The Blog Aquatic » documentary 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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What Does Your Trash Say About You? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/04/what-does-your-trash-say-about-you/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/04/what-does-your-trash-say-about-you/#comments Wed, 04 Jul 2012 14:00:10 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1449

Volunteers pull a tire out of the water during Ocean Conservancy's 2009 International Coastal Cleanup in Athens, Greece. -- © Gerasimos Domenikos / Aurora Photos

Some people say “we are what we eat,” but maybe what we throw away is just as telling.

In profiling the film “Raw Material” about the garbage pickers of Athens, writer Jennifer Hattam points out how life has changed for these scavengers now that the entire country is facing an economic crisis:

In the shadow of the Acropolis, they set off before dawn. Men and boys driving rusty trucks, pushing heavy hand-carts, towing wagons behind battered motorcycles. As the city slowly comes to life, they are already well into their day’s work, scouring alleys and Dumpsters for old box-spring mattresses, appliances, car parts, anything they can salvage and sell at a scrap yard for a few dollars a day.

Many Athens residents have been struggling to get by since economic and political crisis erupted in Greece, threatening to engulf much of Europe. But the estimated 80,000 Athenians who collect and process scrap in the city’s informal economy were eking out their meager livings back when the rest of the city was still living large.

Having more people share their woes has made times even tougher for the garbage pickers, who remain at the margins of Greek society and face increased competition for shrinking resources. [Filmmaker Christos] Karakepelis says two or three times as many people are now picking over smaller and smaller pieces of trash as sharply reduced consumption by the middle class means fewer bonanzas like old refrigerators left out in the street.

In some ways, the trash in Athens (or lack thereof, in this case) illustrates a surprisingly complete story about an entire country’s economic well-being. As Karakepelis puts it, society’s “failure to consider the plight of some of its poorest urban dwellers may have blinded it to early warning signs of broader problems in Greece.”

Could we apply this idea to the trash in our ocean? What could we learn from analyzing what ends up there? What does your own trash say about you?

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