When British wildlife photographer Kevin Morgans finally spotted some polar bears on Svalbard, and started taking pictures, it was with mixed feelings. His photos showed a mother and her two cubs, playing and chewing on what turned out to be plastic garbage.
Morgans told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten that the three bears were resting on a piece of ice and snow in the Liefdefjord, on the northern portion of Svalbard’s largest island of Spitsbergen.
“We slowly came closer and saw that the cubs were playing with and chewing on some plastic,” Morgans said. Instead of being an exhilarating experience, the photographer said it was “sad, and unleashed mixed feelings.”
Ingeborg Hallager of the Norwegian Polar Institute said she wasn’t surprised, since polar bears “are curious by nature and examine everything, that’s how they survive.” Eating plastic, however, “isn’t good,” she added, and agreed that it’s “sad that in this case, what they found was plastic.”
The photograph, published in newspaper Svalbardposten and on Morgans’ website (external link), comes just as the Norwegian government has been launching an international effort to rid the seas of plastic. Morgans hopes it can make an impression, much like photos of a sick whale found with its stomach full of plastic rubbish did last winter.