Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Makana the Albatross Says Vote Yes on Prop 67

Makana the Albatross says Vote Yes on Prop 67

Watch this adorable and persuasive video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium about voting Yes on California Prop. 67, the statewide plastic bag ban! 

Very cool staff person Patrick and the most excellent Laysan albatross Makana (which means “gift” in Hawaiian) give you good voting advice.  As a 20-year volunteer I am so glad that the Aquarium has recently become quite bold in taking political stands. We have a special exhibit on Prop. 67, many of us volunteers are wearing “Yes on 67” buttons and our director Julie Packard co-wrote the Voter Guide argument for Yes on 67.

If this sounds familiar (don’t we already have a plastic bag ban?) two years ago Gov. Brown signed a ban into law, making our state the first with a state wide ban.  But the out-of-state plastics industry forced the law to be put on hold until there was a referendum.  Many cities have passed their own bans; indeed if all those residents vote, there are enough voters to make it statewide.  But we all have to vote!

Here’s my column from two years ago in case you need reminding.  Makana thought her work was done.  She has told me she is tired of advocating for this bill and seeing her fellow birds die from plastic.  (I decided not to post gory pics – just Google “plastic inside albatross”) Please vote Yes on 67.

11:30 AM Monterey Bay Aquarium
Me: “Welcome to the daily feeding program here in the Kelp Forest exhibit.  Inside the exhibit is another volunteer here, Les, our diver today.”
Les: “Hi, Deborah.  I’ve got food here for the fish.”
Me: “Les, you dive in Monterey Bay – does this exhibit look like what you would see out there?”
Les: “Yes, except sometimes I see stuff that doesn’t belong underwater, like this.” (Takes a plastic bag out of his zippered dive bag.)  “A turtle might think this plastic bag is a yummy jellyfish, and eat it, and die.  And when plastic breaks down into little pieces the birds mistake it for food, and even feed it to their young.  Fish too, which means the plastic eventually ends up inside us too.”
Me: “So we can help the ocean by reducing our use of plastics?” 
Les: “Yes.  And the Aquarium is urging Governor Brown to sign the new bill to ban single use plastic bags from all stores in California.  We encourage all you from California to write the governor if you feel the same way.”
Me: (Thinking to myself, “I’m glad the Aquarium has become more activist lately, encouraging us to ask guests to take a stand on legislation, like the shark finning ban, and now the plastic bag ban bill.”)
Me: “But wait, Les, look at all the fish.  They seem to be applauding and jumping around in delight.  What’s happening?”
Les: “They just found out that the Governor did sign the plastic bag bill yesterday Sept. 30, 2014.  California is now the very first state to ban single use plastic bags.  The fish are thrilled.”
Me: “Yea!  And look, here comes Makana, our injured Laysan albatross who lives here at the Aquarium and is part of another daily program here in front of the Kelp Forest.  She looks pretty excited too.”
Makana:  “You bet I’m excited.  The governor signed the bill!  Where I’m from on the Midway Atoll our chicks are dying because mom birds mistake these little bits of plastic for little fish food for our babies.  As we albatross do our yearly flight all around the Pacific, 50,000 miles a year, we see that the ocean is full of plastics.  Thanks, California, for leading the way!”
Me: “Wow, Makana.  Thanks for coming out before your usual 1:30 show.  Did you bring the see-through tube we pass around to guests to show how much plastic can be found inside one dead albatross?”
Makana: “Here is is!  Ugly and gross and deadly.  But people are starting to use less plastic.  Keep it up!”
Me: “Well, Makana, we know your name means “Gift” in the Hawaiian language.  You are a gift to us here, an ambassador for your species.  Thanks.”

(When you come to Pacific Grove for our Blue Theology mission trips and retreats we give you a free “spiritual tour” of the Aquarium.  We’re booking for 2017 spring and summer.  Come meet Makana, and tell her how you voted.

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