Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ocean Exploration Cruise - June 3, 2018 from 7 am to 1 pm is a GO!

Ocean Exploration Cruise
Sunday, June 3, 2018
7 am to 1 pm
Onboard the Privateer IV with 7 Seas Whale Watch
7 Rogers Street, Gloucester

Date of this Posting: Saturday, June 2, 2018

Status of Trip on June 3: A GO!

Hi: I was just offshore today and winds were calmer than predicted with almost no seas offshore. Our trip tomorrow at 7 am continues to be a go. I assume winds will increase over the course of the night and early morning, so we expect to sneak this trip in before it gets nasty offshore. The marine forecast for Monday through Thursday is not good so this may be the last trip offshore for a few days. 

Please be down at the 7 Seas Whale Watch dock at 6:30 am and we will board as soon as we can. Bring food, drinks, and dress appropriately. Keep your belongings to a minimum so everyone will have space. NECWA will bring some merchandise onboard to help raise funds for our projects and activities, so bring cash if you want to continue to support our work. We will also have our free nature raffle onboard with Michael O'Neil at the mic, so be prepared!

Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow morning. Here we go!

Best, Krill (508-369-8303)

Date of this Posting: Thursday, May 31, 2018

Status of Trip on June 3: A GO!

Hi: We are a go for our rescheduled trip on Sunday, June 3 from 7 am to 1 pm. Please be down at the 7 Seas Whale Watch dock, car parked and ready to board by 6:30 am. We leave right at 7 am so please don't be late.

If you haven't had a chance to complete the liability waiver and send it back to Thomas Robben, please do so before Sunday. If necessary, bring the completed form with you and hand it to Thomas when boarding. 

Dress for the weather and be prepared for rough seas offshore. You can keep track of the marine forecast by clicking HERE.

Keep your belongings to a minimum to make room for all and feel free to bring food and drinks with you, but please no alcohol. 7 Seas Whale Watch has a galley and they accept only cash. 

If you would like to donate a new or gently used nature item to our free onboard raffle, please give to me as you board. 
Looking forward to an adventure on Sunday. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. My cell is 508-369-8303 and my email is 

Best, Krill 


Date of this Posting: Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Trip Rescheduled: Sunday, June 3, 2018 from 7 am to 1 pm

We have rescheduled our Ocean Exploration Cruise from Saturday, May 19th to Sunday, June 3rd. 

If you are registered for tomorrow's (canceled) trip and would like to attend our June 3rd trip, we ask that you contact Krill at to let her know. No additional payment is required and NECWA will reimburse you $10 to compensate for the reduced time offshore. Those reimbursements will be made on the day of sailing. 

If you registered for tomorrow's (canceled) trip and cannot attend the June 3rd trip, then please contact Krill to let her know that you would like a refund. Once Krill hears from you, she will go to PayPal and refund your ticket online. 

If you would like a refund and you paid with a check, please email Krill and provide your full name and the complete mailing address for the reimbursement. 

If you would like to register for this new date of June, 3, go to our Constant Contact Event Site by clicking HERE.

For all refunds, you will be refunded the complete cost of your ticket, minus a $10 administration/registration fee. This helps to cover NECWA's expenses related to advertising and needed supplies. 

Please contact Krill if you have any questions or concerns. And please spread the word about this new trip for space is still available. 

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and fair seas on Sunday, June 3rd. 


Date of this Posting: Friday, May 18th, 2018

Status of Trip: CANCELLED

With our Spring Ocean Exploration Cruise on the horizon for this weekend and rain and wind in the forecast, interns and staff here at NECWA as well as staff of 7 Seas Whale Watch have been monitoring reports with hopes of positive changes. Unfortunately, with passenger comfort and safety in mind, we will be cancelling tomorrow’s cruise, May 19thbecause of high winds, low visibility, and rain. With heavy hearts, we thank you for your support and sincerely apologize. 

For registered guests who have paid, you will receive a refund of $80 tomorrow; your $90 ticket minus the $10 administration fee (students will receive $55 after the administration fee). If you paid via Paypal, you will receive your reimbursement through there, and if you paid by check, one will be mailed back out to you. Please allow 5-10 business days for this to post your account or to receive your refund check. 

