Polarquest 2018 expedition completed
After 1500 miles covered in 18 days of sailing, Polarquest –2018 has successfully completed its expedition on board the sailboat Nanuq.
The mission of Nanuq, a floating science laboratory, was to circumnavigate the Svalbard Islands, with a heterogeneous team of researchers on board, to monitor the health of the Arctic waters and ecosystem through the MANTANET system, which allows collecting water samples at a depth of over 6 metres.
Now the water samples collected at extreme latitudes will be analysed but a visual check is sufficient to realize that 30 samples collected from Arctic oceans and beaches at record latitudes contain an astonishing quantity of plastic.
For specific numbers and details, it will be necessary to wait for the results of the analysis that will be carried out by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CNR at the laboratories in Lerici.
“In collaboration with colleagues from the Institute for Coastal Marine Environment (IAMC-CNR), we will study the biofilm on the surface of microplastics”, said Stefano Aliani, head of the ISMAR-CNR. “It comprises organisms and bacteria forming a thin film of living organisms carried on plastics. The specific composition of this living layer is unknown and forms a new microecosystem only recently identified: the plastisphere”.
The Polarquest expedition reminds us that the preservation of the Arctic is a fundamental prerequisite for a sustainable future and that plastic particles, despite their small size, take a very long time to degrade, posing a major threat for the Arctic, the last frontier of wild and unspoiled nature on Earth.