The Arctic, together with Antarctica, is often regarded as one of the last untouched wilderness areas on our planet. Where this is often true, human influences can definitely be found here. Being at the end of the gulf stream, the ocean current across the Atlantic Ocean, a lot of garbage washes ashore. While most plastics that wash ashore on the beach look very ugly, they will not do much harm anymore. In the ocean, they can break down and can be incorporated in the food chain. Onshore, they mainly look ugly, and we often pick them up and bring them back to Longyearbyen for that reason.
Something I will always pick up, however, are fishing nets. Not that easy often, as they can be huge and half buried under the sand, but well worth it. These nets can still do considerable damage, as can be seen in these pictures. Animals, like these Reindeer, can get entangled in them and die as a result. In this case, we found a piece of fishing net with two reindeer skulls and antlers attached to them. They must have died a horrible death, not being able to move with the two of them…
Sad. this reminds me of a book I just finished reading, “The Seabird’s Cry: The Lives and Loves of the Planet’s Great Ocean Voyagers” by Adam Nicolson. You might like it. It’s poetic, and informative.