Please contact Krill at with any questions or concerns. 

Date of this Posting: Thursday, May 17, 2018

Status of Trip: The weather for Saturday is still not looking great. We are holding off from making any final decisions until Friday early afternoon around 1 pm. If the weather continues to look iffy, we have 2 choices. 

1- Cancel the trip completely and folks will get reimbursed the majority of their ticket. 

2- Switch the trip to Sunday, May 20th but the trip will only run from 8 am to 1 pm. This reduced time offshore is due to the fact that 7 Seas has a scheduled afternoon trip that day. Participants will get some money back given the shorter trip.  

3- Wanted to get this out to folks as soon as I could. Feel free to email me or call me if you have any questions or concerns. 

Again, a final decision will be made tomorrow, Friday, by around 1 pm once we get a look at the marine forecast that comes out at that time. 

Wish I could control the weather :  )  Sorry for any issues this may cause folks. 

Best, Krill

Date of this posting: Wednesday, May 16

Status of Trip: The trip on Saturday is a GO! Weather is not looking great, but that can change all the way up to the time of the trip.

Keep an eye on this blog for updated information on the trip. There might be rain on Saturday so dress accordingly. 

Here is additional information that I recently provided in an email sent to all participants. 

Departure: Please be down at the 7 Seas Whale Watch dock by 7:30 am ready to board the boat. We leave at 8 am sharp so make sure to get to Gloucester with plenty of time to park, grab your gear, and board the boat. 

Parking: We pay for parking in the large gravel lot to the north of the 7 Seas ticket booth. The kiosk at the front of the lot accepts cash and credit cards. 

Onboard Galley: For food, there is a full galley onboard the boat and they prefer folks bring cash to pay for food and drinks. You are more than welcome to bring your own food and drinks, but space is limited so please keep your gear to a minimum. No alcohol. 

Liability Waiver: Each person who attends this trip must provide a completed form to Thomas Robben. This form is good for both the spring and fall Ocean Exploration Cruises. 

NECWA Merchandise: We will bring some t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items for sale onboard the boat this Saturday. If you would like to pick-up some NECWA merchandise, please pay with cash or a check. 

Thanks again for all your support and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.  

Best, Krill 
President, NECWA

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Not your ordinary Science Project - First Prize at the Regional Science Fair

Anna Du, a 6th grade student at the Andover School of Massachusetts, won First Prize at the Regional IV Middle School Science & Engineering Fair.

Read about her amazing science project below. 

Developing a Smart Infrared-Based ROV
to Identify Microplastics in the Marine Environment.

The world is facing a threatening problem of microplastics in the ocean. Microplastics, which are plastics the size of 10 um to 5 mm are accumulating everywhere, and its effect on the environment is disastrous. As of 2017, 8 million metric tons have been dumped into the ocean. Not only do the animals in the ocean get affected, humans do as well through a few different means. We can eat fish directly, or eat farm animals that depend on seafood byproducts, or we can eat vegetables that used the animal’s manure as fertilizer.

It's very difficult to separate microplastics from microorganisms and other particles in the ocean; using density, filtration, and chemical techniques have proven to be highly insufficient means of accurately isolating microplastics. To solve this problem, I have built an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) which can analyze microplastics in the ocean. My hypothesis is that I can use infrared LED's of different wavelengths as a more affordable option compared to a commercial NIRS spectroscope that costs around $50,000 dollars. This is so I can have a more affordable and scalable system that would allow researchers to be able to cover more of the ocean floor quickly. 

An innovative part of my ROV is that it does all of the chemical analysis in-situ, as opposed to having to collect samples. The reason why this is good, is because instead of having to take the samples out of the water, and take them all the way to a lab, I can just let the ROV do it, and this allows for much faster research. One key part of my system is the mathematical algorithm that is based on the pattern of the ratio of the absorption of plastics versus sand in different wavelengths of infrared light. My results, which I calibrated against some publicly available FT-IR data, are that you can see a clear difference between plastics versus metal, wood, or other organic chemical bonds such as those commonly found in materials such as seaweed, shellfish and other marine life. 

