A Catalog Of Willful Human Ignorance

A powerful series of photographs by Chris Jordan detailing the deaths of albatross chicks on Midway Atoll. Here, albatrosses canvas the pacific ocean looking for food for their chicks, instead harvesting various bits of detritus which they then poison and asphyxiate their offspring with.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent

The photos here are both beautiful and terrible, the stomachs of the deceased birds neatly confining jumbles of colorful trash in dessicated frames. It is a stark reminder of just how much power we have over our environment and how little we take responsibility for it.

12 Responses to “A Catalog Of Willful Human Ignorance”

  1. Jill Says:

    This hurts my soul.

  2. Suzanne Says:

    Reminds me deeply of the very upsetting and morbidly fascinating Greenpeace Defending the Oceans albatross campaign from back in 2006/2007 photographed by David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton. I had the poster in my bathroom and I must have stared at it for hours on end. Having lived 20 steps away from Brighton beach and seen a myriad of dead animals with the most incredible plastic crap in their bellies, it’s good to see that another photographer revisited this subject.

  3. Ashbet Says:

    That is just heartbreaking :/

  4. Konstantin Says:

    These images are definitely fascinating, but at the same time, very disturbing.

    As a Biology major, I tried my hardest to avoid the cliché of becoming a tree-hugging environmental activist. I really did. However, after some field work, I gotta tell you: there are only so many patches of plastic-filled bird carcasses a fella can wade through before it starts to really sink in. This is plain wrong.

  5. Maureen Goldman Says:

    At Brookfield Zoo (near me) there is a picture of a BEAUTIFUL harp seal – who passed away because some idiot threw a nickel in the water . which eventually made it’s way into her intestinal tract.
    And yet people continue to throw things in there & other exhibits.
    Willful Human Ignorance is an excellent way to phrase it – c’mon – you’ve GOT to know albatrosses cannot consume bottle caps. BTW – the albatross is GOOD luck. The sailor had “an albatross around his neck” because he had killed one – thus bringing bad luck to his shipmates.

  6. Heather Says:

    I’ve seen a documentary on this phenomenon before. Rubbish is collected by waves on beaches – a lot of it properly thrown away but somehow still trickles down to the sea – and the currents of the sea carry it to this section of the Pacific which is thousands of miles from anywhere, where the percentage of rubbish per gallon of seawater is pretty shocking. The plastic is then broken down to a molecular level (it never stops being plastic, once it’s made into plastic) and gloms onto plankton and other natural fish food. Humans and sealife consume it then and it is fucking with reproductive hormones. That’s not even to speak of the plastic seen here, which looks like food to birds. It really made me think twice about using plastic, like, ever.

    Beautiful but horrid.

  7. Glossolalia Black Says:

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an indictment of the entire human species:


  8. Natasha Says:

    Sometimes I hate being human.

  9. cappy Says:

    Saw these pictures the other day — they make me sick, especially the one where the plastic lighter is clearly evident.

    Some bird ate that.

  10. gooby Says:

    These pics make it hard for me to function..

  11. Ana Says:

    There’s been a reasonably healthy bird carcass on a road median near my house, for a month, and that made me quite distressed.

    Incentive to bring the metal bottle and coffee thermos along at all times etc.

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