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Midway Atoll

March 27, 2012

I feel oddly drawn to the Midway Atoll. I’ve never been there, but first encountered it, and the story of human consumption that it tells, via Chris Jordan’s startling photographs (if you haven’t seen them, check them out here). Some of the photographs are devastating, but eye opening. Plastic pollution, swirling in the Pacific garbage patch, has taken a huge toll on the albatross population: chicks eat 5 tons of plastic a year, the main reason behind the 40% death rate. Instead of eating squid and fish eggs floating on the surface of the ocean, Albatross mistakenly eat tiny bits of plastic, everything from bottle caps to lighters, soccer balls, laundry baskets, polyethylene and polypropylene, Styrofoam, nylon and saran, and feed the debris to their chicks who starve to death.

Thinking about Midway can be truly depressing and yet the beaches, tropical water, and birds that inhabit the remote island make it paradisiacal. Jaymi Heimbuch recently took a number of photographs for Treehugger that portray the Atoll in a more romantic light, where one can imagine what the island might have looked like before plastic pollution. Check out the full slideshow of her instagram diary images here (and please note that the beach shown below is cleaned of plastic debris daily. Probably more than once a day.) Here are a couple of my favorites:

 

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