Founding Birds

Meet Goffinet McLaren
     "I was born and grew up in the small historic village of Carrickfergus where I was surrounded by the sea and all life revolved around the tides. Back in the 40’s and 50’s the ocean was crystal clear and one could gaze at the sand below spotting every pebble on the sand. My life took me along many different paths but the call of the ocean was always in my soul and so my husband, Ian, and I retired to Pawleys about 5 years ago.
     After many unanswered letters to any celebrity that I thought should be interested, I searched the internet for “Trash in the Ocean” and up- popped Capt. Charles Moore and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. To my horror, I discovered that litter and plastic in the ocean is a global problem of mammoth proportions.

Subsequent to chatting with Capt. Moore, I met Bonnie Monteleone, UNC Wilmington, whom I invited to Pawleys Island to talk about her “Eye Witness” account of plastic in the ocean. 

And over the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of meeting many other people who have contributed to bringing awareness to the plastic plaque in their own assorted ways. Among these wonderful activists are Anna Cummins and Dr. Ericksen of 5 Gyres Institute; Daniella Russo from the Plastic Pollution Coalition; Ted Duboise  from “The Plastic Bag Ban Report”;  and on Facebook, I have been introduced to many more committed anti-plastic activists. To mention but a few:  Stiv Wilson, responsible for banning of plastic water bottles in the Grand Canyon; Beth Terry who has published, “How to Live a Plastic Free Life”; Paul Sharp, Two Hands Project; Danielle Richardette, “It Starts With Me”; Andy Keller, Chico Bags who recently had a law suit imposed on him by the huge plastic bag manufacturing company, Hilex Poly. And here locally I have made friends with many like- minded people such as Grace Gifford, Sharyn Kovac, Laure Lee and Joyce Goodchild.

     In an effort to try to make a contribution to the plastic scourge myself, I recently published a book, Sullie Saves the Seas  which points out the careless, needless acts of littering by humans and how marine life does not appreciate their natural environment being polluted by thoughtless human behavior. The book is targeted at kids but there is something in the story for every age group.
     To further awareness, we as an anti-plastic activist group are forming the Chirping Bird Society, an organization to which any one can become a member, provided they pledge reduction of their plastic foot print and ‘chirp’ and ‘cheep’ about the plastic plague to encourage others to pay attention and help alleviate the unnecessary animal suffering that we witness today. When a seagull chokes to death on a piece of abandoned plastic, to me it is the same as beating a seagull with a big stick: the only difference is that one act is inadvertent and the other deliberate."

Meet Bonnie L. Monteleone

Graduate Liberal Studies
Chemistry Department Administration
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Wilmington, NC 28403
(Dec 2005-present)

B.S. State University of New York Cortland, Communications - Concentration Journalism, Minor Studio Art, 1999
M.S. University of North Carolina Wilmington – Liberal Studies Program 2011

Monteleone received her Master’s Degree at UNCW.  Her thesis title “The Plastic Ocean Project” looked at the compromised environment for the convenience of plastic.  Her thesis investigated questions beyond the physical harmful effects on marine life, such as ingestion and entanglement, and quantified plastic found in samples from four open-ocean voyages.  She currently works in the Chemistry Office at UNC Wilmington and collaborates with chemists examining the plastic samples she collected from the North Pacific, and the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres. Lastly, the research allowed for outreach detailing the three socio/political changes necessary to combat the detritus of one-time use plastics – education, legislation and motivation.

Outside of UNCW, currently Monteleone collaborates with Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), Dr. William J. Cooper, University of California Irvine (UCI), and Dr. Maureen Conte, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS), 5 Gyres Institute, and Plastic Oceans Productions. Beyond the North Atlantic, her research highlights findings in the vast accumulation of plastic known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, research with 5 Gyres Institute transecting the South Atlantic from Brazil to South Africa, and off the coast of Fiji in the South Pacific with Plastic Oceans Productions.

A major thrust of her studies addresses the question “If the gyre in the North Pacific is inundated with plastic, is it happening in other gyres?”  Monteleone completed her first field study exploration in the North Atlantic Gyre in July 2009 with BIOS.  The team used a variation of AMRF and NOAA’s standard methodology for sampling the ocean surface as well as collect surface feeding fish to sample tissues for plastic contaminates.   In the fall of 2009, Monteleone accompanied the AMRF 10 year anniversary voyage into the North Pacific Gyre to aid in quantifying the distribution of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch traveling 3,460 nautical miles. Fall 2010, she voyaged with 5 Gyres from Brazil to S. Africa – 4200 nautical miles. All expeditions provided Monteleone with outreach through open-ocean blogging to the general public as well as AMRF’s Ship-to-Shore Education Program with students from seven different countries.

Monteleone’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) “A Tale of Entanglement” ( has been highlighted on Surfrider’s website – Rise Above Plastics and on Ocean TV in Hawaii.  Her final project website is: and blog is She has given numerous lectures about this issue including, but not limited to, the GEOVADA Conference, Nevada, University of Hawaii, Hilo, UNCW Biology Seminar, Osher Life Long Learning Program, American Association of University Women, the American Geophysical Union  – Ocean Sciences Meeting - Portland, Oregon, NOAA Marine Debris Conference - Hawaii, Tara Theatre - South Carolina, as well as an American Chemical Society Meeting - North Carolina.  Publications include Orange County Coastkeepers Magazine, Cortland Standard, Star News, Bermuda Gazette, and Wilma Magazine.  Other media outlets include a video PSA titled “Reduce, Reuse, Reduce” for an EPA contest that received Honorable Mention,two radio interviews on NPR  and being quoted in the NY Times,  Most recently, Monteleone presented a five week solo art exhibit at the UNCW.  The title, “What Goes Around, Comes Around” utilized plastic she collected from the four voyages in a 25’ art installation providing beauty of the sea illustrated in Hokusai’s1830s, ”The Great Wave” against the present day scourge of plastic marine pollution.  In March 2012, Monteleone will voyage with Plastic Oceans Productions to sample the S. Pacific leaving from Fiji.

Meet Laura Lee
Laura holds a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy, an M.B.A., and an M.A. in the teaching of writing. After tracking Soviet submarines for the U. S. Navy and serving as a fleet protocol officer, she began to share her passion for writing by teaching in the private school systems of Newport, Japan, and Bermuda.  She is a certified "Step Up to Writing" teacher trainer and qualified for S.C. PACE Middle Level and Secondary Language Arts.  A personal motto of "write your life so that others may be illuminated" has fueled her desire to work with the United Way, Brookgreen Gardens, Operation Smile, myTERMS, Little Squirrel Book Review, Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art, Georgetown County Schools, Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, and Greenrock.  She is a private writing tutor, a certified yoga teacher, frequently mentors undergraduate students, and is very active in her children's education. Laura is married and has three children. Her anti-plastic life began with Capt Moore's book talk that changed her life and set her family on a path to help eradicate single-use plastic from the planet - one bag at a time.  Laura writes for the Chirping Bird Society blog. 

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