Summary of the Askö Day

If you missed the first Askö Day, where recent and future researchers as well as course organisers met and discussed on-going and future research projects in the Baltic Sea, you can read a brief summary on the Baltic Sea Center site.

The BalticSeaWeed blog was there, of course, focusing on Fucus.

Do have a look at the lovely little film “Askö in numbers” that show areal footage of the research station.

Trip to Vietnam – looking for seaweeds

When we landed in Hanoi we started with a meeting at MCD, Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development, (more information to be found at http://www.mcdvietnam), where we got coffee and we had a first planning of the work for the following week.
välkomstmöte på MCD

MCD has been a partner to Stockholm University and the Department of Ecology, Environmental and Plant Science in Vietnam for many years. It is mainly women working at MCD and everything is very well-planned and efficient. During our visit we had the opportunity to meet with the local government in Phu Long and get information about the planning of aquaculture in the region for the future. Two master students will together with the help from MCD perform interview with local shrimp and fish farmers as well as trying to find out the use of trash fish in aquacultures, with the aim of proposing development improving the environmental conditions and integrated aquaculture.
Karta PHU Long areaMap of Phu Long

The next day we went to Cat Ba, to study different types of aquaculture activities, ranging from high to low intensity shrimp farming in mangrove plantations, where both fish mainly Tilapia are cultivated in combination with crabs and shrimps.
skylt vid odlingen

In the intensive shrimp cultivation 2-3 harvests are produced per year. This type of aquaculture takes up a much smaller area but has a strong impact on the environment while the extensive aquaculture takes up a 10 times larger area and has a less negative impact on the surrounding area and a lower but more diverse production.

hus på damm kantenThe family lives in the small house located on the edge of the pond.

Much of the island is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mangrove is 4000 ha protected. Between 1990- 2000, when aquaculture around the island peaked, 50 hectares of mangroves where cut down. The plan now is to replant mangroves and increasing area and cover.

Rhizophora
Mangrove plantering
Rhizophora utmed damm kant

The mangrove species planted are mainly Rhizophora and Avicennia. They are planted along both sides of the dam. The smallest plants are brand new and the largest over 2 meters in height are about 8 years old.

karta Lan Ha Bay

The second part of our trip was to visit Lan Ha Bay. The area is heavily influenced locally from farms, by untreated sewage from communities around the coast, from harbor construction and from runoff from the Red River, which transports large amounts of sediment, organic matter and nutrients. At the first farm we visited they were feeding the cultivated fish with thrash fish.

skräpfisk försäljning

skräpfisklådor till försäljning

Pictures of the on-going sale of trash fish and loading into boxes to be transported to neighbouring fish farms. At one of the fish farms you could stay and have a lunch with really fresh sea-food.

krabbor röda godaDelicious red crabs

Cultivation of seaweeds seems to be limited in Vietnam. On the road from Phu Long to Cat Ba I suddenly saw some red algae put out to dry along the small road. The algae had been collected form an adjacent pond where they grow naturally. They will get about 1 dollar for 10 kilos or one sac of dried algae (about 70000VDN). It may not be much money, but can still be a contribution to the salary which is around 200 -300 dollar/month.

samla torkade rödalger
rödalgskördRed algae harvest
The picture shows women who rakes up dried red algae and put them in sacks so that they can be transported and soled. My first guess on the species was Gracillaria, which I was able to confirm when I found some plants that were not dry.

Gracilaria spp.

Picture of Gracillaria spp. from the harvest of dried seaweeds photographed on a small plate at the hotel, since I had forgotten to pack paper for pressing seaweed!

During the visit to the fish farms, while the others were talking to the owner and investigated which fish were cultivated in the various cages and what they were fed, I lay on my knees and looked after what was growing on the edges of the cages and on the nets.
CladophoraCladophora
UlvaUlva

Here are some pictures of the findings! One Cladophora spp., one Ulva spp., looks just like our species on the west coast Ulva lactuca, one Bryopsis spp. and one Polysiphonia spp. The last two species were too small, so I was not able to take any photos.The algae were found only in the innermost fish farms, close to the coast and only down to about 0.5 m depth. Probably because the light conditions in water are so poor that the light is not enough for algal growth. Other species found on the cages were mainly different filter feeders, like sponges and hydroids.

Hydroid med symbiontisk rödalg

Beautiful red-coloured and finely branched hydroid, looking a bit like Dynamena or Abitenaria. The colour red is produced from a symbiontisk red algae that live inside the animal wall.

Svampdjur och ostron

Krabba i svampdjur

Those who had the most beautiful colours were different species of sponges, in colours of maroon, red or clear blue. In one of them was a small crab, who had found good protection inside the sponge. It has been a new experience and I have learned a lot of new things about Vietnam and would very much like to come back and learn more.

solnedgång Cat BaSunset over the bay – view from our hotel.

I will remember the travel to Vietnam for a long time during the dark winter months in Sweden and going to the Askö Laboratory studying the Baltic Fucus.

PhD position on seaweed farming in Sweden

The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Gothenburg University announces a PhD-position on macroalgae farming. The lucky winner will be located at Tjärnö Marinebiological Laboratory, just south of Strömstad on the Swedish west coast. It sounds like really interesting stuff!

