Iconic Pacific bird sanctuary ravaged by plastic and death
MIDWAY ATOLL, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (AP) — Halfway between North America and Asia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Midway Atoll is a tiny speck of land that U.S. officials have reserved as a wildlife sanctuary, home to some of the world’s rarest seabirds and endangered marine animals.
But here the ground is littered with bird skeletons that dot the landscape with bits of brightly colored plastic — bottle caps, toothbrushes and cigarette lighters, to name a few — protruding from their decomposing intestines.
The deaths are a visceral sign of the impact plastics have on the environment. In the Pacific and other oceans around the world, circulating currents pull together vast areas of plastic that seabirds and marine wildlife either eat or get entangled in.
Midway Atoll, the site of the World War II Battle of Midway, is in the center of what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.