The Underwater Map shows the way

Finally, you can see some of the lovely underwater nature from the Baltic Sea!

As a part of the project Naturkartan,(Nature Map) a Swedish project in the East Gotha county that aims to increase access and awareness to the nature in the county, they have also posted several short films, showing nature under the surface. Have a look at The Underwater Map (Undervattenskartan)and enjoy some summer, sun and lovely waters.

It’s wonderful to take a virtual swim and enjoy the greenery at this cold and bleak time of year. We hope that more coastal counties will pick up on the trend and choose to market their blue side.

The forrest under the surface is well worth a visit

The forrest under the surface is well worth a visit

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Dive transect on the Swedish west coast

During the summer, the BalticSeaWeed blog did al ot of fieldwork, both at Askö on the east coast and Tjärnö on the west coast.

Among other things, we performed an inventory of algae populations along two transects (laid out measuring tape) outside Tjärnö on the salty west coast.

The scuba diver swims from the beach with a tape measure that has been attached at the waterline down to the depth where no more algae grow. Depending on water clarity, this may vary from a few meters to more than 20 meters depth.

Once the algae end, the diver takes out her slate (the single most important tool for any marine biologist) and begins by noting the depth and how much of the tape measure that’s been rolled out. Subsequently, the diver notes down all the algal species she sees and appreciates how much of them there are, on a 7-point scale (1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100%).

When the diver has recorded all of this about the starting point, she swims slowly along the transect (tape measure) and continues to note the depth, length and species when it becomes a visible difference in the species that dominates, in order to produce a map of different “algal belts”.

Each “belt” is also sampled, using frames and bags. The diver uses a fixed size frame, which can be loose or attached to a bag, of a size usually 20×20 or 50×50 cm, depending on how many species and how much algae it is.

The diver puts the frame on the bottom, picks the largest algae by hand and puts them into the bag and then use a scraper to get off all the algae that grows within the frame and whisk them into the bag. It’s harder than it looks to work under water when everything is floating around.

For you to get an idea of how it works, Joakim Hansen, who helped out as dive buddy this summer, shared what he was filming with the BalticSeaWeed blog. Here’s how it looks when you scrape a frame.

Why, then have we done this, except that it’s very nice to go for a dive?

On these two sites, these inventories have been conducted for several years. In ecology, it is very important to have measurements that extend over a long period of time in order to see if there is a genuine change in the environment, or if it is just normal variations between years.

So during the cold, dark months, we will pick up our bags with frozen algae out of the freezer (there were over 30 of them), thaw them, sort them into piles according to species, dry and weigh and record in the protocols, thus getting the number of grams dry weight of each species that grew in each frame. By comparing our data with previous protocols, we can then see if it has become more or less of any species, and if any new species have appeared or if any have disappeared over the years.

“Cinema Seaweed”

Here in Sweden, the frost is making everything sparkling white, and our noses and cheeks red. So what could make us warmer than some Cinema Seaweed? During summer and autumn, several seaweed movies have appeared on YouTube. This is a trend that we hope will last.

Here are links to nice seaweed movies that we have come across.

Nyköpings municipality, just south of Stockholm, has really got the hang of how to show itself from its best side!
Here you can see the two localities Långskär and West Kovik. The gurgling sound you hear is when the snorkel is filled with water.

From Skälderviken down south in Skåne county we can see that both bladderwrack and serrated wrack have recovered. It is also shown that 2013 was an incredibly successful year for the brown algae Dead Man’s Rope (Chorda filum) along most of the Swedish coast.
The movie is by Virtuerack. Virtue is a resource for schools, created by the Faculty of Science at Gothenburg University and The Maritime Museum & Aquarium in Gothenburg. They also have more movies where they show how cd-discs are being placed under a jetty in the sea and become habitat for several algae and animals.

Do you have any nice seaweed movies? Please let us know.

Seaweed in the Quark is now mapped

The Finnish Forststyrelsen, together with Länsstyrelsen Västernorrland and FOI have developed a method using LIDAR and SCUBA diving in order to make more large scale mapping of fucoid belts in the Bothnian Quark. This is a very important tool in environmental monitoring, since this can be used in calculating more exactly the areas of seaweed affected positively or negatively by environmental change.
To see the nice map of Norrskär that has been constructed, click HERE.

