Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rozalia Project Manifesto for a Clean Ocean

“Knowing is not enough,we must apply
willing is not enough,we must do.” 

We have all been bombarded with media stories of islands of trash the size of Texas floating in the Pacific and man-made toxins in the marine food web. We hear every week of new Tsunami debris washing ashore on the west coast of North America. These stories have been developed upon the valuable work of the scientific community discovering where, what and how much ocean pollutants exist in the marine environment.

The stories have struggled with hyperbole, there are no floating islands of trash, but the science research has been unerringly accurate in showing our seas as a chowder of ocean trash.

We have an environmental disaster on our hands that will reverberate through future generations if we do not cleanup. The cleanup is the sticky little pie. Many believe that ocean cleanup is an insurmountable task, a fools errand. Many people worry about the effects on marine life from unintended consequences of cleaning up our trash. Who is responsible? Who is going to pay for it? All valid questions, but they are questions that should not stop us taking action to find solutions.

Rozalia Project has been working hard to develop real world solutions to our ocean pollution problems. We believe we can have clean oceans and that success is going to take a multitude of methods. Rozalia Project is using a  multi-pronged, cohesive and comprehensive approach to clean our oceans.

Rozalia Project’s scientific research has led us to believe that the majority of ocean trash originates at the land/sea interface of our conurbations. The causes of trash ending up in the water are numerous and concentrated in these contiguous zones of human population. Inadequate number of, and overflowing trash cans, populations not taking on the personal responsibility to dispose of their trash responsibly, lack of physical screening on drains and storm water overflow pipes, lack of education as to the harmful effects of trash in the water and industrial pollution all are causes of ocean trash.  Rozalia Project has conducted a 2 year study of urban waters throughout North America, discovering concentrations of marine debris/trash of up to 282,000 pieces per km². The average concentrations in these urban watersheds rival and exceed that of ocean trash collecting zones in the center of our oceanic gyres.

Thus, it is Rozalia Project’s belief that our focus on cleanup should be at the land/sea interface, urban waters and at the convergence of currents in coastal waters where high densities of ocean trash have been transported directly from these conurbations on their way to the center of the great oceanic gyres.

Prevention: stopping trash getting into the water, and remediation: removing trash from the water and shores before it breaks down into micro size pieces, are the cornerstones of Rozalia Project’s belief that we can clean our oceans.

Here are the strategies and solutions that Rozalia Project is currently using to combat the problem of ocean pollution.

Rozalia Project is using existing technologies in new ways and developing new technologies to clean our oceans from the surface to the seafloor:

Baleen Basker - low bycatch marine debris net
The Baleen Basker is a prototype low bycatch marine debris net developed over the last 2 years by Rozalia Project. Low bycatch is imperative because catching volumes of plankton along with the trash would have a detrimental effect on our marine environment. The Baleen Basker was designed to exclude completely or allow organic plant and marine life to pass through the net, but capture any oil-based ocean trash such as microplastic, foam, etc. 

The Baleen Basker was bio-engineered to mimic the filter feeding abilities of baleen whales and the gill rakers of basking sharks. We are excited about the test results of our prototype, that, in phase 2 testing, has achieved up to 91% efficiency in removing microplastics from the water while excluding up to 48% of the organic matter.

This project is very exciting because of the ability to upsize to a Baleen Basker suitable for a commercial fishing trawler. The fishing industry has the skills to locate and capture fish in sufficient quantities to be economic. With the help of the Baleen Basker, these skills could readily transfer to fishing for trash in areas of coastal current convergence with high densities of ocean trash.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
Rozalia Project has pioneered the use of Videoray micro-ROVs to clean our seafloor of trash. The Videoray Pro4, equipped with BlueView imaging sonar and a manipulator, has proven very adept at removing beverage bottles, cups, cans, and food wrappers from the trash reefs found right off the wharfs of our urban harbors. The ability  of the ROV to work in low visibility or hazardous areas while removing trash at a rate of up to 30 pieces per hour has opened up the possibility of seafloor remediation in our urban waters, with little to no disturbance of sediment or marine life. This ultra low footprint and environmentally safe remediation has made the micro-ROV a perfect tool for the cleanup of the seafloor in our urban waters.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
In 2014 Rozalia Project will conduct a ground-truthing survey of marine debris/ocean trash density and distribution along the coast of New England. Using UAV technology (remotely operated aerial vehicles), Rozalia Project will chart the amount and location of ocean trash on the shores and waters of New England.  By using this new data, coastal cleanups of shorelines and beaches can be focused on areas with the largest aggregation of trash. This will lead to more trash removed from our waters and shorelines, as well as production of an accurate coastal trash density distribution map. Further work with this technology will include the use of automatic recognition software to process aerial photography, allowing Rozalia Project to quickly produce accurate debris density maps for locations throughout North America and beyond.

Sailing Research Vessel (American Promise)
Rozalia Project’s 60ft sailing research vessel, American Promise, is one of the greenest research vessels in the world. With nonstop, round-the-world, record-setting sailing performance and a state-of-art Steyr propulsion engine, American Promise averaged a fuel consumption of 3 gallons per day for its 2013 expeditions. Standard 60ft scientific vessels use up to 150 gallons per day. American Promise is capable of extended ocean voyages without resupply for up to 6 scientists and interns with 3 crew. Our goal is to make her the worlds greenest ocean capable research vessel. Refit plans for 2014 include new standing rigging, solar panels, wind power and hydropower. These additions will reduce our fuel consumption to 2 gallons per day of operation.

High Resolution Ocean Trash Forecasting
Rozalia Project has been utilizing Tidetech high resolution current forecasts and sea surface temperature charts, in conjunction with GFS and Predictwind high resolution wind models, to predict areas of high density ocean trash accumulation. We are working on a micro scale and able to forecast 1 to 2 mile strips where debris will accumulate. 

The UAV program will document these accumulation zones and map organic matter versus ocean trash ratios in these specific areas. The end goal is being able to route fishing trawlers utilizing the Baleen Basker to areas that will allow them to remove the most ocean trash in the most economic manner.

