Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

VIDEO: The Albatross and Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Recently, we reported that the Los Angeles City Council had unanimously decided to approve an ordinance that would tighten storm water regulations. It couldn’t have come too soon. Because with every wave of water that enters our storm drains, our trash goes along for the ride. Pictured above is a record of what happens to plastic waste once it sweeps into the Pacific.

In 2009, photographer Chris Jordan travelled to Midway Atoll, a small stretch of land near the middle of the North Pacific. Here, tens of thousands of albatross chicks die annually as their parents feed them a diet of plastic trash they bring back from the surrounding waters. As Jordan shares, “To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way.” These birds died nearly 2,000 miles from the nearest continent.

There is a critical mass of garbage circling our oceans. One of the more notable garbage dumps in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex and the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre. Roughly the size of Texas and containing 3.5 million tons of trash, the waste is trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. One advocacy group points out that “shoes, toys, bags, pacifiers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.” 

Plastic marine debris is through to affect at least 267 animal species worldwide.

Images courtesy of Chris Jordan.

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