SGU finally arriving at the scene for our first week of field work!

10 days ago our research ship Ocean Surveyor left our previous project on a bank in the middle of the Baltic sea where we have been surveying geology and habitats since early summer. After a three-day transit we arrived to the northern most outpost of the Swedish marine waters, Haparanda in the Bothnian Bay. This journey also marked the transition of working on projects related to the national marine spatial planning in the open ocean where much of our mapping have taken place the last few years, to a regional/local and coastal project in an Archipelago Sea with its own set of challenges. It’s so fun to finally be here!

A ship and a boat in a harbor. The crew is on the deck of the ship.
S/V Ocean Surveyor and our smaller launch “Ugglan” at Seskarö. Ugglan is equipped with similar survey equipment’s and sampling capacity as the mother ship but tailored for shallow waters and a small crew of 2-3 people

We have set up our first basecamp on Seskarö where a currently abandoned sawmill provide a sheltered harbor. Our first impression of Seskarö was welcoming locals (of which two paddled sea kayaks through our catamaran hull one evening:) and a beautiful island. The water also surprised us with good visibility and pleasant swimming in 23 degrees warm water as we took a first dip in the sea.

Small island with single tree in the middle of the sea.
At the moment the land is still rising in this area of Sweden. The lone tree tells the tale on our way to our survey! The low laying islands are beautiful to watch in the rugged landscape.

The unusual warm summer even up in the north have made many of us think more about how climate change will affect us in the future. As the northern outpost of the Swedish marine waters this region could be under even more pressure then other areas. This, along with the always important mission to understand our oceans better for more informed decision making, and to raise awareness and curiosity of the marine environment, make me feel that it is more relevant than ever that we are here and that a interdisciplinary mapping project like SEAmBOTH exists. If we are to have some idea of what the future brings and how we can adapt to those challenges, I believe it to be critical to have basic understanding and good maps of the present situation.

I, who writes this short blog, Gustav Kågesten, are working with mapping marine habitats and understanding human impacts on marine ecosystems for the Geological Survey of Sweden. I’m also currently starting up our part of the SEAmBOTH project.

Two men in the wheelhouse of the ship.
Gustav Kågesten (right) and Olof Larsson (left) surveying in the shallow waters outside Haparanda/Tornio with the small research vessel Ugglan.

So, what are we doing here and what have we done so far?

We work on mapping the Swedish side of the SEAmBOTH area with full coverage depth and geology data (3 – 70 meters depth, shallower areas will be mapped with laser from an airplane at a later time) as well as taking samples and videos/photos of the seabed. We also collect some oceanographic data as part of the survey. With help from the experts at SLU Aqua, we will also take samples of the animals living in the sediments (infauna). By combining the collected information in models, we can make maps of both geology and common organisms living on the seafloor in the area. To our help we use multibeam sonars, sediment profilers and boomers (looking deeper down into the seabed), ctd probes (salinity, temperate, depth), oxygen and current meters (the sensors sit on our UV-cameras together with a ctd), samplers and underwater cameras. Once we have got further along with this work we will post another blog and show you more results of what is down there 😊!

I think the rest of the story from our first week is better told in the images below.

Now pray for good weather so we get as much area surveyd as possible until the 4th of October when we leave the area.

Time to go out for another day of surveying!

Written by Gustav Kågesten, SGU.

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