Rozalia Project Ocean Pollution Fellowship Program (Guest Scientists berths available on every 2014 research expedition)
Rozalia Project is a firm believer in good science, but there is a worrying trend. Scientists do not get to spend enough time on the water studying the problems of ocean pollution. We have hosted graduate level marine scientists who have never been out on a research vessel before coming onboard American Promise. This affected us deeply here at Rozalia Project. Thus, we have made guest scientist spots available on board American Promise on every 2014 research expedition. These spots are available at zero cost to scientists so they may conduct their own research during our expeditions. Rozalia Project is very proud to promote and support the future of marine science.

Rozalia Project Undergraduate Intern Program
Rozalia Project has had 50 undergraduate interns since 2011 join us onboard American Promise to participate in our science research and cleanup expeditions. Several of our interns have gone on to jobs or internships at several prestigious environmental organizations such as the Ocean Conservancy and U. of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean. We see our interns as holding the future of ocean science and as seeds that go back to their own communities to teach how important a clean ocean is for our future and grow new ocean stewards and scientists.

Rozalia Project has educated 47,000+ people of all ages about the effects and solutions to ocean trash through our in person education programs and our Expedition Reports/ virtual crew member programs over the last 4 years.

American Promise has been an integral part of the education program, with port stops featuring surface to seafloor cleanups and engaging education programs with over 75 education partners. These programs have been a great success, allowing participants to access cutting edge technology, and be part of the team applying this technology to clean our harbors. The ROV gives participants a connection to the marine world right under their feet, in their own harbor, a world most participants have never seen or experienced. Rozalia Project’s education program combines ocean clean up with giving our participants the building blocks to a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Rozalia Project believes the greatest way to modify behavior in a population is through education. Teach a child to understand, love and care for the marine environment, and that child will teach their own family to keep our oceans clean.

Rozalia Project, from inception to present, has removed 565,000+ pieces of ocean trash from the waters and shorelines of North America by leading a variety of our own and volunteer cleanups with the following featured partnerships and programs.
  • Rozalia Project led a FEMA funded back-to-work program for 41 unemployed workers to cleanup marine debris in the rivers, lakes and streams of Vermont after the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
  • Rozalia Project, in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, developed a program to clean several remote offshore islands in Maine. These island cleanups have generated great data on the composition of ocean trash in the Gulf of Maine, and inspired us to develop the UAV mapping program for 2014. Although the coast of Maine has few urban centers, it has one of the most concentrated and gear-intensive fisheries in the world, with up to 6.4 million lobster traps actively fished, and a similar amount of fishing gear used in adjacent Nova Scotia. The average loss of traps is 10-20% per year giving the Maine coast very high densities of derelict fishing gear. This fishing trash is severely affecting the marine environment. Rozalia Project is very active in this critical habitat, cleaning up and trying to find solutions to this industry-related ocean trash. The ability of American Promise to be self-contained for several weeks, allows a cleanup crew to work on these remote island for extended periods of time.

We need knowledge before we can act, thus Rozalia Project has implemented several scientific research projects to develop data from which we can produce solutions.

To date, American Promise has been the base for, or involved with, several research expeditions and projects:
  • Urban Waters Study-North America
  • Coastal marine debris density study based on areas of convergence 
  • Ingestion of microplastic by zooplankton, mollusks and worms, University of Exeter
  • Floating derelict fishing gear density study
  • Lake Champlain microdebris sediment study
  • Lobster cannibalism study, Noah Oppenheim, U. Maine
  • Side scan sonar survey of derelict fishing gear, NH/ME coast, Blue Ocean Society
  • Ground truthing derelict fishing gear/lobster traps, Gosport, Blue Ocean Society

American Promise will be available as a vessel of opportunity for any scientist or learning institution who wants to conduct scientific research on ocean pollution or climate change on the Gulf of Maine during our 2014 expeditions.

Rozalia Project is promoting several physical land based solutions to reduce the land to sea transport of trash.
  • Physical screening of storm drains to prevent trash washing into harbors during periods of heavy precipitation. 
  • Greater number of trash cans per mile at the land/sea interface of publicly accessible waterfront in urban areas. Overflowing trash cans are a major source of ocean trash.
  • Promote products such as Big Belly solar trash and recycling compactors that store more trash, prevent overflow and signal when full, saving municipalities money. 
  • Promote trash as an energy source through waste to energy power plants (if value of trash increases no one will throw it away). Sweden and Denmark have invested  heavily in waste to energy power production. Sweden is a net importer of trash and either recycles or puts 94% of their trash into waste to energy plants to make electricity.
  • Promote the idea of minimized packaging of products
  • Promote expanded recycling of single use products

James Lyne & Rachael Z. Miller
Co-founders Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean
c.802 578 6135 James
c. 802 578 6120 RZM

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An efficient, quiet and lower impact new engine for American Promise!

2013: The Re-power Report. See the video by clicking here!

Now that the American Promise part of Rozalia Project’s season is over, we wanted to tell the story of our repower, the decisions, the reality and partners who made it happen.

First, let’s set the stage. Previously we had a 1986 Perkins diesel. It gave us no more than 5.5-6 knots (mostly with the current behind us) using 2.5 gallons per hour or more. It filled the boat with fumes, the most noticeable from hydraulic fluid. It bellowed black smoke on start-up, if it started up at all as the engine spent nearly all of last year with a 60/40 chance of starting without needing to use all of the battery power on the boat.

Learning about the State of Maine’s Clean Marine Diesel funding gave us the inspiration we needed to put our re-power research into high gear. We had been looking at re-powering and the possibility of going to a completely electric propulsion system. We (optimistically) envisioned a boat without any combustion engines, powered only by renewables in the form of solar, wind and hydro power.

We had no-compromise requirements and some compromises we’d be willing to make. Safety was no compromise. That means we needed reliability and range. Next came environmental considerations: improved efficiency and reduced emissions. Then, human comfort: reduced noise and fumes and finally, features such as ability to use biofuels and seamless switch over - not needing to rewire the whole boat or learn entirely new procedures (which we would do if we had to, but better if we didn’t).

