Alisma plantago-aquatica, photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.
Metsähallitus marine team has just found a hidden underwater gem: Simo, Finland. We have been roaming the river estuary and the islands near the shore, the inland lagoons and the island flads, for two weeks now, and been astonished.
Regardless of the method – scuba diving, wading, SUP-boarding, drone, video, rake or snorkeling – we stumbled upon endangered species, fields of them. We found more species of water mosses than anywhere else, we found aquarium-like lagoons with hundreds of endangered individuals of water pygmyweed, Crassula aquatica, and dozens of other species which we rarely see, and we found completely new populations of endangered Persicaria foliosa. If we have never encountered an underwater species in the Northern Bothnian Bay, we were sure to see it here in Simo.
We drop down the video camera, see water mosses on the computer screen, throw the rake and the catch of the day is one or two species of regionally threatened water mosses. Night after night we fill in paperwork for endangered species, compress samples to be saved at the Botanical museum of Oulu university, grumble about the hard work that the endangered species have caused us, but at the same time are happy about finding new populations of rare species.
We spend an hour after hour at the microscope identifying species, and the samples keep piling up from new inventory places in Simo. We complain about the amount of samples, but at the same time are happy about the versatility of the underwater nature here in Simo.
This is why we are in the business of nature conservation. To find places like this.
Written by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus