Heart-wrenching image of a polar bear found with a fishing net ‘noose’ tightly bound around its neck show the devastating effect plastic pollution has on wildlife
- The image was taken on the icy coast of of Svalbard, Norway by a photographer
- The animal appeared unfazed by the noose made of a discarded fishing net
- Authorities were called and they managed to identify, locate and free the animal
A polar bear snapped with a noose around its neck from a discarded fishing net serves as a stark reminder of how plastic waste is strangling the world’s wildlife – both metaphorically and literally.
The animal was trapped with the fishing net around its neck on the icy coast of Svalbard, Norway.
Dad-of-two Svein Wik, 55, snapped the unsettling image as he led a photography exhibition last August.
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Dad-of-two Svein Wik, 55, snapped the unsettling image as he led a photography exhibition last August. The bear appeared to be relatively calm despite the precarious situation on the island of Spitsbergen. It was freed by authorities two weeks later
Wildlife Arctic Tours owner Mr Wik said the bear appeared to be relatively calm despite the precarious situation on the island of Spitsbergen.
A misstep from the predator would have suddenly tightened the noose, strangling the bear.
The photographer decided to alert the local authorities, who managed to track the bear down and remove it two weeks later.
Mr Wik also snapped another curious and hungry polar bear sniffing and pawing at plastic fishing boxes washed up on the beach during the trip.
He said: ‘It’s very depressing when you see these beautiful creatures living alongside a lot of garbage.
‘I reported the bear to local authorities and two weeks later they found it from their helicopter, tranquilised it and removed the net.
‘Plastic dumped like this is affecting everybody – not just animals.
Mr Wik also snapped another curious and hungry polar bear sniffing and pawing at plastic fishing boxes washed up on the beach during the trip (pictured)
‘Microplastics will enter the food chain and end up being eaten by humans as well, it should be alarming to every human being.
‘In my opinion it’s as big a problem as climate change but it’s more hidden.’
Mr Wik has been interested in photography for 25 years and started his company three years ago as he wanted people to experience nature in a different way.
‘I’ve been interested in photography for 25 years and from the beginning I could see the environmental impact caused by humans,’ he said.
‘Then I started to try and experience wildlife and nature in a different and much closer way my going on tours to the Svalbard islands.
‘That’s the concept in my tours too – I want people to experience nature close up and learn something about it – and the environmental issues affecting it.’
‘Not only do these animals have to contend with the ice melting but also either eating or getting trapped in discarded plastic.
‘It’s a huge contrast to how it should be and is a very sad situation when you are there.’
HOW DO MICROPLASTICS GET INTO THE OCEANS FROM RIVERS?
Urban flooding is causing microplastics to be flushed into our oceans even faster than thought, according to scientists looking at pollution in rivers.
Waterways in Greater Manchester are now so heavily contaminated by microplastics that particles are found in every sample – including even the smallest streams.
This pollution is a major contributor to contamination in the oceans, researchers found as part of the first detailed catchment-wide study anywhere in the world.
This debris – including microbeads and microfibres – are toxic to ecosystems.
Scientists tested 40 sites around Manchester and found every waterway contained these small toxic particles.
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic debris including microbeads, microfibres and plastic fragments.
It has long been known they enter river systems from multiple sources including industrial effluent, storm water drains and domestic wastewater.
However, although around 90 per cent of microplastic contamination in the oceans is thought to originate from land, not much is known about their movements.
Most rivers examined had around 517,000 plastic particles per square metre, according to researchers from the University of Manchester who carried out the detailed study.
Following a period of major flooding, the researchers re-sampled at all of the sites.
They found levels of contamination had fallen at the majority of them, and the flooding had removed about 70 per cent of the microplastics stored on the river beds.
This demonstrates that flood events can transfer large quantities of microplastics from urban river to the oceans.