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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Albatross Adoption - To Benefit North Paciific Albatross

Laysan Albatross chick ready to fledge - Midway Atoll © W. Sentman
Oceanic Society has been bringing visiting to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (MANWR) since 1997.  Over that time, our travelers have become acutely aware of the impacts on wildlife of plastic pollution accumulating in our oceans. 
Oceanic Society visitor group Eastern Island Midway Atoll NWR
In spite of its remote location in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, Midway Atoll serves as the “poster child” for plastic pollution and the oceanic gyres that is concentrates in. As the atoll’s primary residents, and with feeding areas alongside these gyres, the Laysan and Black-footed albatross are seemingly the most impacted.  These seabirds are known to ingest some of the highest amounts of plastic of any seabird species. Adult albatross consume the plastic trash when foraging out at sea, and unknowingly pass it on to their own developing chicks. 
Plastic pollution found inside dead albatross © W. Sentman
The chicks are not able to regurgitate objects until later in their lifecycle, so many of them basically become repositories of plastic waste, and a “test tube” for the impact our increasing dependence on single use – “disposable plastic” may be having on wildlife and ultimately us. The breeding albatross at the far northwest of the Hawaiian Island chain (Kure and Midway Atolls) consume some of the highest amounts of plastic relative to the other breeding sites.
To date we do not have a full understanding of what impacts this plastic may be having on the overall albatross populations in the North Pacific. However, most agree that on seeing, either through graphic photos of dead chicks with chest cavities full of plastic, or with firsthand experience through visits to their breeding grounds, any amount of plastic pollution ending up in these majestic birds and their vulnerable chicks is something we as a community, should take responsibility for, regardless of impacts. Just as 100% of the albatross chicks on Midway & Kure Atoll have plastic in them, 100% of visitors who depart these grand wildlife sanctuaries, leave wanting to do more to help remedy this terrible problem.  
It is with great excitement that Oceanic Society launches their Albatross Adoption Program in 2015
·      To address these concerns more effectively
·      To develop a program that will engage people to become more aware of their role in the problem 
·      To generate greater attention on the global issue of plastic pollution in our oceans, alongside a fact-based awareness of the possible impacts on seabirds. 
The public has already begun to adopt Laysan and Black-footed Albatross chicks   on the Oceanic Society website , and enthusiasm for the Albatross Adoption Program is building. 
Volunteers outplanting native species on albatross breeding grounds
Each adoption directly aids albatross population resiliency by supporting both habitat restoration programs as well as monitoring efforts on their key breeding colonies in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The work on the ground is being done by our partners, the Friends of Midway Atoll and the Kure Atoll Conservancy. With a generous initial pledge from Spiritual Revolution Yoga (who are producing a PVC-free “Soaring Albatross” yoga mat that directly supports our AlbatrossAdoption campaign) we are ready to start creating an army of Albatross Ambassadors. 
By adopting an albatross you will help to make a difference: 
  • By supporting the efforts to counteract the potential impacts of plastic pollution
  • You will receive monthly updates over the course of the breeding season (Nov. - July)
  • In May of each adoption year plastic from the breeding colonies in the North Pacific will be sent to you so you can help educate others about the problem. 
  • Your will help be part of a global movement to advocate for cleaner oceans.
    Laysan Albatross in flight Midway Atoll NWR © W. Sentman