Speaking to Experts on Plastic Waste and Birds

I’m writing this now from Two Sisters, a coffee shop in Homer. It’s a short walk from the visitor center here. Plenty of lovely weather. Lots of chat on birds between people. We are in the middle of the shorebird festival, after all.

We gave our presentation at the visitor center yesterday. I’ve gotten to a point now where I don’t even need to practice. Talking about birds, they issues the face, and the value of expanding the demographic of those involved in conservation is just second nature now. I got some great feedback at the end from the audience, and some great questions. It makes me even sharper.

The most interesting conversation I’ve had while in Homer is on plastics. Everyone here can relate to the Common Murre die-off. We can talk about the blob. We can talk about the importance of mortality surveys. But plastics – that conversation with students and experts has opened up more questions. The image above is a puffin art display made only from collected trash.

We’re almost at a point where there’s more plastic than fish in the sea. That’s nuts. And that plastic is starting to be eaten by many opportunistic species. The problem? It’s remaining in the food chain. It’s getting into us as we eat from the sea. It’s inside every bird the researchers I spoke with have looked at. Whether it’s huge pieces in their stomachs or molecules poisoning their bodies – our plastic waste is beyond acceptable. I’ve seen some amazing plans to clean it all up, but now I really know how badly it needs to be done.

This trip continues to be an incredible experience, learning from others. Not just information on the environment, but information on running organizations, getting funding, and how they plan on getting things done. More to learn at the festival!

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Christian McWilliams
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Christian studied International Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University with an interest in global environmental conservation, and has lived most of his life between Spain and the United States. Internship experiences during his studies have taken him up and down the East Coast of the US, and had him spend over a year in Mumbai. He enjoys keeping up with global and domestic news, volunteering, and a well made cup of coffee.

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