First, the video, with one of my favorite people, Sir David Attenborough:
Albatrosses don't just have plastic problems, they have hook problems. Fishing hooks. You see, albatrosses eat sea life, and so the baited hooks used to catch seafood are a big draw for them. They see a tasty morsel on the water, swoop in, bite down, get hooked, and then get dragged through the water, drowning or choking to death. Often, there is a chick like this waiting on land for food whose parent never arrives:
100,000 albatrosses per year. These birds breed slowly, so this adds up to a big problem. Nineteen of the twenty-two species of albatross are imperiled by long-line fishing. Three species are critically endangered. Seven are merely endangered.
Fortunately, there are solutions. BirdLife International is working with the fishing folks to take a few simple measures to alleviate the problem, such as installing simple bird-scaring devices on boats, dyeing bait blue to make it more difficult for the birds to see, and using mechanisms to make the bait sink past the birds' reach. To that end, they've created an Albatross Task Force whose job it is to get on the fishing boats and do the hard practical work of implementing these fixes.
Read the journals of Task Force members here, containing posts on their work on the fishing boats in different parts of the world. The thing that strikes you as you read these journals is how careful the Task Force members are to convince the people on the fishing boats that seabird protections are compatible with a good catch. They recognize that winning over the people working the boats is critical. Ultimately, of course, BirdLife International wants to convince governments and the fishing industry to get serious about protecting these birds, and to make the measures mentioned above part of standard fishing practice. I hope they succeed. I don't want a world without these guys:
Want to help? Go here.