Can A Seagull Educate People?

Goffinet McLaren with her education ambassador Sullie. Illustration of Sullie and all his friends were created by June J. Jordan. Photo provided by Goffinet McLaren.

My brother and I are always on the lookout for superheroes who can help us bring environmental and animal conservation education to more youth around the world.

Along the way, we met an amazing author and ocean advocate by the name of Goffinet McLaren, who is originally from Ireland. We managed to catch up with Mrs. Goffinet recently and I asked her to share her work with our readers. This is what she had to say:


Meet Sullie Seagull, our new superhero.

As he grows older, Sullie has watched plastic litter destroying his precious Turtle Beach and threaten the lives of his ocean friends.

He decided that something had to be done. So Sullie sends out tweets, IMs and emails to his many friends around the world, calling them into action.

He recruits Speedy Sandpiper, Plonkie Pelican, Eddo Eagle, and Allo Albatross to join his Secret Society of Birds. The bird mission is to teach thoughtless humans about the terrible environmental damage caused to the beach, and Sullie’s ocean pals, by their plastic litter.

For decades, humans have treated the oceans as a convenient graveyard for “stuff” that was discarded. Much of this stuff is plastic, which lasts forever. Humans leave it lying around or throw it away. Most of it eventually flows into the ocean from rivers and storm drains or washes off our beaches with an outgoing tide.

This is one of the new coloring pages by acclaimed artist June J. Jorden that will be in the new Sullie book. Photo provided by Goffinet McLaren

Working together, Sullie’s team embarks on a series of fun-filled, exciting adventures to educate these thoughtless humans. Through their clever schemes, they teach humans about the consequences of doggies dropping doo-doo on the beach; the danger of leaving cigarette butts, plastic toys, and fireworks debris on the beach; and dangers from plastic bags.

They even convince Phil Phoney, owner of The Big Plastic Bag Company in Florida, to stop making plastic bags! Phil witnessed Sullie’s little granddaughter Sullina’s wing entrapped by one of his cheap plastic bags.


  • “I cheered Sullie on the entire time, as chapter by chapter, Sullie and his secret society take on a different challenge at the beach, from plastics to doggie doo-doo.”
  • “Children, will laugh with, learn from, and love the characters as they get a bird’s-eye view on human environmental impacts.”
  • “A delightful uplifting story about a very serious subject—the health of our world’s oceans.”


Sullie started his campaign to save our oceans from plastic litter almost four years ago. Today he has friends actively fighting plastic litter in countries as far apart as Australia, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, and England.

And in his free time, Sullie is actively working on his new coloring book that will appeal to even more kids around the world. He understands how important it is to teach younger kids about helping to save our environment, and if you would like to tell Sullie what you are doing to help, just email him at

Here is more about Mrs. Goffinet:

Goffinet McLaren

This is the cover of Sullie’s first book. Illustration by June J. Jordan. Image provided by Goffinet McLaren

Carter and I love Sullie’s stories so much we bring the book to every school we teach our Plastic and Recycling Awareness Curriculum to, and the students love it as well. Teachers will read one or two chapters each day to the students and by the end of the week, we know Sullie has captured their hearts and helped each one become more environmentally conscious.

Stay tuned for the next installment about Sullie and his team of feathered and furry environmental educators! Sullie Saves the Seas, available at

Sullie Saves the Seas is a student favorite at every school where we teach our Plastic and Recycling Awareness Curriculum. Photo provided by

Here are some of the interview questions I had for Mrs. Goffinet and Sullie:

  • Sullie has a great way of gathering his friends to educate people about the problem. How could readers learn from this when they too are looking at solving problems in their community?
    Readers can take a lead by forming their own secret societies and using their social media devices to “chirp,” “cheep,” and “chitter” to everyone about the problems caused by plastic litter. Make sure they all hear that Plastic is Drastic.
  • Why do you think the issue of plastic pollution is getting worse?
    Capt. Charles Moore was one of the first people to become aware of plastic litter in the oceans. In 1997, he measured 6 times more plastic than plankton. In 2009, he measured 36 times more plastic than plankton. They say you don’t care about something you don’t know about, and unfortunately, most people have never had the opportunity to learn how severe the problem is or how much they are contributing to the issue. We need to make environmental education mandatory in every school.
  • What can readers do to make a difference?
    Readers can do many things to make a difference. To start with, be aware of the 4 R’s—Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and most importantly REFUSE disposable plastic. Simply say “NO THANK YOU: I do not use disposable plastic.” Carry your own shopping bags, water bottle, cup, cutlery, plate and even get a reusable drinking straw.
This is a coloring page from Sullie’s new book, illustrated by June J. Jordan. Photo provided by Goffinet McLaren.
  • Have you ever heard about “Flush Puppies“? They are the only truly biodegradable bags for picking up dog poop which you actually flush down the toilet. Do you think we could ever get beaches everywhere to offer dispensers of “Flush Puppies” so more dog owners could pick up after their dogs and feel good about disposing of them properly?
    I was not aware of “Flush Puppies” but after looking at the website, the bags look like a very good idea.
  • How bad of an issue have plastic straws been on the beach? My brother and I will be launching a “One Less Straw Pledge Campaign” in October. Do you think restaurant owners would be willing to help?
    Plastic straws are one of the worst plastic products that are strewn on our beaches. I saw a video with a plastic straw stuck in a turtle’s nostril. Restaurant owners would definitely be willing to help if they understood the devastating effects on animals. Sullie will add plastic straws to his next lesson.
  • Sullie and his gang are doing a great job spreading the word about how our actions are harming our environment and so many animals. What does Sullie have in store for us in the future?
    Sullie is already busy working on his new story/ coloring book which will help illustrate the problems caused by plastic litter.
  • Sullie, is there anything else that you would like to say?
    Yes, just remember to leave ONLY your footprints on the beach

As you can see, Sullie and his friends are doing a great job and now each one of you can do the same thing by telling your friends about the problem we are causing for our environment and our animals. You can also buy the book and donate it to your local school so Sullie can reach out to more students and help them understand that they do have the power to be the solution to the issue of plastic pollution.

Goffinet and her husband Ian on the beach at Pawley’s Island in South Carolina. Photo provided by Goffinet McLaren

Stay tuned next week as we feature a truly amazing and inspirational artist and animal activist, Asher Jay.

Olivia Ries is our National Geographic Society Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too.” Make sure to check out their TEDxYouth presentation along with their website at and also ‘LIKE’ their FaceBook page as well 😉

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