Saturday, June 27, 2009

Walk it Off

So, it's tough out there for the Albatross. Foraging bouts lasting days and covering thousands of miles, stormy seas, tiger sharks etc.

However, we the capitalist Uber-consumers make it worse. Much Worse.

This Albatross chick is surrounded by Vebensina sp, an invasive that was introduced during the European invasion of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The plant grows fast in the summer creating a canopy around the chicks. This has several consequences:

1) Parents may have a difficult time finding and feeding their chicks
2) Nesting density in decreased in areas with the invasive plant. This is a big deal when the
nesting colonies are located on islands that are only a few acres in size.
3) Chicks like this one are not able to stretch, and flap their wings. This practice is crucial for
chicks that have a chance of fledging.

This particular chick was daylighted during an intensive ecological restoration effort. (weed pull)

Another problem associated with the European Invasion is the Mosquito. They spread avian pox, which although not usually lethal has the potential to deform the eyes and beaks of infected chicks. The Albatross did not evolve with this pressure, and have no natural defence. Occupation of these remote atolls by people increases the pooling of fresh water (in our piles of garbage), and in turn the number of mosquitos.

Albatross eat our plastic. This decomposing carcass is barely recognizable. It will soon turn to dust. The plastic will be there forever, maybe even be consumed by a curious chick that is unfortunate enough to walk by.

All Albatross eject a bolus before they fledge. Alot like an owl pellet, it contains the undigestible parts of their diet. Things like squid beaks. There is one squid beak visible in this bolus which is comprised mainly of plastic. The Albatross whos cause of death is known to be plastic impaction have an average of 1.5 oz. of plastic in their system. The average amount of plastic in an Albatross that fledges from Midway is 1.0 oz.

Albatross eat squid, flying fish eggs etc. These things float on the surface of water like plastic. This stuff was all brought to Midway by Albatross parents.

So was this stuff.

And this stuff. SO, I think to myself, I don't throw my garbage in the ocean, I am not resposible for this. Then I remember that awesome seared Mahi Mahi I had once, and think about the fisherman I support who does throw his garbage in the Ocean. Ever taken a cruise, before recent legislation, they threw all their crap overboard too. Ever shop at Walmart. Capsized cargo vessels on their way from Asia to the U.S. heavily supplement the plastic eaten by the Albatross. Childrens toys for example are unusually common.

This unfortunate chick is one of many called "droop wings". They have lead poisoning from eating the lead paint chips peeling off the "historic" navy buildings left over from the war days. It will not survive. It has been estimated it would cost the government around 4-5million dollars to fix this problem permanately by removing the lead paint. Lets take a moment to think about what we currently spend our tax dollars on. Remember "Shock and Awe"? God Bless America!

To end on a positive note. Many Albatross like this black-foot will survive, live for decades, and possibly provide some of the inspiration for the change we need.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post Zack I think if everyone could be responsable to protect our enviroment we could have been in a paradise on earth.