The Blog Aquatic » albatross http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 “Midway” Film Answers Plastic Pollution Question “Why Care?” http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/12/midway-film-answers-plastic-pollution-question-why-care/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/12/midway-film-answers-plastic-pollution-question-why-care/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 13:20:57 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6633 albatross chick

Photo: still from Chris Jordan’s “Midway”

Midway Atoll is truly “out there.” The closet population center is Honolulu, 1,200 miles to the southeast and a five-hour trip by plane. But despite its remoteness, Midway is not immune to the impacts of plastic debris.

Midway’s central position in the North Pacific Gyre makes it a sink for debris, which results in immense, daily accumulations on the island’s sandy beaches. This collection of debris—almost entirely plastics—threatens the endangered monk seals and sea turtles that inhabit Midway’s beaches and forage in the atoll’s shallow waters. Plastics that threaten the 1.5 million Laysan albatross on Midway, however, arrive in a different manner.

Each year, approximately 10,000 pounds of plastics are brought to Midway not by currents or wind, but in the stomachs of the birds themselves. Mothers and fathers forage at sea for weeks in search of fish eggs, squid and other prey in hopes of nourishing their newly hatched chicks that wait anxiously hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

All too often, adult albatross return to Midway not with nutrition from the sea but instead plastic bottle caps, cigarette lighters, fishing floats and colossal quantities of plastic fragments that float adrift in the North Pacific Ocean. Albatross chicks do not possess the ability to regurgitate; once consumed, these plastics often become fatal.

I witnessed the unintended consequences of plastics on Midway’s albatross firsthand in 2010, when my colleagues and I examined the impacts of plastics on the island’s fauna. Trekking around Midway, it was impossible to avoid plastics—colorful shapes and sizes speckled the ground while other types of plastic protruded from the guts of recently perished albatross chicks.

These lifeless forms rested only steps from the nests where their parents had diligently nurtured their newly hatched chicks; it was a stark reminder of the fine line between life and death on Midway Island.

Words alone do not suffice to accurately convey the severity of the impacts of plastics on Midway. Fortunately, Chris Jordan’s recent documentary, “Midway,” brings the sights, sounds and firsthand encounters with the concurrent beauty and distress of Midway to concerned citizens around the world.

Through stunning natural splendor and chilling visual testimony, “Midway” singlehandedly answers the plastic pollution question, “Why should we care?”

Perhaps an even more important question is “How do I help?” Join me and more than 500,000 other concerned citizens around the world on Sept. 21 to remove unsightly, unnecessary and destructive plastics from our beaches and waterways during the 28th annual International Coastal Cleanup.

There is one ocean. And that means even if you never travel to Midway, you can help ensure that the potentially harmful bottle caps, lighters and myriad other plastic debris items littering our beaches and waterways never arrive there either.

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“Midway” Film Tells Story of Plastics in Our Ocean Through Plight of Albatross http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/28/midway-film-tells-story-of-plastics-in-our-ocean-through-plight-of-albatross/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/28/midway-film-tells-story-of-plastics-in-our-ocean-through-plight-of-albatross/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 20:23:35 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5307

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

Artist Chris Jordan is best known for his large-scale images that deconstruct huge numbers while making a statement about our mass consumption habits. For example, the tiny pieces of plastic in “Gyre” represent the pounds of plastic that enter the world’s ocean.

Jordan’s latest project, “Midway,” is a feature-length film that expands on the plastic pollution problem by focusing on the plastic fragments that fill up albatross stomachs as they try to feed in the open ocean. Scientists estimate that 4.5 metric tons of plastic arrive on Midway Atoll every year in the stomachs of the albatross.

The trailer includes some disturbing images of dead and dying birds, but as the narrator says, “Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time and allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transforms us and our future?” We can only hope the answer is “yes.”

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Check Out Ocean Conservancy’s New Logo http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/11/check-out-ocean-conservancys-new-logo/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/11/check-out-ocean-conservancys-new-logo/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 22:57:34 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4563 Ocean Conservancy redesigned logoI’m excited to unveil Ocean Conservancy’s new and improved logo identity. This vibrant redesign includes adding new key species that help us better connect to the ocean and wildlife we protect.

As the multimedia designer, I make sure that the new logo stays true to our mission and pushes us forward as a leading voice in ocean conservation.

At first glance, you may not notice many changes, but there are a few key modifications:

  • We reduced the size of the wave graphic in the logo to make room for additional species, such as a school of fish.
  • We decreased the number of colors represented in the logo.
  • We updated the font style.
  • We added an albatross to make the connection between land and sea.

Why make these changes? Director of Conservation Science Stan Senner explains, “At Ocean Conservancy, we take pride in approaching our work with an eye to the whole ecosystem, so it’s important to us that our logo reflects that.”

The albatross, for example, is an important and highly recognizable member of the ocean ecosystem, and including it in the logo reminds us that not all of the animals depending on the ocean live beneath the surface.

Similarly, the school of fish we added is a great reminder that our ocean is nature’s farmers market. More than 2.6 billion people rely on the ocean as a primary source of protein. And healthy food from our ocean means a healthy planet.

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Plight of Albatross Inspires Scientist to Clean Up Beaches http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/10/plight-of-albatross-inspires-scientist-to-clean-up-beaches/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/10/plight-of-albatross-inspires-scientist-to-clean-up-beaches/#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2012 20:09:59 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2185 Albatross on Midway Atoll

Credit: Nick Mallos

How do scientists choose their life’s work? For avid surfer Nick Mallos, a love of the ocean made marine biology an easy choice. But it was a black-and-white bird with a 6-foot wingspan that inspired him to focus his research on marine debris and clean up as many beaches as he can.

Nick first encountered the Laysan albatross during a grad school research trip to Midway Atoll in the North Pacific. With over 450,000 nesting pairs, Midway Atoll is home to the largest Laysan population in the world. The birds cover the 2.4 square-mile area, nesting in every available nook, from abandoned WWII gun turrets to grassy cracks in the pavement.

But once you look beyond those birds, “you realize there’s this scattering of plastic over the entire island,” Nick says. “It’s impossible to not see plastic – it’s just everywhere. The most perverse part of it is that it’s most heavily concentrated around every nest.”

Plastic fragments in a dead albatross skeleton

Credit: Nick Mallos

That’s because most of the plastic on the island arrives in the gullets of the adult albatross who accidentally ingest it while fishing at sea. Then they regurgitate that food-and-plastic mixture when feeding their chicks. Scientists estimate that some 4.5 metric tons of plastic arrive on the island every year in the stomachs of the albatross.

“It’s just very surreal being in this beautiful environment where the waters are as turquoise blue as you can imagine and the beaches are pure white, and then you see this array of unnatural color across the island, which is all plastics,” Mallos says.

The inner core of the island is littered with small, fragmented plastics like bottle caps, toothbrushes and cigarette lighters – all carried there by the birds.

“I was 1,200 miles from Oahu, the nearest urban center, and there were consumer products everywhere,” Mallos says. “I could have outfitted an entire bathroom cabinet with what I saw there.”

That realization really got him thinking about the full scale of the ocean trash issue. Six months later, he joined Ocean Conservancy as a marine debris specialist and has since worked to better understand how trash affects our ocean and how we can prevent it from reaching our beaches in the first place.

What motivates you to participate in beach cleanups?

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