The ocean is vast. It’s my favorite place to hunt. I dive quickly to pick up the tiny fish close to the surface. In the distance, I can see a vast island of teeming fish. My babies are hungry for their breakfast, so I fly as fast as I can toward the mass. I swoop down without even thinking and skim the top of the water. The feeling in my beak is new. It feels like I am getting poked by a thousand needles, and the taste is, well, just off. My chicks are waiting, so I hurry back to the nest with my bounty. My chicks greedily take the food from my beak, but they seem to struggle to eat it. Some of them choke on the food. I continue to feed them regardless because I know they need food to survive. However, throughout the coming days, they never seemed to get full. I remember last season when all of my chicks passed away from starvation, even though I fed them again and again from the huge floating mass.
Hundreds of thousands of albatross babies are poisoned, choked, or suffer from deadly blockages each year because a massive collection of garbage is floating in the Pacific Ocean, creating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . It is over twice the size of the state of Texas and is increasing in size exponentially. The debris is made up of 99.9% plastic. It contains about 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic and weighs about as much as 500 jet airplanes . Most of the plastic comes from beach trash that has drifted from the shore and been sucked up by the currents. That means that most of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are large pieces of debris, including hard plastics such as plastic food containers, bottles, lids, buckets, ropes, and fishing nets. These larger items make up more than 75% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Items like these can sit in the ocean for hundreds of years, but more importantly, they are poisoning and killing marine life at an alarming rate. According to a Greenpeace article on preventing plastic pollution, the best way to reduce plastic pollution is to refuse one-use plastic items whenever possible. Stop using plastic straws, lids, bags, and other single-use plastic containers. Companies must adopt environmentally friendly packaging like reusable bags, cups, water bottles, and straws. Decreasing the number of plastic packaging options for consumers will slow the growth rate of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This will help protect ocean wildlife, such as the albatross, that depend on the ocean for food. They will be less likely to consume plastic and other harmful materials if companies stop producing packaging made of those materials. It will take years of combined efforts to clean up and prevent the pollution of our oceans, but with the increase in production of environmentally friendly packaging and a focus on refusing plastic packaging, the amount of pollution in the oceans will slow. The albatross will eventually be able to skim the ocean for food without the fear of bringing dangerous plastic waste to her babies.
Essay by: Sydney Klocek
Perry High School