satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marine Debris -- Little, Green, Square Things

Auntie Moana's little, green squarish things?  Hhhhmmm; before I talk about them, have a look at these 3 pictures. They show all the debris we got from the area called BM03 (Beach Monitoring area #3) when we surveyed it this past Friday.

There are 4 Beach Monitoring sites on Midway's Sand Island -- BM02, BM03, BM05 and BM07.  Check out the "Midway Map" tab at the top of this page.  The 4 blue numbers will show you the sites.  (There's an additional Beach Monitoring site on Eastern Island.)

Each site is visited once every month, and every single piece of marine debris bigger than an inch is picked up and tallied in the official data table.  The data table is also at the top menu bar, it's the page called "Midway's Marine Debris Data Table."  After collection the total sample, as well as all the plastic pieces bigger than an inch, are weighed and recorded.  Then we take as much of the stuff as possible to the recycling center; the rest is put into the trash.  The details of the results are in the completed data table for BM03.

But remember that little, green, square thing in the bolus that Auntie Moana talked about in the last post?  We found 3 gray ones during the Friday BM03 survey!  You'll see them toward the top left in the first picture above.  Here's a close-up:

You can see they're little plastic tubes about a half-inch long and a half-inch in diameter.  I don't know what they are, or what they're used for.

But plastic lasts a long time, and if they're washing around in the ocean being swallowed by albatross, which then accidentally feed them to their young chicks...those little tubes are a problem.  The video "306 Punches" shows how much plastic can be in a chick's stomach.  Be warned: the video shows the insides of a dead Laysan Albatross!

I'm going to try and find out more about these little tubes.  If I'm successful, I'll tell you in a new post.

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