Ocean lover Goffinet McLaren has just released a new book for kids–as well as adults–about a seagull named Sullie who organizes all his marine animal friends to combat plastic pollution. I asked Goffinet to tell her story of how she came to love the sea and to write Sullie Saves the Seas.
Goffinet McLaren’s story
I was born and grew up in the small historic town of Carrickfergus, on the water`s edge of Northern Ireland. Surrounded by the sea, I became aware at a very early age of the importance of caring for the ocean and it`s inhabitants. As I grew into adulthood, my sense of right and wrong ripened into a positive passion to make a difference to our planet.
In 1979, I moved to the United Stateswhere I married my husband Ian. We have one son, Moutray.
In 2006, Ian and I retired to Litchfield on the beautiful coast of South Carolina where I could renew my association with the sea and it`s precious marine life. From the first day, however, I realized that something dreadful was happening! Litter of all sorts, and particularly plastic products, was being washed into the sea – carelessly left upon the shore by thoughtless tourists. A cold chill went down my spine as I instinctively knew that plastic in any shape or form, would not be good for marine life.
Concern for the welfare of marine life was the impetus for a letter writing campaign to any celebrity that I thought might listen. I thought that I had discovered another “Inconvenient Truth.” I wrote to Al Gore, Oprah, Michael Moore, Anderson Cooper, and Fabian Cousteau to mention but a few.
Unfortunately, my letter writing campaign had little response! But I felt that if the pristine beaches at Litchfield had a problem, then beaches all around the world had to have a problem. One day, I googled “Trash in the ocean” and up popped Capt. Charles Moore, the sea captain, who accidently discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I called over toLong Beachimmediately and Capt. Charlie not only responded to me but empathized with my concerns. I read everything that I could about Capt. Moore’s research and became an instant disciple. I then started writing letters to papers and giving power- point presentations to anyone who would pay attention.
One day, Algalita called to tell me that Bonnie Monteleone was hosting Capt. Charlie at a presentation inUniversityofNorth Carolina,Wilmington. My husband, myself and a news paper photographer set off forWilmingtonwith great enthusiasm. My worst fears about plastic in the ocean were confirmed—as a result of plastic ingestion, millions of birds, seals, dolphins, turtles, and even whales, suffer heart breaking deaths, a phenomenon that I now refer to as “a holocaust of ocean life.” I was haunted by all that I knew and resolved to bring more awareness to the plight of marine life. I also noticed that when I spoke with families on the beach, the children paid attention but adults just wished that I would go away— and often said so!
One day, as I was picking up plastic, I noticed gulls pecking at some abandoned plastic bags. I remembered the gulls back in Ireland living on fish. It occurred to me that the gulls could really explain all the changes that have taken place on the beaches since I was a little girl and Sullie was instantly hatched!
I resolved to write a book in a positive attempt to educate children and young adults about the consequences of plastic pollution. My story is targeted at a children`s audience, but in the hope that adults will read it too and fall in love with Sullie’s heroic adventures as he leads his bird friends in a mission to reverse the conduct and turn the bad behavior on humans themselves.
So far, both kids and adults have responded most positively to Sullie’s mission. You can read the reviews on Sullie’s face book page.
To enter the give-away, please leave a comment below with ideas you have for teaching children about plastic pollution. I’ll choose a winner next week.
02/20/2012 Update: The random winner of a copy of Sullie Saves the Seas is Amy. Congratulations! The drawing is now closed.