In the beginning of November, student representatives at UNIS arranged a movie night on marine plastic pollution. This evening, around 40 students, both from biology and other departments attended to learn more about, and discuss the issues related to the increasing amount of plastic in the ocean. Geir Wing Gabrielsen from the Norwegian Polar Institute was invited to present the topic. He presented examples, both on a global scale and more specifically from the Arctic.
After this presentation, the documentary “A Plastic Ocean” was shown. The film highlighted the problems of plastic entering the oceans with examples from around the world. The film and the presentation were followed by a discussion including thoughts about how research is communicated to the public, and what we as students and potential researchers can do to share our knowledge with a wider audience. Social media was put forward as an easy way to present important research findings to the public. In addition, it was pointed out that universities and other institutions should be encouraged to set up better systems for waste recycling, and that students have the possibility to make changes like this happen.
Earlier this semester, bachelor students from arctic biology went for a one-week field cruise along the west coast of Spitsbergen, Svalbard. During this week, huge amounts of plastic litter were observed on the beaches, even though visited sites were exposed to little or no human activity. 220 kg combustible waste, 20 kg glass and a lot of buoys form fisheries were collected and brought back to Longyearbyen, where it was photographed. During the discussion at the movie night, the importance of sharing knowledge with the public was highlighted, and the pictures form the litter picking will therefore be displayed in a small exhibition on the open day at UNIS 25.November. In this way the students hope to send out a visual message documenting how littering and discharges by humans affect the Arctic environment.
Ingvild Håvarstein Eldøy