The Boothbay Sea and Science Center (BSSC) at the Ocean Point Marina held an educational program on Thursday, July 16, on the problem of marine debris around the world, presented by the Rozalia Project and Parley for the Oceans.
During this all day program, the crew members and visiting scientists aboard the American Promise, gave BSSC participants a tour of this record-breaking circumnavigator and greenest sailing research vessel in the world, introduced them to the various tools used to locate and remove marine debris from the ocean and sought their feedback about Ecovative’s mushroom buoys. This program was sponsored by the Ocean Point Marina. BSSC is most grateful to Dan and Eileen Miller for their overwhelming generosity and support.
During the morning portion of the program, Boothbay Sea and Science Center participants learned about the solar panels, wind turbines, and hydro powered turbines that help run the electricity aboard the boat. They also found themselves peering skyward at American Promise’s 84-foot mast that dwarf those of BSSC Sonars. The participants of the Mizzen/Budding Scientists Program and the Stay’s’l/Emerging Oceanographers Program embraced a sense of wonder about what life is like to live in the boat’s cabin, sleep in the berths, cook in the galley and use sinks and heads that only operate when water is pumped to them.
Anna Sirois, a BSSC Apprentice Instructor had the good fortune of spending Thursday night aboard the American Promise and enjoy the adventure of delivering American Promise to Wotton’s Wharf the following morning.
Also included in the morning activities was a “Trash Relay Race” led by the crew of American Promise. The objective of the game was for Team A to collect all their trash before Team B. Jumping from one imaginary stepping stone to the next (marked with an “X” on the marina deck) participants made their way towards a pile of marine debris. Competitors had a choice of tools to use to pick up the trash — a net on a long pole, a bucket with a rope handle, gloves, or a nifty trigger grip trash grabber. Styrofoam was the most prevalent trash, as it is in the marine environment. The most challenging trash to pick up were small pieces of plastic. The competition was fierce and everyone had a blast.
An exciting new component of this year’s Rozalia Projects experience is the inclusion of volunteer scientists among Miller’s crew. One such scientist was Sue Van Hook, a mycologist at the Troy, New York-based startup, Ecovative. The company uses fungal mycelium, or mushroom root structures, to create organic and renewable alternatives to existing environmentally harmful building and insulating materials such as plastic foam and toxic resin. Sue brought some samples of Ecovative’s newest project to test along American Promise’s travels: fishing and lobster buoys constructed from the company’s mushroom materials. BSSC students put these buoys through their paces, testing their flotation and the durability of their natural epoxy exterior. The Boothbay Sea and Science Center is pleased to announce that they have been chosen as 1 of three sites to test this material. Consequently, buoys were left at BSSC for a long-term decomposition study.
The afternoon portion of the program found BSSC participants appreciating hands on experiential learning activities related to collecting, analyzing and cataloging marine debris — sharing in an immediate and positive impact on the onshore and underwater world and, hence, becoming active parts of the solution. Rozalia’s innovative technology and research and data collection techniques mark the first step in controlling the spread of marine debris in our area.
Rachael Miller and Dr. Nicole Poulton, member of the BSSC Board of Directors and Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, have been working over the past year on bringing back the Rozalia Project to the Boothbay Region.
“It is an honor and a privilege for BSSC to welcome back the Rozalia Project to the Boothbay peninsula,” said Dr. Nicole Poulton. “We’re very appreciative of the opportunity to continue the dialog that BSSC began during the Rozalia Project’s visits in June of 2013 and July of 2014.”
This summer, BSSC’s educational collaboration with Bigelow Laboratory, the Rozalia Project and Parley for the Ocean helps move the Center forward on its path to becoming a regional learning center for marine science, maritime history, seamanship, navigation, safety at sea, meteorology and boat building.
Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to find and remove marine debris, from the surface to the sea floor, through action, technology, outreach and research. The Rozalia Project operates and sails the coast of New England aboard American Promise, a 60-foot sailing research vessel equipped with state-of-the-art, surface to sea floor trash hunting technology; including 2 remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) with side scan and imaging sonar and surface nets.
The Boothbay Sea and Science Center at the Ocean Point Marina in East Boothbay is a community education center that offers affordable access to waterfront activities for Maine and summering youth through sailing, boating and science programs and experiential learning activities not typically provided by other regional organizations. One of the goals of the center is to enrich the existing science and engineering curriculum during the school year at local public schools.
For more information about these programs and to download registration materials, please visit the center’s website at: www.boothbayseaandsciencecenter.org. Limited financial assistance is available. Eligibility is based on need.
BSSC is seeking funding from a variety of sources: private donors, foundations, and corporations offering products or services in-kind. Incorporated in Maine in June 2012, BSSC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. BSSC is now accepting donations of equipment and supplies, as well as financial contributions. Any donation made is tax free to the extent permitted by the law.
Detailed program descriptions and schedules, as well as donor information and a detailed wish list, can be obtained on the BSSC website at www.boothbayseaandsciencecenter.org. or via their email email@example.com