The Fatal Shore, Awash in Plastic

Posted on August 26, 2012 by DrRossH in Plastic & Wildlife

The Fatal Shore, Awash in Plastic –

The horror resides mostly in the stomachs of young seabirds, primarily Laysan and black-footed albatrosses. The parents feed their young chicks by regurgitating food into their mouths, food they’ve gathered at sea that includes nurdles, bottle caps, pieces of fish nets, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters.

“That’s our stuff there,” Mr. Jordan said. “Our stuff we use every day.”

Endangered green turtles and Hawaiian monk seals on Midway gobble the stuff, too, thinking it’s food.

Even though Midway is 2,000 miles from any substantial piece of land, the plastic finds its way there. The mature albatrosses scoop up the plastic bits off the water, drawn to the colorful pieces thinking they’re actual food or tiny fish. They then unwittingly deliver the regurgitated food mass, called a bolus, into the throats of their chicks.

“Ingestion of debris may cause a blockage in the digestive tract, perforate the gut, result in a loss of nutrition (due to displacement of food), or cause a false feeling of being ‘full,’ ” said a fact sheet from the Marine Debris Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.