Tjärnö Station as seen from r/v Nereus

Tjärnö Station as seen from r/v Nereus

Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, four years
Extent: 100 %
Location: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö, on the Swedish west coast.
First day of employment: Up on agreement
Reference number: UR 2014/914

Doctoral education
The admission to doctoral education takes place in natural science, specialising in biology. The program comprises four years of fulltime study and includes three years working on a thesis project and one year of courses and literature studies. Courses can be selected within the department/faculty, but national/international courses can also be included. Teaching and supervision of undergraduate students may be included, which extends the doctoral education period.

Project description
The PhD project is part of the larger research project “Sustainable large-scale cultivation of seaweeds in Sweden” where researchers from the University of Gothenburg, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Scottish Association of Marine Science participate. The overall project objective is to develop a sustainable large-scale system for growing kelp (Saccharina latissima) at the Swedish west coast. Seaweed cultivation is the fastest growing aquaculture sector globally, but is totally undeveloped in Sweden despite good natural conditions. The project deals with methodological and environmental aspects such as new cultivation techniques, mass production of spores and seedlings, breeding of crop varieties, and effects of seaweed cultivation on the surrounding marine ecosystem.

Saccharina latissima

Saccharina latissima

Job assignments
The main task is to carry out thesis work under supervision, during which the PhD student will develop knowledge and skills in methodology, analytical ability and subject theory. The work tasks include laboratory-based production of seedlings, development of new cultivation techniques for seaweeds in the field, development of high-performing lines through breeding, and evaluation of positive and negative environmental effects of large-scale algal cultivation. The studies will be conducted both in the field and in the laboratory.
The thesis work also includes statistical analyses and compilation of results in scientific papers, leading to the publication of a doctoral thesis. The PhD student will also present results at conferences, seminars, and project meetings and is expected to communicate and collaborate actively with other participants.

Small seedlings of Saccharina latissima on rope.

Small seedlings of Saccharina latissima on rope.

The admission to doctoral education takes place in Natural Science, specialising in Biology. The program comprises four years of fulltime study and includes three years working on a thesis project and one year of courses and literature studies. Courses can be selected within the department/faculty, but national/international courses can also be included. Teaching and supervision of undergraduate students may be included, which extends the doctoral education period.

For more information on the position, check THIS LINK

You can also contact
Henrik Pavia, +46(0)31-7869685, henrik.pavia@bioenv.gu.se
or
Head of department: Ingela Dahllöf, +46 (0)31 786 3393, ingela.dahllof@bioenv.gu.se

Baltic Flow call for assistance

Within the project ‘BalticFlows’, they are disseminating an online questionnaire to estimate the citizen interest in a water monitoring programme (using simple devices, maintain them and read out and distribute data) within the Baltic Region.

If you can think of an institution, or know people who would like to participate in this questionnaire, please use and distribute the following links (Click on appropriate country):

Germany
Estonia
Finland
Latvia
Sweden

Green algae tries for world domination?

“It began with a few small strange patches of slime, clinging to the rocks of the Heber River in Canada. Within a year, the patches had become thick, blooming mats. Within a few years the mats had grown into a giant green snot.”

No, it’s not the trailer for an upcoming Hollywood movie (allthough it may very well become one).

It is the start of a very interesting BBC Earth program about the microscopic diatom alga, Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as Didymo.

Although not yet reported found in the Baltic Sea, it might just be a matter of time…

A very interesting piece on how algae can be transported and gain world domination, or at least try.

Click here to read and watch.

New publication comparing Fucus radicans and Fucus vesiculosus in Swedan and Estonia

A new scientific publication has just come out in the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science by Ellen Schagerström, Helena Forslund, Lena Kautsky, Merli Pernoja and Jonne Kotta.

The article compared the thallus complexity and quantified the abundance and biomass of epiphytic algae and invertebrate taxa of the two fucoid species Fucus radicans and Fucus vesiculosus from sympatric sites in the Bothnian Sea on the Swedish coast and around the Estonian island Saaremaa.

Fucus radicans had a more complex thallus structure than Fucus vesiculosus within the whole study range, but both species were more complex in the Bothnian Sea compared to Estonia. The complexity of host algae did not contribute to their associated flora and fauna taxon richness; instead, the size of thalli was a good proxy for associated communities.

You can read the article HERE for free until November 8th, courtsey of Elsevier Ltd.

Fucus radicans (left) is more complex or "bushy" than Fucus vesiculosus (right)

Fucus radicans (left) is more complex or “bushy” than Fucus vesiculosus (right)

Warm & wonderful Estonia

This weekend, we went for a quick fieldtrip to the Estonian island Saaremaa to collect some seaweed, as we so often do. The West Estonian Archipelago Sea, or Väinameri is very shallow and well sheltered as you can see on the map. Increaseing depth is deeper blue, and there is not much dark blue there.

The Väinameri is often no more than 5-10 meters deep.

The Väinameri is often no more than 5-10 meters deep.

