Thanks to Frans Lanting for the use of his albatross photograph (lanting.com).
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 percent of chicks had plastic in their stomachs. Many people think that the biggest source of pollution in the ocean 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 the ocean 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 it 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 HelpMake a donation
At the Aquarium
Video: Meet Makana
A beautiful Laysan albatross named Makana helps teach Aquarium visitors about the threats albatrosses face from plastic pollution.