I spotted this Laysan Duck at Monument Seep on Eastern Island last week. It has a plastic ring going around the back of its neck and through its mouth. The ring could make it impossible for the duck to eat. How did the ring get onto the duck?
The ring was probably a piece of marine debris. Marine debris is trash put into the ocean, either accidentally or on purpose, by people. The `ōpala can be carried to Midway either by ocean currents or in the stomach of an albatross. If the bird is lucky, it'll cough up the marine debris in a bolus. (More about boluses later!) Sometimes, if the bird is not so lucky, the albatross dies, and then the marine debris that the bird swallowed while alive is left on the ground after the bird rots.
However the plastic ring got here, once it was on Midway, it probably was blown or washed by rain into one of our freshwater ponds, called seeps (more about seeps later, too!) Perhaps the ring floated over the duck's head as the bird surfaced from an underwater swim.
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surveying the marine debris problem (that's ANOTHER topic that we'll do a FOAM post on later!)
But can you please help, too? Next time you open a container with a cap like that, please cut the ring open! That way, if the ring does get in the ocean somehow, it won't wind up around a Laysan Duck's neck in far away Midway Atoll. Mahalo for taking care of us!