Cobey Doi’s fourth-grade students at Hawaii Preparatory Academy recently got involved in the study of marine debris.
They examined the digestive system contents of Midway Island’s Laysan albatrosses as part of their unit on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.
Nakoa Goo of the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Hilo led the class activity. Five groups of students separated natural and unnatural items from the birds’ boluses and found a heavy concentration of plastic, fishing line, rope and even erasers. Other items included squid beaks, plant parts, rocks and feathers.
Students weighed plates of separated items and every group found that the plates of unnatural items outweighed the plates of natural items. This project helped students understand how much marine debris can be found in the ocean.