Midway Atoll is one of the most remote places on earth. It is home to the majority of the world's Laysan Albatross and also a vast number of other birds and marine animals. Yet it has the misfortune of being near the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Tragically, as a result, many adult albatross have been mistaking the plastic floating in the ocean for food and have been feeding it to their chicks.
A number of artists including the wonderful Chris Jordan are chronicling how plastic is devastating the albatross population on Midway. They have been sharing what they have found on their blog Midway Journey (and on Twitter).
The videos and images are often difficult to look at. But so very important.
In this short clip (the trailer for the film that is being made of their journey), Chris says "I don't think we act until we feel something".
These images were front of mind for me when I made a trip to the seaside while in the UK last month. A walk along a seemingly clean beach, quickly revealed a large amount of plastic garbage. Mostly bottle caps and plastic netting but also straws and pieces of hard miscellaneous plastic. As soon as I saw the first piece, all I could think of was that if I don't pick this up, it could end up in one of those images choking the belly of a baby albatross. Immediately I picked up a plastic bag that I found on the ground and started filling it with plastic. My whole family pitched in. We kept picking up garbage until we couldn't fit any more in the bag.
Here's what we collected:
We tied the bag tightly and put it in the garbage can as we left. Obviously it isn't great that this is all going to a landfill but I am so pleased to have taken it away from the ocean. And the albatross chicks.
Thank you Midway Journey team for your courage and for bringing your images to us.