Although his film highlights the ubiquity of plastic, Jordan insists Albatross isn’t purely about plastic pollution; it’s about our broken relationship with planet Earth. Q: Why do some birds eat plastic? If this chick had survived, it could have lived a long time. The most common objects found in boluses tend to be those that are lightweight and buoyant, including cigarette lighters, bottle caps and fishing line. Photo by Steven Siegel, Marine-Photobank. Shearwater chicks were not examined. But as the atoll’s youngsters spread their wings and shed their wispy gray down feathers, they leave behind something else: plastic — and tons of it. But they’re feeding them sharp, toxic plastic because they have mistaken it for multicoloured squid or cuttlefish near the surface of the ocean; it’s horrendous.”, Hosking remembers scientists collecting toothbrushes, lighters, toys, bottletops, biros, even the fish-shaped soy sauce bottles that come with takeaway sushi: “It’s all stuff we use every day and it’s unbelievable what these birds can fit in their gullets – one had swallowed a whole inkjet cartridge.”, Jordan’s call to action is to love the albatross more: “I want people to watch this film and feel sadness and rage and realise that comes from a place of love. Or, rather, what looks like food: sometimes they catch floating plastic instead. Ocean plastic impacts a vast variety of animals, from tiny plankton to large vertebrates like fish, turtles and whales. What's left behind is the plastic. By Chris Jordan. (1997). This disgusting and otherworldly sight exists because we're throwing the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute. Jordan first visited Midway in September 2009, when the albatrosses were soaring above the waves, far out to sea – all he saw for two weeks were tens of thousands of dead chicks. These photos portray baby albatrosses, which are fed the plastic by their parents. On Midway Atoll, many albatross chicks are killed by lead poisoning, making it hard to separate the effects of the plastic from that of the lead. I also think you raise an important point about how difficult it is to regulate pollution of plastic into waterways that eventually make it to albatross habitats. According to Brown, it acts like "fingers of a comb," collecting tons of garbage on its beaches. Seabirds are at particular risk because of their surface-feeding habits. Laysan albatross chicks have the highest reported incidence and amount of ingested plastic of any seabird species. In 2007, she campaigned to make Modbury in Devon the UK’s first ever plastic bag-free town after she returned from filming these same albatrosses. He simply shines a light on the crisis facing the huge colonies of Laysan albatrosses on the remote Pacific island of Midway. We have to acknowledge that individuals cannot make a difference,” Jordan says. Yet today, that parental assistance is often harmful. “It’s shocking and morbid,” Holthuijzen said, “no matter how many times you see a dead chick.”. [1] Voluntary Plastic Bag Reductions Don’t Work (accessed March 25, 2015); available from, [1] California’s Rigid Plastic Packaging Container (RPPC) Program (accessed March 26, 2015); available from, [1] State Plastic and Paper Bag Legislation (accessed March 25, 2015); available from, Nicholas School Contact Directory > | Site Login >, ©2020 Nicholas School of the Environment | Duke University | Durham, NC, USA, Joint, Marginal and Conditional Probabilities,,,,, The anti-plastics movement has made progress since then but Hosking says there is still a long way to go: “Some might argue that traditional natural history films made since the 1970s haven’t worked – they haven’t triggered a revolution or dramatic change. Once you feel love, you can be more courageous and make more radical choices.”, Albatross is released nationwide on 22 April, During a 2016 clean-up effort, workers collected and removed 15,206 pounds of debris in just eight days. It lives on an island slowly being swallowed by storm surges and global warming. “They are loving, sensitive and graceful – when you look at any creature this closely, it becomes amazing,” says Jordan, who believes we would fall in love with any animal if we only stopped to look at them with a similar childlike sense of awe. Learn more about the sixth extinction and get involved. Unfortunately, this inludes marine debris as well; with an estimated 5 tons of plastic being accidently fed to chicks each year. The Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) is a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific.The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to 99.7% of the population. He kneels. A: Many seabirds mistake floating plastic debris for prey. The Laysan albatross, while a common species, has not yet recovered from the wide-scale hunting of the early 1900s, with feather hunters killing many hundreds of thousands and wiping them out from Wake Island and Johnston Atoll. Two of four adult albatross examined contained plastic in the gut. Therefore, rather than focusing on the regulation of point sources of pollution we should focus on ways to decrease consumption upstream, so to speak. "It's not good for them," Brown tells me. According to Beth Flint, a biologist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the biggest threats to Midway’s albatrosses are rising sea levels, increased storms and temperature changes. The oldest known wild bird is a 62-year old Laysan albatross named “Wisdom,” who still rears chicks on Midway Atoll. “Use of indicator chemicals to characterize the plastic fragments ingested by Laysan albatross.” This collection of photos, taken by artist Chris Jordan on Midway Atoll, a group of islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, show the decomposing carcasses of Laysan albatross chicks on the islands—and the plastic that will remain there far longer than their bones.

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