Seaweed project within BalticSea 2020

Anyone who is interested in the Baltic Sea might have heard of Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation.
Baltic Sea 2020 is a foundation founded by Bjorn Carlson through a donation of 500 million SEK (55 million EUR). The Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation’s assets shouldfund projects that are action-oriented, innovative and helps to improve the knowledge of the Baltic Sea continuously until 2020. The BalticSea 2020 Foundation began its work in 2006 and has to date initiated more than 70 projects, of which 25 are ongoing.

One of these projects is about trying to re-establish bladderwrack inside Björnöfjärden, a bay outside Stockholm. Björnöfjärden is heavily eutrophicated and the water is quite turbid with particles that prevents the light from penetrating. It quickly becomes dark below the surface, so that only a few stands of seaweed survive here. Observant locals have informed us that there was plenty of seaweed in the Björnöfjärd in the past, however.

So, seaweed enthusiasts to the rescue!

Susanne Qvarfordt is ready to establish bladderwrack.

Susanne Qvarfordt is ready to establish bladderwrack.

Susanne Qvarfordt from the environment surveillance company Sveriges Vattenekologer has initiated a project that will examine what factors might prevent the seaweed population from re-establishing in Björnöfjärden.
In addition, she asked the BalticSeaWeed blog to help with our expertise!

So, during the first days of June, we collected fertile tips of bladderwrack. These were sexed (we cut the receptacles and see if they are male or female), so that we would get an appropriate ratio of males and females at each site.

Sexing seaweed is best done with a scalpell and a magnifying glass.

Sexing seaweed is best done with a scalpell and a magnifying glass.

The bladderwrack were made into small beautiful fertile bouquets which were then attached to a grid. These will be placed in the water, floating over a number of concrete plates, and hopefully make new small seaweed babies that can attach itself to the plates.

All is ready for a baby boom!

All is ready for a baby boom!

So, now we have placed three grids in Björnöfjärden and three in nearby Fjällsviks Bay, to see if any of the other actions carried out in Björnöfjärden will affect the seaweeds ability to reproduce.
So, keep your fingers crossed that no one gets caught with their anchor or fish tackle in our beautiful grids, and hope for calm weather at Midsummer full moon so that there will be many wee ones.

Placing a seaweed grid with buoys.

Placing a seaweed grid with buoys.

World Water Day dip

On Thursday 21st, we sneak started the International World Water Day with a dive outside the water museum Aquaria located on Djurgården, in central Stockholm.

The sun was shining from a clear blue sky and the water was almost three degrees Celsius. Ideal for a dive.

The audience was a primary school class of around thirty VERY interested young children. In order for them to experience what I do, I had kitted up my full-face mask with both a wireless talk communication (Buddy Phone) up to the surface, and an underwater filmcamera, connected by hose to a large TV-screen. The camera was kindly lent to us by SVENTAB. Thank you!

Aquaria

P4 Radio Stockholm was on location and broadcasted live from shore (in Swedish).

A lot of people seemed to think it was madness getting into the water at this time of year. But with a good dry suit (I dive with Ursuit Red-Q and SiTech ring system for dry gloves) and a full face mask, I don’t get as much as a drop of water on me. I was probably the warmest one of all that day. Underneath my drysuit, I wear a thin wool underwear and then a Fourth Element fleec underwear over. Very toasty!

Lena Kautsky managed the surface end of the Buddy Phone and passed on questions from the children. She also told them about how seaweed function like forrests of the sea.

During the dive, I found a lot of beer cans an bottles, seaweed and a treasure chest full of candy!!

Dykare

Join us diving for seaweed

On Thursday, you can join us under the surface and experience what it is like to scuba dive WITHOUT GETTING WET OR COLD!

How on Earth will that be possible?

On Thursday 21st we will have a sneak start on World Water Day! Come to Aquaria and join the BalticSeaWeed blog, who will get into the water to check on a seaweed experiment. You can also help feeding the animals at Aquaria and get answers to everything you’ve always wanted to know about fish, and much, much more.

The program (in Swedish) is HERE, and the press release from Stockholm Universitety (also in Swedish) is HERE.

See you Thursday!

EllenS