This year’s Birdhouse Comment of the Year nod goes to reader BBT, who commented on the recent post More Plastic Than Plankton, re: the intractable mess caused by a century of plastic products making their way to the world’s oceans.
I chose BBT’s comment because, to me, it represented the apotheosis of Dan Gilmor’s citizen journalism credo, “Our readers know more than we do.” I read a couple of articles and watched a video on plastics in the ocean, while BBT has been in the trenches, removing the stuff and seeing the damage it causes with his own eyes and hands. Most weblog comments flesh out entries in a way that’s just not possible with traditional media; BBT’s comment did that extremeley well.
While I was at the Midway Atoll during the summer of 2001 I found it very disheartening to be on patrol for plastics. We had as an ecotourism organization (the midwayphoenix.com company) and a subcontractor to the Dept. of the Interior for maintainance of the island atoll must clean it up regularly. One time I remember heading from Sand Island (the main island of the Atoll) to Eastern and Spit islands to do shoreline cleanup. At times we had 20-30 *tons* of material to gather up on the shore. Those were light duty also. The volume of stuff in the ocean is flabbergasting to even those prepared for the shock of it. I remember seeing the small Albatros chicks dead and rotting in the nests from lack of food. Not that their parenting birds didn’t try. They simply mistook the plastics in the ocean for squid, and regurgitated that back to the chicks which promptly thought they were full but starved to death due to the plastics not passing out. What was often left in the nests were just a ball of small plastic items. Quite sad indeed.
7 Replies to “Comment of the Year”
Thought you may find it interesting that someone else of bigger name and funds has publically come out in the past and present with documentation about the problem. The photos pretty much tell the story I wrote about in your journal/blog.
Follow up to this and other posts in your blog about plastics in the oceans. I’m pleased to see coverage, sad to see it take so long to have folks doing ‘research’ on something that is clearly a problem and recognized so long ago as such.
I thought this image would tell a story better than my words of a few years ago. The problem continues to grow at an alarming rate. Please continue to spread the word about using no plastic products, and that the oceans of the world should not be our petroleum dumping grounds. They are the lifeblood of the planet.
12 years after my visit for a summer, and 6 years since I posted my thoughts about it all to your blog, the public now has this…
So painful to watch, BBT. Thanks for the follow-up.
Another related issue to birds in the ocean environment, this time startlingly clear… The Oceans of the world are ‘dead’.