My conclusion is that I can use infrared LED's as a more efficient way of finding plastics in the ocean. I suspect that microplastics, which have a range of different densities, are very likely aggregating into specific areas, much like gold deposits in the bend of a river, or floating plastics congregate into certain areas of gyres, and the Great Pacific Garbage patch on top of the ocean. If these ocean floor plastic repositories can be identified and categorized, then it will make the job of cleaning them up significantly easier, and much more financially feasible. 

In a future phase of this project, I would like to develop an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) that utilizes my algorithm as part of the training model for machine learning for the system that can then pinpoint exactly where microplastics are aggregating along the ocean floor. Then these AUV's could optionally be deployed using swarming technology, that would be able to conduct faster spatial mapping of target regions, and use that information to inform the best way of cleaning the microplastics up.

Anna Du


Bio: Anna Du is twelve years old and attends Andover School of Montessori. This is her first year attending the science fair, and she did so because she loves marine mammals and other marine life. She's a big fan of both science and engineering and has attended ID Tech education camp every summer as well as attending engineering workshops at MIT Edgerton Center since she was five. She often travels with her family to Europe and Beijing, which is where her roots are, though she was born in Miami, near the ocean. She loves to visit the coastline all along New England. Her hobbies include ice skating, gardening, violin, and reading -- and one of her newest favorite books is My Friend, Salt. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Just in Time for Summer!

Our Fluke Canvas Bag makes a great summer beach tote and can also be used at the grocery store for shopping or for traveling.

Made of 100% Earth-friendly cotton
 and Mr. Koda approved. 

Design includes 10 humpback whales flukes with the name of the individual below. Each humpback whale is studied by researchers in the Gulf of Maine and this information is helping us better understand and protect this protected species.

Our newest high school intern, Maddie, modeling her bag. 

This is a one-of-a-kind item only available on through NECWA.

To purchase your tote today, go to the NECWA Store using the link to the right of this posting.

Volunteering for the Earth Day Clean Up 2018

Paige at Buzzards Bay Recreation Area
Photo Credit: John Pribilla

On April 21, 2018, as part of my internship at the Cape Cod Canal with the US Army Corp. of Engineers, I had the opportunity to volunteer for their Earth Day celebration. This annual celebration was hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, organized by AmeriCorps Cape Cod, and was held at the Buzzards Bay Recreation Area. I assisted with the set-up for the event, and while I was working, I had the time to review a few of the organization’s earth-friendly themed displays. The one display that caught my attention the most was what happens to discarded litter over time. The poster demonstrated the length of time it took for various types of trash to decompose in the natural environment. I was surprised at how long it takes to break down common items to their base elements, such as monofilament line, Styrofoam cups, tin cans, six pack can holders, drinking straws, and plastic bags.

Marine Debris from the Cape Cod Canal Clean-up
Photo Credit: USACE

Every time I picked up monofilament line during my day at the clean-up, I thought of the line being tangled around a seabird. When I picked up a 6-pack plastic can holder, I envisioned it getting caught around marine life or seabirds possibly making them choke or causing immense pain. As I disposed of a plastic bag, I imagined a sea turtle mistaking it for a jellyfish and dying after eating it. When I picked up a crushed and broken lobster trap, I thought of the lobsters that were left to die in the discarded trap and the other animals that might have gotten trapped inside or crushed by the weight of the broken metal. As I picked up the tangled and broken lines and buoys, I imagined all the marine life that would have been entangled in the lines.  

Ghost Pot with Trapped Live Lobster
Photo Credit: USACE

The question is; what can we do to make a difference? There are a few things we can do to help right now. For starters, we can eliminate trash from the environment. This may seem impossible, but if everyone picks up at least one piece of trash every day, it will greatly impact what’s happening. By minimizing our plastic consumption, we can reduce the amount of contamination. Finally, we can reduce the amount of litter if we get rid of plastic altogether from our lives. With plastics gone from our world, there will be no need to worry about all the harm it can cause. Many places are switching to more environmentally friendly materials. Examples would be: grocery stores using paper bags instead of plastic, restaurants using cardboard boxes instead of plastic, and schools switching from plastic utensils to silverware. 
If we all do something to help, in time we will have a decrease in the use of plastics and the impact they have on the environment. If we continue to use more renewable and environmentally friendly products and materials, we will see an improvement in our future and our health for all creatures living on the Earth. I believe there is still hope for my generation to have a cleaner, healthier, and happier environment.

-  Paige
Paige Pribilla; Natural Resource Intern; Cape Cod Canal 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Where are the North Atlantic right whale babies?

right whale
Photo credit: NECWA
No North Atlantic right whale calves were born in 2018. At least none were seen in the southeast waters off South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, the only known calving grounds for this species. In 2017, only five calves were born, down from counts of 15 to more than 35 between 2001 and 2011.
Maybe the right whale moms weren’t healthy enough or well-nourished enough to give birth to and nurse a calf, saving their energy for a year when they and the calves would be more likely to survive. Maybe the stress and physical wear from entanglements in fishing line has increased the time right whale mothers need to wait after raising one baby to have another. Maybe we didn’t see them. Whatever the case, this is bad for the right whale’s future. Since 1986, when researchers began counting the number of calves each year, there has never been a year with no calves.

To read more about right whales, click HERE for a short review by Dr. Scott Krauss from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, at the New England Aquarium. 
Photo credit:NECWA
The total number of adult female North Atlantic right whales that can breed is less than 100. Imagine if there were less than 100 women left on the planet that could have babies. Our species would be facing extinction, which is exactly what the right whales are facing.

The good news is that lots of people, scientists, fishermen, politicians, lawmakers, and the pubic want to save the North Atlantic right whale. The US government requires that fishermen and ships follow many measures to reduce right whale entanglements and ship strikes. However, one right whale already died in US waters this year from entanglement, which is one whale too many.

The US government needs to continue working with fishermen and the shipping industry to develop and implement industry practices that fully protect the right whale. Solutions are being developed which will drastically increase right whale protections while continuing to allow businesses to keep operating.

Photo credit: NECWA
One of these solutions is ropeless fishing gear, which would allow the lobster and crab fisheries to retrieve their traps using an acoustic release system. Another area of gear development is using rope that is weaker than current ropes. Research shows that entanglements in these ropes are less deadly than those that occur with normal rope. Less rope in the water will help all marine organisms, including other whale species, seals, and turtles that could be caught in fishing rope. The commercial lobster industry, NGOs, scientists, and technology companies are working together to develop this gear on a commercial scale.

To take action to help save the North Atlantic right whale, YOU can call/write/twitter/snapchat/e-mail etc. your Senators and Congresspeople and ask them to:

Support funding for testing and implementation of ropeless fishing gear and weak breaking rope, including funds to help fishermen buy the best available whale safe gear.

Provide permits to fishermen to test whale safe gear, and once whale safe gear is ready to implement on a commercial scale, permit ropeless fishing in all fishing areas, including both state and federal areas.

Require all fishermen to use the best available whale safe gear.

Maintain and expand ship speed regulations in areas where right whales are found.

Protect the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and other environmental laws which provide legal protection for ocean resources.

Photo credit: NECWA
North Atlantic right whales have returned from the brink of extinction before. After they were whaled, only a few hundred individuals remained. They might be able to recover again, but they need our help and they need it now. If another 17 North Atlantic right whales die in 2018, their risk of going extinct will be even higher.

Right whales face stress, injury, and mortality from a range of industrial activities, including oil and gas exploration and development, wind turbine construction, military exercises, changing ocean conditions, ship strikes, and entanglements. Up to 85% of right whale mortalities from 2010-2015 were from entanglements. Fortunately, humans can directly reduce one of the greatest threats to right whales – by getting the ropes out of the water. The solutions already exist, we just need to refine, require, and implement them. If you want to help, you can – exercise democracy and tell your representatives on Capitol Hill what’s on your mind.

Let’s celebrate the summer by helping to save the whales,


                                                                                             Photo credit: Ingrid Biedron