We soon found that, though an electric motor (or two) could power a boat as large and heavy as American Promise, no reasonable combination of electric power and battery banks could give us a safe range. For example, if we installed $80,000 of lithium-ion batteries (charged by solar, wind or hydro power and/or a diesel generator), we would only have 2-3 hours at 5 knots to travel before the stored power would be depleted. At that point, our only option for powered propulsion would be via the diesel generator which, until the batteries could be charged, could only provide approximately 3 knots of speed. The river where we keep our mooring has that much current at max flow. That is no speed at which one can outrun (or end run) a thunderstorm. It became obvious that, while there are boats for whom electric power is a viable option, for American Promise, there is not enough range or safety to be found in an electric motor now or in the near future.

Enter the Steyr, Tier 3 marine diesel. We chose this motor for several reasons. All of which are a reality for us. Here are the stats:

  • This summer we averaged 8-9 kts under power using 1.8-2 gallons per hour.
  • We do not have a boat filled with fumes. This engine has an 80% reduction in nitrous oxide emissions over a Tier 2 engine.
  • We do not belch black smoke upon start up, nor at any time. This engine has an 150% reduction in particulate matter over a Tier 2 engine and 1000% improvement from our 1986 diesel.
  • The engine starts every time we turn the key.
  • We can NOT hear that the engine is on while on the bow all the way to aft of the mast (unbelievable). We do not need to shout over it when under power down below or in the cockpit.
  • We outran 2 severe and fast moving thunderstorms arriving at our mooring with time to spare for one that slammed us with 60 knots at the top of the mast
  • We were always able to maintain control and precision in the swift moving waters of our homeport (the back channel of Kittery Point off the Piscataqua River)
  • We did not need to rewire the entire boat.
  • We did not need to learn any new procedures. We check the oil, we turn the key, we check the exhaust and we go. The maintenance schedule is reasonable and easy to follow. Our two home boatyards (Kittery Point Yacht Yard and Maine Yacht Center, who did the installation) are certified to work on the engine.
  • Using a combination of power and sail and the generator for house bank power, we traveled 170 miles over 3 days for $61 in fuel from Northeast Harbor to Frenchboro to Hurricane Island to the Isles of Shoals and home to Kittery Point (includes conducting 4 surface tows under power before topping off the tank at the end of the expedition).

In addition to the above, once we are out of the break-in period we will be able to start running on biodiesel - all the way to B100. We could even be eradicating ocean pollution while running on restaurant waste in the form of veggie oil.

American Promise is the first vessel in North America to install this Tier 3 Steyr engine. The technology and features are new to the boating public. We showed the engine off to people all over the Gulf of Maine and in Boston and we are spreading the word that a switch to a Tier 3 marine diesel is a reasonable and accessible change that anyone who uses a diesel can make when ready to re-power. The benefits to the environment are easy to see and achieve (significant reduction in emissions, reduced footprint by increased efficiency and using renewable fuels), the benefits to those onboard are immediate (reduced noise and reduced fumes), and the benefits to the owners/operators clear (improved safety, same procedures with better performance, reduced operating/fuel cost).

Rozalia Project is grateful for support from the State of Maine Clean Marine Diesel Program with the Maine Marine Trades Association; 11th Hour Racing and Kilroy Realty Corporation as well as the Maine Yacht Center and Kittery Point Yacht Yard. Support from these forward thinking organizations made a big difference to Rozalia Project and American Promise. We will have a wider and wider effect as we share the technology and results with the boating community and everyone who loves the ocean and wants to do their part to keep it healthy.

See the video by clicking here!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A big month for Mission Atlantic

After realizing that all of our news has been posted on Facebook, Twitter and through the Mission Atlantic Program, we realized the blog needed an update. This just in from some of our amazing 2013 interns: Anna (U. of Missouri), Shira (College of the Atlantic) and Tina (Virginia Commonwealth U.) looking back at their weeks with Rozalia Project onboard American Promise...

Hey everyone!

Weve been wicked busy doing research, cleanup, and education in the Gulf of Maine and Boston.  Were admittedly a little bit behind with our updates, so heres a snapshot of our adventures during the past few weeks on the quest for a clean ocean!

After a big crew change in Rockland, Maine, we sailed to Hurricane Island.  This was the beginning of two weeks of research with five brilliant scientists from the University of Exeter, England doing PONAR sediment grabs (keep your eyes out for a link to a great video) and Neuston tows! These “science under sail” methods make it possible to capture zooplankton and sediment dwelling animals to then find whether or not they ingest microplastics.  This research is exciting because it may show us if microplastics are entering the bottom levels of the food web.

We were greeted at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership by fantastic hosts who taught us about the islandʼs sustainable infrastructure, including composting toilet systems and solar panels.  Another important learning experience happened, too - the Brits had their first sʼmores during a 4th of July celebration!

In Boothbay, Maine, we had the opportunity to meet up with our friends at the Boothbay Sea and Science Center who, like us, are working to get kids out on the water and involved in ocean research.  We toured the Bigelow Labs, home to some awesome marine research from the smallest of ocean creatures on up.

Our next stop was Portland, Maine, where we participated in Portland Green Drinks.  Though the Maine Yacht Center, where the event was hosted, is a bit of a journey out of town, more than 400 people came out to the event.  We were blown away by their enthusiasm and it had the strongest attendance of any of our events yet!

We continued on to the Isles of Shoals to research and had the chance to explore Star Island and learn about the local ecology.  One evening, we hosted some of the Pelicans (Star Island staff) on American Promise, enjoying the best bioluminescent show we had ever seen!

Excited to proceed to our big week of education, we sailed down to Boston via Kittery and Gloucester, enjoying great weather and singing sea chanteys during a couple long days under sail.  In Boston, we set up shop at the Courageous Sailing Center at the Charlestown Navy Yard.  The beautiful view of Boston as we arrived put us all in agreement that Boston by boat is the way to go!

