This floating stew exists in far away areas of the Pacific Ocean. But the problem it poses is not as remote as it may seem. Photographer Chris Jordan used this fall's PopTech conference in Maine to unveil his latest project, Midway: Message from the Gyre, a series of photographs that he shot in September on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral in the North Pacific.
The images are striking—of dead albatross chicks, decaying on the white sands of the atoll. Jordan's work documents consumerism and its aftermath; the Midway atoll series shows chicks that had been fed a diet of human trash from the garbage patch in the area's polluted ocean waters. The plastic that had killed the chicks remains intact.
Jordan says the chicks die young, either from the toxins in the plastic or from choking on the refuse that had been mistaken for food. "We have this enormous, frightening problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and scientists are just starting to understand the effect it is having in the marine and wildlife environments," Jordan told PopTech conferees. Jordan said that around the atoll, there are six times the amount of plastic than there are plankton.