A pristine wilderness?

The high Arctic is often considered to be one of the last pristine wilderness areas on Earth. Only a few people live there, and it’s far away from large urban areas or industrial areas. However, when I take guests ashore, they are often shocked by the amount of garbage we find on the beaches. Not dumped there by other tourists, but washed ashore, brought there by ocean currents from mainland Europe or even the America’s. Apart from being a grim reminder of our wasteful society back home, it also poses a threat to nature. Some of the plastic is eaten by birds or mammals and others, like the Reindeer get entangled with their antlers in the larger plastic, like fishing nets.

Lomfjord, Spitsbergen

When we find a beach like that, we often ask the guests to collect a bit of garbage, which we bring back to Longyearbyen where it’s processed. This year, however, Oceanwide Expeditions offers a cruise that is partly aimed at cleaning the beaches of north-western Spitsbergen. The second aim will, of course, be to find the king of the Arctic, the Polar Bear. By cleaning up some beaches and go out to search for wildlife, we combine the good things of enjoying the magnificent Arctic wildlife with helping to preserve it. I’m really looking forward to the trip…

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

One comment

  • Great work and fantastic to see you raising awareness through this blog. It is a shame that beach (and other) litter cleaning is left to the good will of volunteers, when it would cost so little for nations to maintain a global, continental or national fund to support small, dedicated clean-up teams around the world. Recycling has improved the situation but there is so much more that could be done to control garbage at source. Rant over, thanks for your good work! 🙂


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