The annual conservation project took place along the northern coastline of Svalbard and finished for the season on Tuesday, confirmed the Governor of Svalbard, Odd Olsen Ingerø.
Apart from removing 90 cubic meters of garbage, the unpaid workers encountered a still living polar bear caught in a 170kg fishing net. Luckily, the female animal was able to free itself without injury.
This is the 15th consecutive year of the “Rusken” project. Volunteers help clean the vulnerable Arctic shoreline where most of the debris found comes from fishing boats and consumer packaging.
To recruit new volunteers for the project, the job is announced as a "polar bear guard" which brings a lot of interest.
Other odd finds during the project over the years includes reindeer antlers stuck to fishing nets, and the beach cleaners spent a lot of time getting loose nets stuck to stones and drifting timber.
The Governor of Svalbard thanks all the project volunteers for their efforts.