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Midway, Message From the Gyre

Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Features June 17th, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: I received a link from filmmaker Dale Johnson, regarding a trailer, Midway, Message From the Gyre. Being a WW II Navy vet it rang a bell - with The Battle of Midway - and I viewed it. It was not what I expected.

Battle of Midway, June 1942
The Battle of Midway
is a fight most WWII vets will remember. June 1942, US Pacific Campaign air forces based on land and on carriers defeated a Japaneses fleet on its way to invade the small islands. The battle that lasted three days and marked the turning point in the Pacific War. The islands are located at one of the most remote places on earth, just east of the International Dateline and about 1300 miles northwest of Honolulu. They’re two small islands about 2.4 square miles, surrounded by a coral reef, and now a National Wildlife Refuge, a habitat for over 250 species of marine and wildlife maintained by U.S. Fish & Wildlife.
Today, a new battle rages on these small islands. It is an information battle, and is being spotlighted by California filmmaker Chris Jordan in his new film with a puzzling title, Midway, Message From the Gyre.
No, it was not a note stuck in a bottle that had washed up on the sandy beach, but close to it. The filmmaker and his crew are there documenting the effects of floating debris on marine and bird life.
Red arrows show flow of North Pacific Gyre
with Midway in center
Imagine, if you will, a large washbasin filled with water. Now toss into that basin a bunch of floating objects. They lie motionless until you pull the drain plug; the water begins to rotate carrying all floating object to the center. An ocean gyre is similar, but driven by the spiral motion of ocean currents and prevailing winds, and carries floating debris to the middle. The center is an area the size of Texas and has become the final resting, or should I say floating place for waste from across the Pacific.
The Gyre Jordan is referring to is the North Pacific Gyre and lies between the U.S. mainland and Asia. In the center of that mass of rotating water are the Midway Islands.
Jordan, an environmentalist, has joined a growing group of concerned activists who are making an attempt
Aerial view of coral reef encircling Midway,
landing strips can be seen on both islands
to alert the civilized world of a growing health hazard to human and animal species. They are there to document the carnage of sea birds from an out-of-the-ordinary enemy, an enemy you would never suspect - plastic! It is an environmental disaster for ocean wildlife, killing millions of turtles, marine mammals and sea birds every year; plastic in all sizes and shapes from bottle caps to the bottles, the container you drink your water from, the containers that line store shelves. These plastic containers end up in the oceans and appear as food to many sea creatures.
Photo shows items removed from carcasses
of dead albatross, from plastic caps
to plastic bottles
Plastic, in any form, is virtually indestructible. Items which used to be made from glass is now plastic. Despite the fact that plastic is manufactured on land, 80% ends up in the oceans of the world, according to Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Plastic bottles are washed down rivers and flood drains, blown into the sea from beaches, or tossed overboard from ships as they cross the world’s seas.
Jordan writes for Ecopedia“The nesting chicks (on the islands) are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.”
Plastic fishnets have been a cause of concern for decades. However, more recent research has highlighted the fact that plastic never really disintegrates, and is only reduced by salt water into tiny nodules – almost invisible to the naked eye. This means that ever-smaller sea creatures are eating plastics. Marine Biologist Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth in England says, “When they get as small as powder, even zooplankton will swallow them.” Inevitably, the near-indestructible plastic compounds are finding their way into the human food chain, and will continue to do so.
University of Exeter researcher Clare Miller took part in the Arctic research and says, “Plastic affects everything that depends on the ocean for survival. Chemical contaminants such as BPA and heavy metals are present in many plastics, leading to biomagnifications throughout the food chain.” She notes, “Plastic cannot be easily removed from the ocean, so the only way to reduce it is to prevent plastic reaching the ocean in the first place.”
Carcass of albatross with plastic items now exposed
in stomach
Jordan reports that Midway, Message From the Gyre is a visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch.
Jordan frames his story in the state-of-the-art, high-definition digital cinematography. He is surrounded by millions of live birds in one of the world’s most beautiful natural sanctuaries. Viewers will experience stunning juxtapositions of beauty and horror, destruction and renewal, grief and joy, birth and death.
Stepping outside the stylistic templates of traditional environmental or documentary films, MIDWAY will take viewers on a guided tour into the depths of their own spirits, delivering a profound message of reverence and love that is already reaching an audience of tens of millions of people around the world.
Jordan says, “In many ways, this film could be shot in many places on the planet where we find tragedy and despair, but here - about halfway between the U.S. and Asia - on an island teeming with life and wonder, it is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.”
Below is a six minute YouTube video of Jordan addressing photos taken of and items removed from the carcass of the albatross.


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