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”. ┬áSuch 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:

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


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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