As before, we rented a car in Tallinn and drove down to Virtsu, where the ferry over to Saaremaa is. It is a nice trip through the rural landscape, we even saw 7 storks lined up next to the road on a field. They looked almost fake, until one of them moved.

On Saaremaa we have been fortunate enough to get to stay at the fieldstation of our Estonian collegue Jonne Kotta. It is a lovely place, a small house with outdoor toilet, the sea just behind a sheltering border of trees and a small garden with berries and rhubarbs. And a wooden outhouse for equipment and smelly experiments.

The fieldstation is Jonnes familys' summerhouse.

The fieldstation is Jonnes familys’ summerhouse.

The fieldstation outhouse in 2011

The fieldstation outhouse in 2011

So imagine our surprise as we drove up and saw….this!

The brand new fieldstation at Köiguste was built in 2013

The brand new fieldstation at Köiguste was built in 2013

Three jaws dropped as we couldn’t believe our eyes!!

Where the old outhouse used to be, there is now a brand new lab building, with large kitchen/lecture room, computer/microscopy room, indoor bathrooms and showers, enormous storage space for stuff and a wetlab for sorting. There is also space outdoors for sorting and setting up experiments.

The lawn where one used to park is now extended and covered with gravel to fit several cars, boat trailers and whatnot. And two more cabins have popped up opposite the old ones, therby doubling the overnight capacity.

Lots of parking space and new cabins.

Lots of parking space and new cabins.

But in my astonished euphoria over this amazing change, due to Jonnes resourcefulness and hard work no doubt, I am almost forgetting the seaweed (that’s saying something, that is).

This time, we went roud to five sites, two old ones and three that I had not sampled before, but have only been sent material from by Jonne.

The office looks good some days.

The office looks good some days.

The weather was marvellous, all still and not a cloud in sight. On Saaremaa the Fucus grows much shallower than on the Swedish coast, probably due to higher turbidity in the water since the Väinameri is much affected by land nutrient runoff. It is also very shallow, so that, at some sites, I have to walk almost 100-200 meters for the water to reach my knees.

Our collection went smoothly and quick, so we decided to take a trip over to the island Hiiumaa, which is north of Saaremaa, since the ferry to there departs from one of our sampling sites, and because we wanted to see what kind of seaweed grew there. One often thinks that it will be the same in an area, but in reality there are sometimes quite large variations on small scales, so we take nothing for granted.

The trip from Saaremaa to Hiiumaa takes about 65 minutes

The trip from Saaremaa to Hiiumaa takes about 65 minutes

And, sure enough, the beaches we looked at were quite different from those on Saaremaa. It is amazing how much impact the difference in wave exposure does for the underwater environment.

But even though we didn’t find a seaweed paradise, it was nice to be on a ferry and see the sea. We could also note that the algal bloom was in its peak, same as in the Baltic Proper (we could see it from the plane was we flew over the Åland islands).

Microalgae bloom floating on the surface of a still sea.

Microalgae bloom floating on the surface of a still sea.

After enjoying a lovely dinner in the town Kuressaare and a good nights sleep, we went back up to Tallinn and even had time for lunch in one of the towns many great restaurants, and a coffee in a cozy café before we returned the car and headed back to Sweden.

Beer and chocolate cake....somewhat unorthodox but it was very warm...

Beer and chocolate cake….somewhat unorthodox but it was very warm…

And so, to round off this praise for Estonia and the new fieldstation, here’s a photo of the collected Fucus radicans from Saaremaa.

Estonian Fucus radicans is smaller than the Swedish ones.

Estonian Fucus radicans is smaller than the Swedish ones.

New book: Photosynthesis in the Marine Environment

Marine photosynthesis provides for at least half of the primary production worldwide. So Mats Björk, one floor down from The BalticSeaWeed blog, together with Sven Beer and John Beardall have publishyed the book “Photosynthesis in the Marine Environment”, available from Wiley.

Mats bok

“Photosynthesis in the Marine Environment constitutes a comprehensive explanation of photosynthetic processes as related to the special environment in which marine plants live. The first part of the book introduces the different photosynthesising organisms of the various marine habitats: the phytoplankton (both cyanobacteria and eukaryotes) in open waters, and macroalgae, marine angiosperms and photosymbiont-containing invertebrates in those benthic environments where there is enough light for photosynthesis to support growth, and describes how these organisms evolved. The special properties of seawater for sustaining primary production are then considered, and the two main differences between terrestrial and marine environments in supporting photosynthesis and plant growth are examined, namely irradiance and inorganic carbon. The second part of the book outlines the general mechanisms of photosynthesis, and then points towards the differences in light-capturing and carbon acquisition between terrestrial and marine plants. This is followed by discussing the need for a CO2 concentrating mechanism in most of the latter, and a description of how such mechanisms function in different marine plants. Part three deals with the various ways in which photosynthesis can be measured for marine plants, with an emphasis on novel in situ measurements, including discussions of the extent to which such measurements can serve as a proxy for plant growth and productivity. The final chapters of the book are devoted to ecological aspects of marine plant photosynthesis and growth, including predictions for the future.”

This is definetly on MY reading-list for the summer!