Photo: Eden in the Pacific

Crowded quarters (Credit: Gabriel Lafferty)

In 2008, I took a sailing trip on a schooner with a group called SALTS. We were traveling across the Pacific, from Japan to America, and we had to stop at the tiny island of Midway. It was what the famous 'Battle of Midway' was fought over in WWII. It is at the very tip of the Hawaiian Island chain and is a tropical paradise. I have never seen water so clear or sand so bright. Today, it is a conservation site for turtles, seals, sharks and nearly 3 million birds. Almost every square meter of the area is filled with a giant albatross. These birds, any many other birds around the world eat tiny morsels from the sea.

Tiny morsels that are very appetizing to these birds include bottle caps, lighters, toys and all sorts of plastic that does not sink or biodegrade. While they continue to eat these small bits of plastic, and feed them to their chicks, they cannot digest or pass them. Plastic stays in the birds until they die. Often the birds will die of starvation with a full stomach. There are birds in all stages of decomposition going from the recently deceased with bright colored toys bulging out, like a macabre pinata, to a bare skeleton with a stomach shaped mass of bottle caps in it.

This is not the only dark side this eden in the Pacific has, being geographically isolated brings an abundance of ocean garbage to the shores of Midway everyday. There are kilometers of fishing lines, and nets, plastic bags, styrofoam and even appliances that wash up onto the otherwise pristine beaches of this area. When I visited here, is when I started to act more environmentally conscious. I want to be able to return to this paradise, and still have it beautiful.

A paradise island taught me the ramifications of not acting environmentally responsibly.
Author photo

By Gabriel Lafferty

White Rock, BC

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