Thursday, April 16, 2009


So. What is there to talk about today? As the great Pete Leary once said......."another beautiful day on Midway". I think that sums it up pretty well, and explains why he said it so often!

Oh, before I go on......I would like to thank everyone who has been kind enough to send care packages, letters, email, or just casual Myspace and Facebook means more to me than you know! It keeps me from finding a buoy, decorating it with a sharpie and naming it "Wilson". I think I'm going to get seriously into snailmail from now on; tangibility is the key.

Let's talk trash. Ive alluded to the problem before, but I think today is time to get to the heart of the thing.......deep into the barrel, as it were.

Laysan Albatross. You can see what it's last meals consisted of.

The North Pacific Gyre occupies much of the Pacific Ocean, roughly ten million square miles of it. To simplify, it is an amalgamation of various ocean currents to the north, south, east west, that result in a stable mass of water in the center. Basically, this stable area ends up being a refuge for manmade waste, primarily plastics, that have been dumped either legally or illegally from North America or Asia. Garbage collects here and stays floating on or near the surface, potentially for many years.

Yup.....theres nothing like the taste of a fresh razor in the morning.

The effects of this, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, on the environment are many. Big chunks of debris damage coral reefs, which could take decades to recover. Discarded and lost fishing nets continue to catch and kill fish pointlessly, and often end up entangling seabirds, sea turtles, seals, dolphins and whales, frequently drowning them or causing serious injuries. Wildlife, not having evolved with plastic floating around everywhere, will mistake it for food and ingest it, which could cause serious internal injuries or simply fill them up and thus cause animals to starve to death. Finally, plastic and other man-made materials do not degrade like normal compounds, and it is unknown what effect this has once it has entered the food chain (recall what DDT does to birds and what Mercury can do to people).

Here on Midway, we are well situated within the gyre to receive tons (literally) of crap washing up on the beaches and reefs all the time. It's pretty depressing. A lot if it is related to commercial fishing, and a lot of the debris, judging by the writing on it, indicates that it is from from Asia.....although I did find a bottle of Jagermeister in the harbor yesterday. Besides the occasional entangled monk seal or sea turtle, it is the albatross that seem to be most affected by this. Adult albatross will pick up all sorts of stuff to swallow, especially if there are fish eggs attached to it. They are able to throw up indigestible items usually, but if something gets stuck, is leaking chemicals, or cuts any internal organs, they likely wont make it. When they come back to the islands to feed their chicks, they will feed the plastic to them along with the fish and squid oil that the chicks are supposed to be getting. Once in a chick, plastic tends to stay there.....they haven't developed the reflex to get rid of it. Although the right studies have not been done about regarding this phenomenon, a lot of the chicks that dont make it have stomachs full of plastic when they die, and its pretty obvious that there is some connection here. If I fed a bunch of trash to a baby, I would not expect it to be very healthy either.......

The Patch will probably outlive all of us.....let's hope it won't outlive our children!

1 comment:

  1. It's enough to really piss you off...too people with too much garbage.