Photo Uploaded: Nov 17 2007 02:54:21 GMT Taken: 2007:01:02 14:54:13 Manufacturer: Sony Camera: DSC P72 Aperture: F5.6 Shutter: 10/4000 sec ISO: 100 Flash: No
What is inside... A Baby Albatross
I was browsing through my Midway Atoll photos and rediscovered this somewhat disturbing photo. In sharp contrast to photos like these http://www.fotothing.com/Pueo/photo/bb70e4fa54017126f7ad3da41ef9baf4/start=92 ... come May-June many of the Albatross fledglings are trying out their wings and attempting to leave the atoll. Many of them make it. Many of them don't. There are various reasons why an albatross fledgling may fail. One of them may simply be plastic. Albatross parents feed their young various seafood that they fly miles out into the ocean to gather. Researchers have found this food includes squid, fish eggs, and probably other sea life not yet identified. What is known, however, is that in the process of gathering food for their chicks, the albatross parents also inadvertently get plastic as well. The plastic is fed to the chicks and if the chicks are getting less seafood than plastic they essentially starve with a full belly of plastic. Some chicks survive even up until getting ready to fly but if they are unable to regurgitate the plastic that has gathered in their stomachs they may fail to ever fly and starve to death that way too.
As you can see from this albatross carcass, (see at original size) the garbage picked up can include almost anything that is plastic: pens, toothrbushes, bottle caps, lighters, fishing floats, oyster spacers, and even small toys. I actually found a plastic top, dice, and a plastic army man.
What is causing this? The plastics found in seabirds are a symptom of a much larger problem. Plastic garbage, tons and tons of it, cover a large area of the North Pacific Ocean. This area, estimated by some as twice the size of Texas, goes by many names including the North Pacific Gyre, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and Trash Vortex. Much of the floating plastic garbage from around the Pacific ends up there because of prevailing ocean currents.
View an interactive animation of the Garbage Patch:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/trashing-our-oceans/ocean_pollution_animation The sun may break the plastic down into smaller and smaller pieces but even if the pieces are small they cannot be broken down and used as nutrients for anything living.
The plastic garbage patch continues to grow and poses serious threats to the world's oceans including turtles, seabirds, fish, jellyfish and other sea life. Ocean debris is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.
It appears the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may actually be looking into getting at least some of the debris cleaned up:
What can we do?
1) Encourage our government officials to address possibly cleaning up some of the garbage. The long term consequences to sea life and ocean commerce could be threatened by this ever growing problem.
2) Buy biodegradable: Many new plastic containers including plastic cups, deli take-home containers, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, and plates are being made out of corn, potato starch, sugarcane fiber other biocompostible materials. Ask the businesses you frequent to use them instead of petroleum based plastic. World Centric is one company that sells them: http://www.worldcentric.org/bio/index.htm
3) Recycle: By recycling plastic you can prevent it from getting into the waste stream and the ocean. You'll be reducing energy use and carbon emissions too.
4) Don't litter: Obviously we shouldn't throw garbage directly into the ocean. What may not be obvious is that garbage dropped on the street could end up in storm drains and end up in the ocean. People could also throw garbage into inland lakes and streams and those could also eventually end up in to ocean. So don't litter. Your bottle cap could end up in a bird thousands of miles and many years later.
This is a slightly different take on my current theme "What is inside". I will be be uploading various "take apart" photos every so often. I'll be tagging them "whatisinside" so you can find them at: http://www.fotothing.com/tag/whatisinside
BTW- if you have any interesting "inside" views tag your photos "whatisinside" too. I'd love to see them.