Aurora Expeditions’ passengers and staff have excelled in the Clean Up Svalbard campaign this year with consistent collections of plastic bits and some big hauls of trawl net. It is an AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) initiative aimed at clearing the coastline of marine debris. Many sites we visit in the Svalbard archipelago have years of accumulated debris. Aurora and other tour companies are now cleaning the place up.
Many passengers find the procedure normal – it’s what they do on their beaches at home. At each landing, we take a large bag ashore. This is steadily filled as bits of plastic that are encountered along the walk –bottles, bottle-caps, bags, rope and netting. For some it becomes a satisfying part of each landing. Occasionally, we retrieve a large haul. At Hamiltonbukta, for example, we filled a whole Zodiac with a near complete trawl net. It took six people to pull this up from the rocks and carry it back.
Passengers from our Jewels of the Arctic expedition loading a near complete trawl net onto a Zodiac at Hamiltonbukta. Photo courtesy of Malcom Smith.
All the rubbish collected is deposited in large yellow ‘Clean Up Svalbard’ bins provided beside the wharf at Longyearbyen. Hopefully, over time we will see a reduction in the amount of plastic debris along these remote and ‘near-pristine’ coastlines.
Words by Aurora Expeditions’ naturalist and expedition leader, Dr. Roger Kirkwood.
Roger has explored the polar regions for over 30 years. In 1984, Roger was a krill research assistant on a marine science expedition with the Australian Antarctic Division and returned nine more times to study zooplankton, seals, penguins and albatross. As a marine biologist, Roger has published over 100 research and public articles, two textbooks and two children's books and is always keen to share his extensive wildlife knowledge with passengers.
Bottle caps, bits of rope and netting are some of the debris that can be found washed ashore in the Svalbard archipelago. Photo courtesy of Michael Baynes.
With the help of Aurora Expeditions and other operators, over 3,720kg of waste have been collected since the Clean Up Svalbard bins were last emptied. This is a great effort by all and our passengers are proud to have contributed to this cause. If you would like to contribute at home, we highly encourage you to find out how you can get involved as part of World Cleanup Day on the 15th of September.
Dr. Roger Kirkwood and passengers pictured above travelled on Aurora Expeditions’ Jewels of the Arctic voyage in August 2018. To find out more about this expedition or any of our other Arctic expeditions visiting the Svalbard archipelago, speak to one of our friendly Expedition Experts today.