Our first day of education was spent at Community Boating, arriving via the Charles River, which inspired one of our Mission Atlantic reports about the locks and seasonal fish ladder systems.  During our education program at CBI, Hector (our ROV) recovered his first key ever and we even found its owner. One of our students was inspired to make his own ROV at home. We always love to see what methods the kids are inspired to create to clean the oceans on their own! 

Throughout the week, we worked with several hundred kids and their phenomenal instructors with the Courageous Sailing Center programs in Charlestown, Community Boating on the Charles, and at Jamaica Pond.  Between boat tours and American Promise history lessons, Hector flying time, surface dipnetting and dock tows, we were able to immerse the students in everything that Rozalia Project is about, “immerse” being the operative word.  As Hector raised bilge tubes and plastic cups to the surface covered in sediment sludge, the kids were shown an accurate representation of ocean cleanup, which can sometimes get a bit messy!  This theme continued on one of our favorite afternoons of surface cleanup with the programʼs Instructors in Training.  A torrential downpour in Boston presented the opportunity for a lesson in interconnectedness as all of the litter from the cityʼs streets washed down storm drains and bubbled up into the harbor.  We only spent 30 minutes wrangling this trash but ended up grabbing 507 pieces in total!!  An enormous proportion of our haul was made up by food wrappers, but each one had at least a couple of micro debris pieces hanging on for the ride. 

We're now back at our home base in Kittery, doing some final research and
development on our Baleen Basker and fondly reminiscing about the past 4 weeks aboard American Promise.

A huge thank you to our partners - we couldn't do it without you:

Rockland Public Dock

The team from the University of Exeter: Dr. Tamara Galloway, Dr. Ceri Lewis, Dr. Andrew Watts, Stephanie Wright & Matthew Cole

Sam and crew at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership

Nicole at Bigelow Labs

Pauline, Ed and everyone at Boothbay Sea and Science Center

Tom and Debrah Yale

Maine Yacht Center

Portland Green Drinks

Star Island staff

Kittery Point Yacht Yard

Dave, Kate, Rebecca and crew at Courageous Sailing Center

Ginger, Colin and crew at Community Boating, Inc.

New England Aquarium Harbor Explorations summer camp

The Boston Harbor Association interns

Berwind Family Foundation interns

Bonnell Cove Foundation of the Cruising Club of America

In-Kind sponsors: Interlux, Cloth n'Canvas, OCENS, Select Design, Scully Interactive

OʼConnor family

and this summer's funding partners: 11th Hour Racing, American Chemistry Council, Berwind Family Foundation, Kilroy Realty Corporation, Boat US Foundation, State of Maine Clean Marine Diesel Program/Maine Marine Trades, Lake Champlain Basin Program, WND&WVS and our generous contributors to the Annual Fund

Thanks for reading!

For a clean ocean,

Rozalia Project interns AF, SC, and TM

Monday, June 3, 2013

That was not exactly the plan

Today's blog is directly from Rozalia Project's Mission Atlantic Mission Report 11. 

Different perspectives on the same big day/Mission Report 11

“American Princess, American Princess, this is US Coast Guard Sector New England, what is your location and have you contacted a marine salvage or towing company?”

Of all the conversations we could be having at 2230 hours (10:30pm) on Thursday May 30, this was not at the top of our list. The fact that the name of our beloved vessel, American Promise, came through the VHF as American Princess was, in the end, a good excuse for a chuckle as we were adrift just outside the mouth of the Piscataqua River. We were just 2.5 miles from our mooring with a 10 hour-old transmission that smelled like burnt chemicals and propellor that would not spin. The good news is that it was an ebb tide (pushing us back out to sea as opposed to on the beach), a flat sea (making the deck stable), we are a sailboat with sails ready to go, we have a calm, trained crew, the stars were pretty and we are members of Tow Boat US so Steve from Portsmouth Towboat was on his way.

While one might think that being adrift and getting towed in at midnight would be the most drama  for the day, for many onboard, it was not. The day started in Portland, ME 12 hours before we attached Steve’s towing bridle to our bow. In the 48 miles between Portland and just outside of the “2KR” buoy at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor where we shut the engine down, we had interns complete their very first ocean sail, navigate for the first time, get seasick for the first time and we all saw our first TWO basking sharks!

We asked each of our interns to write two paragraphs about the day. Here is what they said... 

Tara: Thursday was a very exciting day for me for two reasons, the first being, it was my first real trip on a boat!  Aside from a few short, 3-hour trips I’ve taken with school, I’ve never really been on a boat.  Besides being seasick for part of the ride, it was AWESOME!  There is certainly something special about the way a sailboat glides through the water.  Also, being in the middle of the ocean at nightfall and being able to see every star possible is a very cool experience.

Though I’m going to school for marine biology and will be graduating next year, I really haven’t seen much wildlife except for what lives in the intertidal zone, so you can only imagine my excitement when we saw TWO basking sharks while underway!  Their fins were huge!  One of them ended up following us for a bit and the other popped up right next to the boat while we were heeled over.  We could actually see the tip of the second one’s tail fin sticking out of the water; we estimate he might have been about 15 feet long. I hope your Thursday was as exciting as mine!

Christian: You never realize how much you take a level surface for granted until you try cooking a meal on a boat that is under sail. I was able to have this interesting experience last night while I was cooking the very gourmet meal of noodle soup and bread with butter for the crew of American Promise.

I witnessed pots and pans flying from one side of the galley to the other, all while trying to balance liquids so they wouldn’t tip over.  I have heard about living on the edge, but never living at an angle…  I found it to be quite a fun challenge.

Michael: Last night was a totally new experience for me. When we were motoring towards Kittery our transmission pooped the bed. Before the crap-out, the engine had been surging and making strange noises. When the RPMs and the engine drone fell out of sync our Captain, James, went below only to find smoke in the transmission compartment. We quickly shut everything down and radioed for assistance.

Drifting in a quiet and black sea was eerie yet calming. I was assigned as the spotter on the foredeck, looking for lobster traps, buoys, and other vessels. Once it was clear that we were safe, I occupied myself with the spectacular stars.

