In the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, on a tiny island 1,000 miles from the nearest big city, many Laysan albatross chicks die each year because their bellies are full of bottle caps, toothbrushes and other plastic. One study found that 97.5% of chicks had plastic in their stomachs. Many people think that the biggest source of pollution in the oceans is oil spilled from ships, but most marine pollution is litter that starts out on land. By making changes now, we can reduce the amount of plastic that gets into our oceans in the months and years to come.
A Deadly Diet
Albatrosses fly hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles in search of food for their chicks. They look for squid and fish eggs floating on the surface of the water. Unfortunately, plastic floats, and Laysan albatross are particularly attracted to it. They eat it, mistaking if for food, then they fly back to the nest and feed bottle caps, lighters, fishing lures and other pieces of plastic to their young. The chicks starve to death, with stomachs full of plastic.
Trash that's dropped on the ground doesn't stay put. Even hundreds of miles from the ocean, trash is washed by rain into city storm drains and out into streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. From there, wind and currents carry our trash far out to sea. Scientists estimate that around the world, up to one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic. We can help keep trash from traveling by recycling and putting trash in trash cans.
How You Can Help
- Limit your use of disposable plastics, like plastic bags and water bottles.
- Carry your own reusable shopping bag and/or water bottle.
- Look for products made from recycled materials that have little or no packaging, or packaging that is recyclable.
- Try to avoid Styrofoam products—bring your own mug to the coffee shop, and a container for leftovers when you eat out.
- Know which plastics can be recycled in your city and recycle!
- Make sure all non-recyclable plastics are securely disposed of.
- Pick up trash on the street and put it in a trash can.
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At the Aquarium
Video: Meet Makana
A beautiful Laysan albatross called "Makana" helps teach Aquarium visitors about the threats albatrosses face from plastics pollution.
Albatross EncountersDon't miss a chance to see Makana, our beautiful Laysan albatross, up-close. Learn about this amazing bird and the global threats albatross face from plastics pollution. This 15-minute show takes place every day at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Kelp Forest exhibit.
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