18 Sep

We’re still flying! And new Midway film teaser…









Dear supporters of Midway:

Thank you from deep in our hearts for all the support and comments and well-wishes. Midway has been shouldering the blustery winds of film post-production, taking its inspiration from the albatrosses’ winged perseverance through all that man and nature send their way.

We are proud to announce that a work-in-progress version of the film screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival last week, and had several edifying showings over the course of the festival. Co-directors Jordan and Emiliani are now back to work polishing a final version of our film. Our new goal: another festival premiere in early 2014.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please check out the new film teaser created for TIFF at www.midwayfilm.com.

It’s been a long flight, but Midway is closer than ever…and we are so grateful you are with us on this journey.

In deep appreciation,
the Midway film team

10 Feb

Midway V – Poem: On witnessing an albatross feeding

On witnessing an albatross feeding

To witness a young albatross open wide
its translucent, newborn throat,
open the soft, pink shell to its mother,
to the contents of the sea she carried
in her body for thousands of miles,
for over twenty million years – to watch,
today, the chick wholly embrace
the amber-colored squid oil
and cloaked shards of plastic,
to see it all slip down in an act
of ancient swallowing – is to witness
eons of trust absorbed into nature’s gut.
And for our own trusting throats
defended by lips, teeth and taste buds,
we evolved to sweeten what poisons us.


06 Feb

Midway V – The first feedings

Chris holds plastic pieces removed from a days-old albatross chick.

Although it is only February, Spring has arrived for the albatross on Midway.  It’s birthing season and hundreds of thousands of chicks are hatching over the next two weeks on every available square meter of island. It’s an ecstatic time and we’ve spent our first few days photographing and filming the cuteness, buoyed by the sheer, bubbling abundance of chicks breathing into the world for the first time. And among all the nests rustling with new life, the juvenile albatross dance their courtship routines, clapping, clattering, popping, cracking and whistling in a ’round the clock celebration complete with the sounds of fireworks.

We are caught up in all this lushness and fluff. It is almost as if the plastic horror has vanished. Barely a bottle cap or toothbrush can be spotted among all the green growth. In fact, plastic carried here in the bellies of albatross in years past (5 tons per year by Fish & Wildlife estimations) still remains but has gone underground. Grass and weeds have grown up, sand and soil have shifted, covering much of the evidence. But today: a dead chick curled in its nest, a few days old, at most. Inside its stomach we found four shards of plastic large enough to block tiny organs. Large enough that on a human scale it would be equal to eating a few credit cards for dinner. We were shocked to discover that plastic made up one of the first meals for this chick, and saddened to realize what this means for the other chicks just coming into the world on Midway.

02 Apr

Midway Journey III – Poem: Courtship Medley à la Albatross

At this moment on Midway Atoll, the juvenile albatrosses are in the throes of their courtship dances. Their nonstop rave is the main source of all the buoyant motion and noise on the island as they seek a bond before flying out to sea to feed for the remainder of the summer. In this poem I’ve attempted to capture the sights and sounds of this ecstatic dancing season.

Courtship Medley à la Albatross

It begins with a prance dance,
a tiptoe head-bob waddle
and a wing fluff.  Then, fake a preen,
shake out a sideways
head-breaking shriek,
a chair-leg-floor-scrape scream,
and sidle into a crooked raga
with fast and furious tabla drums,
and applause, applause, wait –

it’s a drill-hammer fixing
a squeaky door behind the beak,
a flanking feather-grab tease
to a show of chocolate origami wings,
quick switcheroo to a bass kazoo,
throw the head up high, trumpet
to blow the clouds from the sky,
it’s a match, it’s a mate, a pact
to hatch an egg, raise a chick,

then bid adieu until next season,
dancing days forever over
in favor of a lifelong bond.

~Victoria Sloan Jordan


photo: kris krug

16 Jul

MIDWAY JOURNEY II – Kaleidoscope, a poem by Victoria Sloan Jordan

In this poetic offering, a plastic filled bird carcass becomes a symbol for awakening.

Filmed and edited by Jan Vozenilek

Music by Christen Lien

10 Jul

MIDWAY JOURNEY II – Junk Food II : Our First Dissection

Stomach contents of another dead baby albatross are revealed as Chris Jordan cuts the bird open with scissors from a dissection kit provided by US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Filmed by Victoria Sloan Jordan
Music by Christen Lien

04 Oct

Plastic Water

Scientists say that plastic now outweighs plankton 6 to 1 in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The lagoon of Midway Atoll is the perfect laboratory to witness all sizes of plastic slowly breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces.  A variety of plastic washes up on the beaches daily, but not before some local fish make a meal of it.

Video by: Jan Vozenilek.  Voiceover: Victoria Sloan Jordan.

Music by Christen Lien

22 Sep

From here forward…


I’m confused by the abundant life and abundant plastic pollution here.  It’s easy to slip into a fantasy that a sort of balance has been achieved on Midway Atoll.  Birds nesting amidst plastic cigarette lighters, bottle caps, toys, umpteen bits and pieces of plastic; turtles pulling up on the beach to rest among plastic buoys and ghost nets and fuel containers; seals frolicking under the pier with discarded shampoo bottles – all of it getting along, or so it seems from a cartoon view.  But then you begin to encounter the decaying bodies of albatross, almost all of them containing some amount of plastic, and some completely choked with it that there’s no mystery how this bird died.

How can I possibly continue to contribute to the stream of plastic into our waterways and oceans after seeing the albatross stuffed with plastic?   Matches, people.  Glass, metal.  Re-use!  Forget recycling, it’s not happening, and when it’s plastic it’s called down-cycling, anyway.  What happens when we are up to our eyeballs in fleece and carpet and plastic decking?

I will go home a changed person after this trip.  I’ve been an uber-recycler for most of my adult life.  But now I can see that recycling is not the answer.  We just need to stop making so much plastic.  From here forward, my own consumption of it, especially disposables, will be under a high-power microscope.  I’ll be considering every way in which I use plastic in my life, examining my wasteful habits more deeply, and asking myself what’s really important – a quick, disposable convenience or something with enduring value?  It’s a good lesson for me on how to use stuff, and also how to enrich my life.

Consider joining the discussion about plastics on our Facebook group by clicking on the Discussion tab.

~Victoria Sloan Jordan

13 Sep

Message in the Body


It’s the end of Day 3 for us on Pihemanu (Midway Atoll) in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Pihemanu – “the loud din of birds” in Hawaiian – is relatively quiet now that the nearly 800,000 albatross are out to sea for the next few months.  Other seabirds are easier to notice now.  Terns, petrels, tropicbirds, frigatebirds and noddies are busy dancing and courting, feeding and raising their chicks.  But their sound and motion is punctuated by the thousands of lifeless albatross scattered about the island, slowly revealing their cargo of plastic.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife rangers, albatross bring almost five tons of plastic to Pihemanu/Midway every year.  The ocean is permeated with plastic and, like dust floating in the air, it’s mostly invisible to us.  Albatross concentrate this plastic junk in their bodies and deposit it on land when they die.  A Hawaiian elder counseled us not to view the albatross or the islands as victims of plastic pollution.  They have called this problem to them, she said, to deliver us a message.  We are hit with this message every day.  When can we say we’re receiving it?

Victoria Sloan Jordan