Marine debris on two Arctic beaches in the Russian Far East

  • Henrik Kylin Department of Thematic Studies—Environmental Change, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden; Research Unit: Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Keywords: Plastic debris, Chukchi Sea, Chukchi Peninsula, Kolyuchin Bay, Wrangel Island, pollution

Abstract

In August 2005, marine debris was counted on two Arctic beaches in the Russian Far East. On the north coast of the Chukchi Peninsula east of Kolyuchin Bay, a beach stretch of ca. 2.4 km held a total of 736 items, 0.024 items m‑2, while no more than 0.0011 items m‑2, 12 items in total, were found on a beach stretch of ca. 1.2 km on southern Wrangel Island. The likely explanation for this difference is that the area around the mainland beach is ice-free for a longer period each year, but a contributing factor may be that late spring ice movement removed plastic from the beach on Wrangel Island. The language on the few items with identifiable labels was for the most part Russian or English, making the Chukchi Sea a possible source region. Beaches at the same latitude in the Atlantic may hold more debris on account of the higher human population density, more shipping and transport of floating debris unhindered by a narrow strait that is ice-covered much of the year. Fishing gear blown across the tundra is suggested as a potential threat to reindeer and other terrestrial wildlife.

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Published
2020-06-11
How to Cite
Kylin, H. (2020). Marine debris on two Arctic beaches in the Russian Far East. Polar Research, 39. https://doi.org/10.33265/polar.v39.3381
Section
Research Articles