A recent expedition to the Arctic has brought about a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean. The British-led expedition found chunks of plastic and polystyrene on ice floes in the ocean.
Even more disturbing is that the area in which the plastic was found was previously inaccessible due to sea ice – meaning that the ice has since melted. The waste was found only 1,000 miles from the North Pole, which is the furthest north that any plastic has been discovered.
The research team was a part of Pen Hadow’s Arctic exploratory mission to sail to the North Pole for the purpose of collecting important data during the trip. Hadow is the only individual to have made this solo mission from Canada to the North Pole without resupply.
The team did not know to expect plastic waste given that ice usually covers the area year round. In fact, Harlow told The Guardian, “For the 25 years I have been exploring the Arctic I have never seen such large and very visible items of rubbish.
The blocks of polystyrene were just sitting on top of the ice. They found a piece of plastic on an ice floe in the middle of international waters in the central Arctic Ocean – an area that’s never before been accessed without icebreakers.
Marine Biologist Tim Gordon of Exeter University said, “Finding pieces of rubbish like this is a worrying sign that melting ice may be allowing high levels of pollution to drift into these areas,” one of the researchers that was on the expedition added, “This is potentially very dangerous for the Arctic’s wildlife.”
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