POLAR bear cubs have been caught on camera playing with plastic sheeting on a remote Arctic island in images that highlight the waste crisis blighting the oceans.
The siblings were spotted pawing the washed-up rubbish and putting it in their mouths in Svalbard, where researchers found plastic wherever they went in the surrounding waters.
A group of 15 scientists, artists, campaigners and film-makers from Cornwall came across the bears during their Sail Against Plastic expedition to the Arctic Circle.
Claire Wallerstein, a member of the team, said: ‘We were very lucky to take part in this unique expedition and had an amazing time seeing Arctic wildlife, stunning glaciers and experiencing 24-hour sunlight.
‘However, it was also a very sobering experience to see just how much plastic is making its way to this incredibly remote and apparently pristine environment.’ Ecologists are increasingly concerned about plastic ending up in the oceans after being washed into rivers or thrown away on beaches.
Posing a danger to marine life, it can be carried for thousands of miles — and some items found in Norwegian territory Svalbard came all the way from Florida.
Ms Wallerstein said: ‘What we found on the beaches was sadly not so very different from what we find back home.
‘There was plenty of fishing waste, but the saddest thing was just how much of the waste blighting the Arctic is the same old detritus of our daily lives.
‘There were bottles, cotton bud sticks, cigarette ends, wet wipes, polystyrene and food packaging.’
■ MARSHLANDS in south-east England could start to disappear from 2040 due to rapid rises in sea levels, scientists have warned. Studying samples from sediments, Durham University experts have tracked sea levels over the past 10,000 years to see the effect on salt marshes. They say there may no longer be marshes across all of Britain by 2100.