The Norwegian island group Svalbard is hundreds of miles away from the closest continent and is situated in the midst of the Arctic Ocean. But Svalbard is not unaffected by the outside world, despite its isolation and small human population of roughly 2,600 people.
The inhabitants in that area, who may have never seen a person, are tragically all too familiar with our possessions.
British photographer Kevin Morgans recently paid a visit to Svalbard, capturing its beauty and splendor — but also something heartbreaking.
At one point, Morgans noticed a mother polar bear and her two cubs atop an icy crag. Then he noticed the plastic.
“It was a bittersweet moment to watch,” Morgans wrote on Facebook. “On one hand, you have a beautiful mother and two cubs and on the other, the curious young cubs are playing/eating plastic pollution which had been washed ashore.”
The images are, to put it mildly, frightening. He wants the world to pay attention.
This tragic incident, according to Morgans, “highlights how human plastic waste is impacting animals in the Arctic areas.” So, please, let’s all do our part to limit plastic use and maintain our seas free of garbage.
Sadly, there is no shortage of scenes like this one, showing wild animals forced to live among our waste — and that’s because there’s plenty of waste going around. Every year, roughly 14 billion tons of plastic enter Earth’s oceans, putting countless animals’ lives in peril. But hope is not lost.
“We need smart policies that encourage manufacturers to move away from throwaway plastic,” Elizabeth Murdock, director of the Pacific Ocean initiative for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told The Dodo earlier this year.
“We need individuals who understand the impacts our trash has on vulnerable marine life and make personal choices that help reduce the trash in our oceans.”