back to read our new blogs as well as visit us on,, and follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Rozalia Project Rhode Trip!

On Wednesday July 11, Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean departed Edgartown, MA to begin our “Rhode” trip of the sea. 

First stop: Providence, RI
            We pulled away from Edgartown Yacht Club as the sun was rising to begin a potential day and a half sail to Providence, but the ocean must have been just as excited as we were to get there.  With great wind and a favorable current the entire trip, we made it to Providence Community Boating Center (PCBC) by 7pm that same day.  The staff greeted us enthusiastically as we docked American Promise and settled in for our 3-day visit.  We kicked off our stay Thursday morning introducing students from a local STEM education program to the top 10 trash items found in the ocean, giving boat tours, and using the ROV to go trash hunting.   In the afternoon, we had more fun learning about and picking up marine debris with young sailors from PCBC’s summer program.  Friday and Saturday were filled with similar programming, including several hours where the public was invited to explore American Promise and check out some of the work we do.  We also had some time to bond with the fabulous staff at PCBC as we broke out the paddleboards and Laser sailboats for an afternoon of water play and watermelon.  After picking up 1,823 pieces of debris and working with 130 participants we were reluctant to leave Providence, so we extended our stay one more day to get some extra boat work and data input done, but on Monday morning we said goodbye to PCBC and sailed off.  We did manage to take a little piece of PCBC with us, as a staff member, Sean, joined us for our sail to our next destination…
Second stop: Jamestown, RI
           Rozalia Project arrived in Jamestown several hours after leaving Providence.  Upon arrival we had just enough time to set up before the delightful children of Jamestown hopped on board.  We discussed marine debris, searched the ocean floor for trash with the ROV, and played the “Name That Marine Debris” game with 30 students and counselors from local camps.  The day flew by, especially with the help of Sean, and before we knew it we were getting ready to set sail again for our final Rhode Island destination.  Little did we know that American Promise would not want to start her engine.  After hours of fiddling with the engine, we began to accept that we would not be able to sail out that night and would have to make other arrangements to get to our programming the next day.  It wasn’t until well after dark that we heard the roar of the engine.  Captain Kyle and his brother Shane had saved the day!

Third stop: Newport, RI
            Rozalia Project docked at the Alofson Pier in Newport in the middle of the night.  We immediately passed out in our bunks to get some sleep in preparation for the busy 2 days in Newport.  Tuesday and Wednesday were action packed as over 100 young sailors from Sail Newport stopped by to learn about marine debris.  Between trash races, ROV, and one beach cleanup, we picked up 1,715 pieces of trash!  We couldn’t have done it without the excitement and enthusiasm of Sail Newport’s staff and sailors, so thank you all!

We are now safely in Boston preparing for another week of exciting education activities and marine debris removal.  Keep checking back to read more blog posts about some of the debris we are finding and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and twitter too (, @rozaliaproject)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Data on data on data (and you do not need to be a scientist to get it)

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean is about halfway through our 2012 season and, with the help of many excellent people on the coast and in Vermont, we have already collected over 143,000 pieces of marine debris!  18,101 pieces were collected since early June with our interns aboard American Promise. Here is a quick list of the top ten items we picked up along the coast of New England:

Top Ten
Foam Pieces
Food Wrappers/Containers
Small Plastic (5-30mm)
Plastic Bottles
Microplastic (<5mm)
Caps/Lids/Bottle Tops
Rubber Pieces
Large Plastic (>30mm)

The above list accounts for 5,410 pieces of collected trash, over a quarter of the total number collected this far (we picked up over 12,000 pieces of trash on Frenchboro - there was so much that we only counted the number but did not fill out our specific data cards).

There are three main ways in which we collect this trash, each of which is effective in its own way.  Land cleanups account for the majority of debris removal.  Like the name claims, this involves picking up garbage found on the ground near bodies of water.  This is important because trash on land can be blown into the water by wind or swept in with runoff after heavy rains.  The other two methods are used for removing debris directly from the water.  We use various nets (Neuston, dip-nets, and our own Baleen Basker) and drag them along the surface of the water while we sail in order to pick up anything that may be floating or near the very top of the water column.  Lastly, we use our ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to explore and clean the ocean floor.  This underwater robot can be flown through the water using a control box that is very similar to a video game controller.  It has a camera on the front so that we can see everything the robot sees as well as a claw to grab any trash we find.

No matter which method we use, we fill out a data card every time we go trash hunting.  This ensures that we have a more detailed record of items we find so we can identify any trends in debris accumulation.  We break up the data card into five main categories (food-related waste, personal waste, fishing debris, industrial debris, other pieces), each with several sub-categories for more specific labeling.  With a little data manipulation, we are able to compare the percent debris removal of each category by each method to see which technique is most effective for a given trash category.  From the graph, we can see that collected trash during land cleanups is pretty much even across the five categories.  Surface tows, on the other hand, appear to yield small percentages of everything except “Other Debris”.  By digging a little deeper, we found that this could be a result of large amounts of microplastic that are found farther from the shoreline as larger items break down.  Surface towing is the most reliable method to collect these tiny pieces of plastic that we may otherwise not be able to see easily.  The ROV shows the highest collection rate for food-related waste.  This also makes sense because we often launch the robot off the side of docks where people dump either their trash or it blows from overflowing garbage cans.

As we continue to analyze our data, we are finding many interesting trends.  Check back in soon to see what else we have learned! If you are interested in helping Rozalia Project and your local waterway, we will be happy to send you a copy of our data card. Fill it out each time you and your friends and family do a clean up, send it to us and we will keep records to see how what you find compares to what we find.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Vineyard Sound Garbage Patch

The Vineyard Sound is known for its captivating shoreline as it leads boaters between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. With a beautiful 5 am sunrise on July 10, 2012 American Promise and the Rozalia Project crew set sail from Martha’s Vineyard to Providence, Rhode Island. After very little wind and 3 hours of motoring we found ourselves off of Cuttyhunk Island, which we recently discovered has been hit hard by marine debris washing up on the beaches.

Earlier that weekend, Pam, one of the great people we met at the Edgartown Yacht Club mentioned seeing a tremendous pile of marine debris that the locals have been collecting from their shorelines. This pile of garbage has been steadily growing, as there isn’t a clear way to get it off the island. The Cuttyhunk garbage pile was news to us, so we were paying attention as we approached that area on our passage.

With our on-going tideline research we have acutely trained our eyes to scan for large slicks of floating organic material. We call these slicks areas of accumulation, and we usually find them littered with inorganic material. It wasn’t long before we spotted a large slick with floating pieces of trash. As we approached the slick, we began noticing more and more garbage in the water. It wasn’t until the slick surrounded us that we realized how much trash was actually there. The amount of garbage was shocking, it knocked everyone off their feet.

We motored through the slick, all hands on deck, removing trash with anything we could find, dip nets, boat hooks and poles. We hoisted our intern, Marina, up the mast guiding us to large pieces off the horizon, such as a plastic 55-gallon drum labeled bait and a large plastic crate. After an hour and a half with 3 people grabbing trash from all areas of the boat, we made a significant dent in the amount of trash floating in the slick.

As we left the area, still grabbing trash floating by the boat, we began sorting what we removed. In the end we removed 244 pieces of trash, ranging from shoe insoles, burlap sacs, uneaten wrapped cucumbers and gloves. The most abundant items we found included 35 food wrappers, 23 pieces of Styrofoam, 22 balloons, 20 pieces of microplastic and 19 plastic bags. We were amazed at the sheer volume of garbage in the area.

You maybe asking yourself, why does trash accumulate like this in such high densities in such a huge ocean? In this case, it is due to the direction of the tide and, most importantly, the geology of the area. The law of physics states that water flows more quickly through small, narrow areas than it does through large, open areas. As water enters Vineyard Sound it speeds up through the narrow and shallow channel and slows down as the channel opens up into deeper water. The current associated with Vineyard Sound's ebb tide flushes water and floating debris down the channel southwest toward open water. As low tide transitions into slack, debris accumulates near the opening of the channel. As slack tide transitions into high tide, the accumulated debris is flushed back northeast through the channel, potentially adding more floating debris to the slick.

We can’t be sure how long our garbage patch had been accumulating. What we do know is that there is more work to be done in Vineyard Sound. We hope to return to the Sound with similar wind and tide conditions to see if a slick has re-formed and what has collected there. Our goal, as we encounter more of these slicks, is to get a good understanding of how and where slicks form so we can track them down and clean them up.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Lucky Dollar Bill (and our visit to Edgartown)

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean has arrived in Martha's Vineyard!  After a beautiful three day sail from Kittery Point, Maine, we received a warm welcome as we pulled up to dock at Edgartown Yacht Club on Thursday afternoon.  The beauty and charm of this town, as well as the graciousness of our hosts, made it easy to settle in and feel right at home.

After a much needed night of rest, we wasted no time in spreading the joys of marine debris removal and disposal as we began our stay with a public showing of our ROV at Memorial Wharf.  Hundreds of people passed by the area, checking out our underwater robot along the way.  There wasn't a whole lot of trash (which was a great thing to see!), but we did manage to pull out some BIG items!  After retrieving two tires, a few bottles, and some fishing materials (including a fishing rod), we made our way back to American Promise to wrap up the day with a few hours of boat tours and more ROV fun.

Much of Saturday was spent in the company of the amiable and generous David Murphy and family/friends.  A relaxing morning of swimming put us in a great mood for a day of debris removal.  We joined them for a delicious lunch and a good old Neuston tow.  We found several pieces of microplastic, tons of phytoplankton, a few crabs, lobsters, and needle fish (which we threw back into the ocean), but our most exciting find was definitely the $1 bill we pulled out!  Finding money in the ocean is a first for the Rozalia Project and this dollar has been dubbed our Lucky Dollar Bill and will be forever cherished.  After returning to American Promise, we donned our prettiest dresses and finest suits and made our way back over to the Murphy's home, where they hosted a beautiful party.  It was thrilling to meet so many interesting people who shared our love for the ocean and were so enthusiastic about our mission.

The last few days of our stay consisted of more ROV, boat tour, and education programs, including a fun session with EYC Juniors and Lunch With a View, as well as shopping in the charming shops found throughout the town.  We also had another chance to hang out with the Murphy family during a beach clean-up at the Gut at Cape Pogue.  After such a memorable and rewarding experience here in Edgartown we are sorry to go, but we are excited to make our way on to Providence where we are looking forward to three days of cleaning the ocean!  Check back in with us in a few days to hear about our adventures in Rhode Island!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rozalia Project at the America's Cup World Series... really fast boats and getting people psyched to keep the ocean clean

For schedule and information about Rozalia Project's visit to Edgartown July 5-11, please scroll down or click HERE!

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean has returned to Kittery, ME after a whirlwind four days of trash hunting, demonstrations, presentations, promotions and, of course, fantastic sailing at the America's Cup Series event in Newport, RI. 
We removed 53 pieces of marine debris with the ROV from a small area in the basin outside of Fort Adams, most of which was covered in a fine layer of sludge, crabs, and barnacles.   

Over 1,460 participants ventured to our booth and trash hunting tent, a picturesque spot situated perfectly between the race course and the race boats' moorings.  Hundreds of kids (and adults!) joined our support team, constantly running back and forth between the ROV on the dock and the screen on shore, marine debris held triumphantly overhead.  Our booth at the Exploration Zone also welcomed a steady stream of participants eager to learn more about our mission and all we do to remove marine debris.  

Rozalia Project ran our first Underwater Trash Hunt Challenge and congratulates Brad Read (Sail Newport), Martha Parker (Team One Newport) and Andy Green (AC commentator and pro sailor) for completing the challenge and getting the ROV to grab our trash-filled trap! Andy came out with the fastest time but we are impressed with all - as first time ROV pilots they showed some promise!

It is always a thrill to meet so many enthusiastic and supportive people who really care about doing their part to clean the world's oceans, and our Newport experience did not disappoint.  A huge thank you to our excellent host, Annie Becker, and thank you to Brad Read, Donna Kelly and the hard working crew from Sail Newport as well as all those who stopped by.  Cleaning the oceans is a grand task, and we cannot do it without you!  

We would also like to announce the first four winners of this summer's drawing.  In the upcoming weeks, we will complete a beach cleanup in your name and post an announcement and pictures on Facebook for each of your cleanups!  

Congrats to the following people:
Lucy Shea from Newport, RI
Chris Brett from Arrowsic, ME
Travis Bluemling from the Villages, FL
Kathy Clute from Bristol, CT

Remember to Like us on Facebook and check out our blog for more updates and photos from the summer's trash hunting activities!

Total trash count for Rozalia Project in 2012: 96,143

Our next adventure is a 120 mile sail from Kittery, ME to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, MA (via Gloucester and Provincetown). We have a full schedule featuring underwater trash hunting right from Memorial Wharf free and open to the general public as well as tours of American Promise, trash hunting, a program for junior sailors and special presentation for the members of Edgartown Yacht Club and their guests. See our Martha's Vineyard blog post or our Events and Shore Stops page for details on this as well as the rest of our shoreside programs. We hope to see you on the Vineyard... and beyond.

The current Rozalia Promise team: Blais, Marina, Rebecca, Sloane, Martha, Kyle and RZM

Rozalia Project coming to Martha's Vineyard - join us!

We are very excited for our first visit to Martha's Vineyard and have a fun, full schedule planned. Whether you are on the Vineyard for some sailing, some family fun or to enjoy the beach... stop by one of our events.

Thursday, July 5th: American Promise (Dodge Morgan's ex-record breaking voyager) arrives at Edgartown Yacht Club (EYC) docks.

Friday, July 6th:
Underwater trash hunting with the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) off Memorial Wharf for general public and members of the community. Great for all ages!

Open reception on American Promise; tours of the boat for EYC members.

Saturday, July 7th:
Beach cleanup with Murphy family and invited guests

Sunday, July 8th:

Underwater trash hunting with the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) off Memorial Wharf for general public and members of the community. Great for all ages!

Monday, July 9th:

Times TBA
Marine debris program with EYC junior program

Tuesday, July 10th:

Lunch with a View event at EYC followed by ROV ops and American Promise tours

Wednesday, July 11:
Weather dependent: American Promise departs to Providence.

We have opportunities for groups, camps and families to have some time set aside with the Rozalia Project team. Call or email us to make arrangements. We hope to see you soon.

The Rozalia Project Team

Friday, June 22, 2012

Discovering Garbage Patches in the Gulf of Maine

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean
Discovering Garbage Patches in the Gulf of Maine

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean recently conducted a research cruise on the sailing research vessel American Promise. On June 11th 2012, while on passage to Frenchboro, ME from Kittery, ME the crew of American Promise observed large accumulations of seaweed, wood and plastic floating marine debris in the area of 43° 20.50 N, 69° 50.20 W. These accumulations of organic and manmade matter extended for several miles on a northwest to southeast axis.

On the return journey from Rockland to the Isle of Shoals on June 18th 2012, we used a foam current model and sea surface temperature analysis from Tidetech to determine the potential location of marine debris accumulation. As predicted by our analysis we observed the  marine debris accumulation zone in the area of 43° 21.71N, 69° 41.11W. These marine debris accumulations again extended for several miles on a northwest to south east axis.

The Maine coastal current, as shown by the current model below, had its distal end in the area of debris accumulation. The lobe of cold water (56 degrees) is a good indicator of the presence of  the Maine coastal current. This current collects debris from the waters of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine and flows SW along the Maine coast. In the area of observed accumulation, the Maine coastal current peters out to zero,  thus becoming a probable marine debris accumulation zone. 

Tidetech Gulf of Maine Current Analysis 06.18.12 (click image to enlarge):

Tidetech Sea Surface Temperature analysis 06.18.12 (click image to enlarge):

The marine debris accumulations consisted of seaweed, wood in form of logs and branches, rope, net, plastic oil cans, plastic water bottles, lobster claw bands, Hooksett disks, plastic bags, plastic buckets, bleach containers and various miscellaneous unidentifiable  pieces of plastic (photo right).

The ability to identify accumulations of marine debris via current and temperature analysis is part of the cornerstone of Rozalia Project’s mission to clean up our oceans of this marine trash.

Rozalia Project believes that the oceans can be cleaned of manmade marine debris by identifying and locating accumulations, then using low bycatch marine debris nets remove this debris from the ocean.
Rozalia Project is currently testing a marine debris removal prototype called the Baleen Basker off the waters of the Isle of Shoals. Stay tuned on Rozalia Project’s Facebook page as well as this blog for up to date news and photos of the Baleen Basker, marine debris pick up, education and research from the surface to the seafloor.

James Lyne
Rozalia Project for a Clean ocean