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 (facebook.com/rozaliaproject, @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