Kate: As a dinghy sailor, from the Chesapeake Bay, I had never really sailed in the ocean before. It was an exhilarating experience that I would gladly repeat minus the slight seasickness. Getting to steer and tack the boat was a huge difference compared to laser sailing. The boat’s reaction time is much slower so I had to be careful not to over-steer the boat.

Raising and lowering the sails was a huge process that required almost the whole crew’s effort. Sailing after dark was also a new experience for me. Stargazing in the middle of the ocean was amazing and watching the beautiful sunset as we were underway was a priceless experience and my favorite part of our journey to Kittery.

Kaleigh: Dear Beloved Voyage Journal, As I gnawed on my first ginger chew, Captain James (we don’t call him that) said we were ready to sail. With all hands on deck, I struggled to establish my sea legs as we handled lines, cranked winches, and wrestled the gigantic white sheets to begin my first time as a crewmember on a sailboat. Voila! We were underway, and it was smooth sailing—such smooth sailing that as the vessel rocked slowly from side to side my eyes closed and my head fell to my chest as I lounged on the side of the cockpit. Bobbing back up, slightly embarrassed, I noticed the
same dozing demeanor on the faces of each of my fellow interns and my worry vanished. 

The voyage was marked by two thrilling basking shark spottings (!), navigation by numbered buoy markers, and a viewing of the eerie Boone Island as James retold the historical Spanish trade boat wreck story that nuances the land with haunted helplessness. Vivid sunset images eased my mind as my head hit the pillow in my cozy bunk aboard American Promise.

My observations... emergency training is priceless; when it seems something is wrong, have a thorough check - it probably is; and the natural beauty of the sea, stars and a few basking sharks is enough to eclipse seasickness, the ignominy of being towed and replace frustration with determination.

Good seeing the whole picture,

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean

Today’s Report by: rzm and the crew

Report tags: all ages, inside, outside, expedition story, different perspectives on the same day

**To see other MIssion Reports, go to: http://www.rozaliaproject.org/mission_atlantic_docs/  

If you would like to start receiving the Mission Atlantic Mission Reports, they go out almost every day during the week! Go to: http://www.rozaliaproject.org/contact/mission_atlantic.php to sign up (it is free).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: Every Piece Counts

This blog comes from Mike Capper, heading to U. of Minnesota to study History and earn a teaching certificate. He is a sailor from Lake Minnetonka and wrote this blog from onboard American Promise on the first day of his internship with Rozalia Project.

I first became aware of the Rozalia Project in the summer of 2011 when Rachael Miller visited the Wayzata Community Sailing Center where I coach, and she stayed at my parent’s house. Rachael worked with the children and the staff spreading awareness about marine debris through hands-on activities, lecture, and video: her work left tremendous impacts upon me, and more importantly, the young sailors. She impressed upon us the dire situation that our oceans are now facing because of human neglect and abuse.

Due to Rachael, my own actions and attitude have changed drastically: I used to just pass marine debris and street garbage by without a second thought, but today I will go out of my way to pick up trash wherever I find it. In fact, I am sure to carry a bag to the lakes to pick up trash: the amount I can get from just a casual stroll along the shore is staggering. People will stop and thank me, yet do nothing themselves, so I have decided to take along an extra bag or two and say, “you can make a difference too, every piece counts.” Sadly, although sometimes rather conveniently, there are bags already littering the shore to put trash in: I end up using trash to get rid of other trash. She made me realize how intimately life is tied to the health of the ocean, and not just marine animals or the creatures that eat them, but for all life on Earth. All life is tied to the cycles and health of the world’s watery surface through the cycles of the rain, the weather, the tides, and the currents. Our garbage and pollution is steadily chocking and poisoning our precious water, the one thing that allows life to flourish on this blue gem of a planet. This is all the more nerve racking because Earth is the only planet that we have, and we are suffocating it. I have joined the Rozalia Project because I truly believe in their mission through education and awareness.

I have seen the fruits of this important work right in my community with our sailors. One of the last sixteen year olds (at the time) who I thought would ever care much about anything beyond himself, pleasantly surprised my dad (Wayzata Community Sailing Center Executive Director Cappy Capper) and me by picking up trash during race practices and handing it to us at the finish line multiple times since Rachael’s visit, which also translated into other sailors doing the same. He would even enthusiastically shout “marine debris!” and go out of his way to retrieve it. More significantly, he continues to take responsibility for the lakes and waterways that he sails on as a senior at Wayzata High School, even taking time to educate other sailors and competitors. Young men and women like that young sailor are what give me hope for a better future for out planet: they show us that to facilitate change and to shape a brighter future, all you need is creative education.

The work that the Rozalia Project is undertaking is vital to our planet’s, and our species’, health, and I am proud to be a part of it. I know that we are making a difference, even though it is only a small amount at the moment: it is the small trickle that will split the rock and turn into a flood.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog:

Today's intern blog comes from Vermonter Gigi Veve. Gigi studies Zoology at the University of Vermont and has had some unique experiences with orcas in Argentina! We hope she is a lucky charm when she joins us on American Promise and we all get to see some amazing orcas.

When I was a young girl I watched Moby Dick with my dad, who was a former dive master and adventurer of the sea. I will never forget the disgust and hopelessness that I felt towards the sperm whales that were getting slaughtered for their bodily possessions. Around the age of 10 my parents brought me to Sea World in Florida, there, once again I witnessed unbelievably incredible species being exploited, purely for human entertainment; all of it seemed so inhumane. I knew even at that time that these huge and beautiful creatures were not meant to be treated like this, they were meant to be in the wild. I knew then that no matter what it took I was going to spend the rest of my life doing whatever I possibly could to save these creatures from harm.

Killer whales have always impressed me in ways that no other species have. I was lucky enough to have parents with a passion for wildlife photography and I was given the opportunity to visit the Punta Norte Orca Research facility in Peninsula Valdes, Argentina. For two weeks I was completely detached from the world, living on a ranch that ran on power from an onsite generator running from sunrise to sunset. In the two weeks we dreamed about being able to witness an attack. This is the only place in the world where these majestic creatures beach themselves in order to attack sea lion colonies along the shores, and sure enough we got to see one. That moment, 7am Juan and I (Juan was one of the scientists and the owner of the ranch) sprinting with our cameras in hand as quietly as we could (so we would not disturb the sea lion colonies) got on our hands and knees and once we were close enough, inched our ways to the shoreline. Mel, one of the male killer whales, was circling the area eying the colony, especially the oblivious pups that were playing along the shore. Before I knew it the whole crew had caught up and we were all in a line waiting for it… then it happened. Mel’s complete body came out of the water and snatched one of the pups from the shore. All I could hear was the constant clicking of everybody’s cameras going off, and that’s when I put mine down. I figured this was the one chance to be able to see this for my own eyes, and I was not letting a camera get in the way of such a breath taking experience.

Having this experience at the age of 16 was monumental in my decision to spend the rest of my life working with, and doing my best to save the whales of the world. When I learned about the Rozalia Project I was instantly attracted to its overall goal of cleaning up the ocean debris. In order to save the species of the ocean we must keep it clean. Learning in classes and witnessing first hand the affects of inadequate debris disposal of humans, has pushed me to want to make the world a far cleaner place for this generation and well into the future. Having the opportunity to be an intern for Rozalia Project will allow me to continue my life goal and share it with others who share the same passion as I do

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: picking up marine debris by rowboat

This intern blog comes from Heather Harrison who is pursuing her Masters of Science in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability at Antioch University of New England after completing her undergraduate work at Eckerd College in Florida. Heather has spent some time alone on an island...cleaning the waters by rowboat!

When I began my freshman year at college my roommate lent me a keychain from Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A heavy, metal keepsake, it contained the aquarium logo on one side, and the following profound quote stamped into the reverse:

“Those who have never seen themselves surrounded on all sides by the sea can never possess an idea of the world, and of their relation to it.” – Goethe

Having grown up and spent most of my life along the coast of Maine, I felt the impact of these words immediately but did not realize how closely this quote would continue to align with the path I would later follow. Upon completing college I found myself literally surrounded on all sides by the sea when I took a summer job as a steward on Damariscove Island Nature Preserve, five miles off the coast of Maine. Everyday, a ceaseless and tireless task included marine debris cleanup along the rocky shoreline. It is truly amazing how much trash can wash ashore with every cycle of the tide. A favorite method of obtaining garbage from the island's cove was by dinghy, which offered three different strategies for cleanup: "drive-by" catching in the water by hand; use of the oars to extend my reach; and parking the dinghy as I searched for footing amidst the slippery, seaweed-covered rocks. The sense of urgency for cleaning up this trash was never-ending. If I didn't pick it up when I saw it, it was sure to be washed out with the next tide and become an unsuspecting hazard for creatures of land and sea. This was always my primary reason for picking up trash. Not because I didn't like the look of it (which I don't), but because I was concerned about what animal might be harmed by ingesting the garbage or getting caught in it. 
I was exposed to this firsthand when I interned at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Florida and with the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges. The amount of birds I witnessed harmed by fishing line and hooks was staggering. Unfortunately, many of these birds would be found too late, tangled up and suspended in mangrove trees on otherwise pristine islands. It left me with a heavy heart when I witnessed these tragedies, while on the other hand it was immensely rewarding to save those that could be untangled and watch them fly away with renewed freedom. It is because of these experiences that I consider marine debris cleanup to be extremely important and imperative to maintain on a daily basis.

While volunteering much of my time with the Ocean Conservancy to clean up shoreline trash, and with OceansWide (of Maine) to use remotely operated vehicles to educate children about the importance of protecting our oceans, I continually find myself on the path of marine conservation. When not working with an organization, I can be located wading through the shallow waters of nearby beaches, gathering bag-fulls of trash on my own. Those who witness this often thank me for my actions but never partake in the cleanup themselves. This makes me wonder what more can be done to inspire people to care for the environment. Even if everyone just picked up two handfuls of trash whenever they walk along a beach, it could have an incredible impact. In an effort to urge beach-goers to do just this, I once made a sign for a school project and placed it along the shoreline of a public park. It stayed up for a few months but eventually disappeared. Perhaps swept out to sea by harsh weather, rolling tides, thoughtless folks, the eventual way of all manmade objects along the shore. If people could be influenced to care, to see themselves surrounded on all sides by an ocean of trash, to see the birds and marine mammals losing their lives by our carelessness, we could achieve momentous environmental strides. I still have that keychain with the Goethe quote and keep those words close to my consciousness. To share this vision, to see our relation with the sea, will be my effort with Rozalia.        

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: "Throw it in the street and stay inside."

This intern blog is from Glynnis Eldridge, from New York City, whose time teaching in India taught her about people, human rights, the environment and that change is not easy, but can happen.

In a room on a rooftop in land locked Nana, Rajasthan, I spent the spare time of my 19th summer. I taught when I wasn’t there; I tutored English to the women I lived with, and taught Social Science, Environmental Science, and English classes to children enrolled in the elementary school that met downstairs. In my spare time, I tried to teach myself: I wrote and read a little, but more than anything, I spent my time peering from the rooftop, and researching human rights. I learned through observations about Nana’s waste management, sewage systems, and the caste system; how people depended on each other there (some more than others. Some had unbelievable responsibilities instilled in them by way of the unfair social hierarchy that is the caste system). I learned through PDFs made available through spotty internet connections that, like freedom (from slavery and torture), access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and access to education, are international human rights, and are equally important. These were not all available to everyone I was living with. From one person to their neighbor, there were imbalances. 

Right: The view from my room on the roof. Open sewers are visible on the far side of the street. 

