1200 miles from civilization, birds die from eating man-made plastic

An amazing video from Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, showing the effects of man-made garbage on albatross’ living 1,200 miles away from civilization.

This mini-video is apparently part of a larger movie.

Midway’s Albatross’ are dying, in huge numbers, because of man-made garbage that’s floated across the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles. The garbage accumulates in huge fields in the middle of this ocean. The field affecting the birds of Midway is called the Great Pacific Garbage patch:

It is thought that, like other areas of concentrated marine debris in the world’s oceans, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region.

The size of the patch is unknown, as large items readily visible from a boat deck are uncommon. Most debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. Instead, the size of the patch is determined by sampling. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean), or, in some media reports, up to “twice the size of the continental United States”.  Such estimates, however, are conjectural based on the complexities of sampling and the need to assess findings against other areas.

That garbage is afflicting every single bird on Midway – there are 1.5 million albatrosses – and killing 1/3 of all the chicks born.

Midway Atoll receives substantial amounts of marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Of the 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses that inhabit Midway, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system. Of the approximately one-third of the chicks that die, many of them are due to being fed plastic from their parents.

The images of the birds’ remains from the video are startling and gruesome:

abatross-midway-atoll

 

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As noted, the video needs a much better description, but nonetheless, it’s important.  The intro is far too long, so bear with it.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • hollywoodstein

    I think the fact there are now only five comments, is the biggest comment of all.

  • Kalil Chernov

    I actually was just in Midway a couple months ago. While I don’t doubt that the ‘great garbage patch’ is a factor, the entire island is an enormous garbage dump. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the trash (I was more interested in the wildlife and history), but here’s a couple pictures that show some of the mess, as well as the amazing quantity of birds:

    https://plus.google.com/photos/100504294347207466196/albums/5847999687265044001?authkey=CNfY17elxaigkgE

  • cole3244

    when we humans eventually drive ourselves into extinction this will be a better planet for all the species left behind, i won’t see that inevitability but it will happen and i smile just thinking about that day as do all the other species here on earth.

  • Zorba

    Planned obsolescence and disposables. It means more money for businesses, after all. And aren’t we all about more money for businesses? Despite the harm to the environment, our fellow creatures, and also, ultimately, humans, as well. Profits above all, Sweetie! Profits.
    Absolutely disgusting. :-(

  • Sweetie

    My 42″ plasma TV is smaller than the 60″ TVs that I keep seeing on special. I think I need to get a bigger one, don’t you?

    Apple says my iPad is obsolete. The company won’t upgrade the operating system. I guess I need to upgrade.

    My favorite Indian restaurant uses disposable dishes (plastic forks/knives/spoons, styrofoam cups, paper plates and bowls). I keep going there because they food is good. They do a lot of business!

    Apple buried 12,000 Lisa computers in a landfill to get a tax write-off during the Reagan administration. I’m sure school children were better off.

    and on and on and on

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