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

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