There was the boy who worked without breaks. He lived in a stable lined with rice bags and grasses, and was paid in food scraps. He would peer through openings in the walls of my classrooms. I encouraged him to participate in after school activities when he had time. There seemed to be some breakdown of the caste system between him and the school kids. Sometimes I would see him being punished; caught ‘spying’ on my classes, pulled by his ear, kicked in the back, pushed forward. Once he showed me a long cut on the back of his head, which he had gotten, he told me through a kind of gesturing that crossed our language barrier, by trying to cut his own hair. I had brought a box of antibiotic infused bandaids with me from the US, but they were all bright colors. I put a purple one on the back of his head. When I later walked over to the other side of the house, I found the bandaid discarded on the floor. I was scolded through a language barrier crossing gesturing that everyone seemed to understand; a lot of head shaking, finger wagging, harsh tones in voices, like a dog given commands. When I knew him, he was 14. My coworkers told me he had been working for the family who lived in the school building for at least seven years. 
Right: My family in Nana, helping each other up the side of a hill surrounding a small, spilling reservoir, after a storm. 

There were the women I lived with who pulled their headscarves over their faces when they saw their in-laws, or when they left the house. Where I lived, women were not given the liberty to make decisions for themselves about when or where to run errands, to visit with friends or family, to travel, to leave their [husband’s family’s] homes. While I was living there, I was more or less given that same lack of liberty; the headmaster of the school instructed me in our first meeting to, “stay home… for your own safety.” 
It was monsoon season while I was there. The summers in India are known to be “rough”; while experiencing the effects of long standing drought, I see storm clouds passing not so far away. I wonder how they miss us, if storm clouds might be long and narrow in shape. There will be power outages for three hours every day because of the drought. The fans that keep malaria baring mosquitos out of my room will turn off with the electricity, and I will be covered in bites when the power turns on, after the sun sets, in the middle of the night. When the storms do come through, the power shuts off again. Bats fly into my room. There is lightening and our neighbors light candles and nearly burn their house down when they jump, startled by thunder claps.
In Nana, when the storms hit, the rain comes down in sheets and lasts for what feels like hours. There are floods. The open sewers lining every street overflow and wash into the rivers with the rain. Upon visiting the reservoir for much of the state of Rajasthan, it is easy to see the runoff from all of the floods I’ve thus far experienced. At it’s mouth, the water is thick and brown: it’s surface is speckled with garbage and pieces of clothing. 

Right (both photos): The mouth of the reservoir for much of Rajasthan. 

One of my coworkers tells me that her family is sick from the water. I offer her some of the purifying tablets I brought with me from the states, but know this would only be a short term solution. 
The headmaster of the school tells me not to drink the tap water. The doctor I met with before leaving the States told me the same thing, and not to eat unpeelable fruits or vegetables, smoothies made with ice, or anything from a vendor. Already, I feel a moral discrepancy. The headmaster of the school cannot pay me for my volunteer work, and instead offers me a place to stay, and enough shipments of bottled water to last me through my stay at the school. She tells me not to share these 1liter bottles of Dasani. I am a stranger here, and I don’t know what to do. I want to live not as an outsider. Everyone else is getting sick by drinking water from the tap, from wading through their own pollution and the bacteria that grew in their open sewers. I drink the bottled water. I share. I am not careful about keeping the tap water out of my nose or mouth or ears when I shower or wash my face. The family I stay with tells me to use the bottled water when I brush my teeth. I don’t, sometimes. How can I know what it feels like for water to hurt me from the inside out, when I’m abiding by rules of ignorance? 

I stepped out of the frame of the curriculum I had been given for my courses, and decided to incorporate what I could into my lessons about ways to combat the real life problems that I saw; things bigger than language. It started out as a small field trip. I took the fifth graders out to the street one day. I brought with us our classroom’s garbage can and enough pairs of gloves for every student. My assignment to them was simple: let’s look around us, and figure out what doesn’t belong. Let’s pick up the garbage, together. 

Right: A polluted stream that ran through the heart of Nana. 

Within five minutes, the garbage can was filled. It was then that we were met with our next problem: what now? There was no waste disposal system in place there, then. We compiled the waste in garbage bags I had brought with me. I asked my students to decide what to do next; where to take the garbage? Should we get rid of it? If so, how? I told the students that the garbage could not be thrown back into the road, or anywhere where it would could get washed into the river. It cannot end up in the reservoir. 

Right: A sculptural map of the region served by the reservoir. 

When I first arrived in Nana, I had some things with me I had meant to throw away when I was on the train up. I asked the elderly man who lived in the house where I stayed, where I should put my garbage, and he laughed at me, and then said, “throw it in the street.”  

Right: One way New Yorkers take out their trash, by comparison.

The students I worked with did not come up with a final decision during my time with them, about what to do with the garbage they collected. They asked to do this activity when we met every day, and told me that they did it on their own time outside of class. They told me that they talked about the project with their friends and families outside of the school, and that everyone they had spoken with was receptive to the project. By the time I left the school, I felt that the students truly believed that they were personally responsible for the beautification, upkeep, and health of their neighborhoods. 
It is my hope that by participating as a summer Intern with the Rozalia Project, I can learn and reflect on the ways young people view their responsibilities for the health of this planet. I am curious about the solutions that so many of these people might already have. I am hopeful that the students the Rozalia Project meets this summer will (come to) view oceans, rivers, shore lines, neighborhoods, and general cleans up as an interesting, feasible, and exciting undertakings. 

In cities that are nestled against oceans, like New York, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, it seems to be easier to realize just how close we are to affecting the seas and the rest of the world. In landlocked places like Nana, perhaps it is less easy to make such a connection. Location should be irrelevant. What should be at the forefront of our minds, no matter where we live, is the health of our home. There is water everywhere, and it always leads back to the oceans. What we put in is shared, dispersed. We can also put in effort, and explicit concern for our global, individual, and interpersonal health now and moving forward. We can share that with our neighbors, and they can share, and they can share. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rozalia Intern Blog: From hide and seek with crabs to Pick-Uppalooza

Today's intern blog comes from Marina Duchesneau, soon to be graduating from Plymouth State University! Marina is joining us for our pick cleanup session in Frenchboro toward the end of the summer and from her blog, looks like she will be a great addition to the cleanup team

I grew up in central Massachusetts, and was at least an hour away from the ocean. Whenever I would get the chance I would drive to the nearest beach just to unwind and enjoy the salty air and fried food on the boardwalk. I have always wanted to be closer to the ocean, so I’m extremely excited that I’ll be spending part of my summer interning for the Rozalia Project, and Mamomet Conservation Sciences. I cant wait to participate in both opportunities.

I’ve always been curious of the ocean, and always loved being near it; especially when there was a visible sea critter I could study. One of my first memories of the beach were crabs trying to hide from all the other children, including myself. Everyone was so curious of how they dug into the sand and defended themselves, and all I wanted to do was protect them. I’ve always had this passion for protecting species and the environment. I learned about the North Pacific Gyre freshman year of college and never forgot about it. It always stuck out in my mind and I would think to myself why and how did it all end up there. I’ve been fascinated with it ever since and have gotten more involved with clean up programs in my area. I participated in Plymouth Pick-Uppalooza this past year and collected a total of ten bags of trash with the help of my friends. I still collect pieces everyday to and from my walk to campus. Every little bit matters and makes a difference.

I’ll be graduating Plymouth State University this May and couldn’t be more excited to go out and make the world a better place. I have enjoyed several classes such as: Biology, Conservation, Managing the Earths Resources, and many more. I’ve only taken one class that related to the ocean, and traveled to Acadia National Park for it. As a class we successfully constructed an inter-tidal study on all the organisms we found. I fell in love automatically and wanted to learn more. I believe knowledge is key in anything you do, therefore I’m eager to work with the Rozalia Project.

A year after Acadia I studied abroad in Torino, Italy. I helped create a sustainable plan for a 16th century castle. Throughout the 4 months I was there I helped St. John International University come up with ideas for another school that focused on sustainability. This wasn’t marine related nor was I near the ocean but whenever I got the chance I traveled towards the coast. I spent time traveling to Ireland, England, Germany, Spain, and more of Italy. Overall I would like to leave this earth a better place than I first found it. Given the opportunity to intern with the Rozalia Project I will be able to physically make a difference and educate others about our ocean’s dirty secret. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Rozalia Project Intern Blog: A leatherback turtle's necropsy inspiring action

This intern blog comes from Shira Catlin. Shira is a sophomore at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine where is is working towards a BA in Human Ecology with a focus in Marine Science and a teaching certification in elementary education. Shira was recommended by our partners at the Boat US Foundation where she also interns and we are excited to have her onboard!

I grew up in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes, but unfortunately not the ocean. Through family vacations and class field trips I was fortunate enough to spend time on the coast learning about periwinkles, humpback whales, and phytoplankton.

Through my studies at College of the Atlantic I get to work with a marine mammal research group called Allied Whale that conducts research in the Gulf of Maine. The group was founded in 1972 by the former president Steve Katona along with students, staff and faculty. The organization has grown and is now part of the Northeast Marine Regional Stranding Network. Allied Whale curates the humpback and fin whale catalogues of the North Atlantic. Allied Whale responds to strandings from Rockport, ME to the eastern Canadian coast.

This past August Allied Whale was notified of a floating--and what seemed to be dead --Leatherback turtle. It is unusual for Allied Whale to respond to turtle strandings. The majority of calls Allied Whale responds to are about seal pups or whales.

On August 22nd, Allied Whale took the college’s research boat to the coast off of Schoodic Point near Winterport, Maine to assess the leatherback turtle. The turtle was deceased and was transported back to the college where a necropsy would be performed once the school year resumed. Allied Whale has a permit to conduct necropsies to determine cause of death as well as to collect data. Work-study students and volunteers take part in operation. A necropsy is an autopsy performed on an animal. If a deceased animal comes in during the winter or at times when there are not enough volunteers or students present to conduct a necropsy the animals are put into a freezer and are necropsied at a later date.

Although the smell might be horrendous, and it can be gory, necropsies are exciting, educational, and engaging. The procedures are completed outside along the main driveway of the college. Observers are encouraged to stop and take pictures, ask questions, and learn about the process they are witnessing.
During the leatherback necropsy there were many professors excited to learn about what the inside of the turtle looked like. In addition, the local elementary school arranged for the sixth grade class to come in small groups and observe the procedure.

This was the first necropsy I was participating in and the fact that it was on a turtle was very exciting. I began as a work-study student for Allied Whale this past fall and this was one of the first necropsies of the season. There were many questions that I and many other people were wondering before the start of the necropsy. Probably the most pressing one was, “How did the turtle die?” The only way to answer this question was through performing the necropsy.

Necropsies vary in their length depending on the size of the animal and how much data needs to be gathered. Taking pictures and documenting information also adds to the amount of time needed to complete the task. In this circumstance, the necropsy took almost a full day.

In the final stretch of the procedure the stomach and the esophagus were opened up, and our prediction for the cause of death became known. Inside the stomach the only content was a sheet of plastic. This moment of “ah-ha” was not positive nor was it happy. The sixth graders observing were seeing first-hand how pollutants such as plastic can be ingested by marine animals.

I imagined the turtle floating along and mistaking the plastic for a piece of seaweed, simply opening it’s mouth thinking it was eating another satisfying meal but in reality it was consuming a material that would become trapped in it’s stomach. This would cause the turtle to have a false sense of fullness, leading to a decrease in it’s intake of nutrition.

Having the experience of taking part in this necropsy and being able to see the sixth graders learning first hand about the damage marine debris can do to an animal reinforced my desire to take my interest in education and marine science to help increase understanding about why we need to keep the oceans free of toxins of all kinds.

The Rozalia Project combines my love of the marine environment and my enthusiasm for education. I am looking forward to the summer aboard The American Promise where together we will teach kids about marine debris and spread knowledge about how we can collaborate to prevent debris from ending up in the ocean and having detrimental effects on the environment and marine ecology like the sheet of plastic had on the unassuming turtle found near Winterport, Maine.