Archipelago Research Institute

Field station full of stories

Author: Katja (page 1 of 4)

Sailing through the North Sea

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

Sometimes work takes you to surprising places. Last week, together with almost 100 other trainees, I boarded a three-masted steel barque Statsraad Lehmkuhl, built in 1914, and began a 6-day sailing voyage through the North Sea .  The sailing voyage from Bergen to Shetland islands was organized by TSYK merilukio, a local high school with maritime orientation, in order to celebrate its 10th anniversary. In addition to teachers, and current and graduated students from the school, I was joined by maritime students and personnel from Aboa Mare (a Maritime Academy and Training Center in Turku) and Novia University of Applied Sciences, a fellow marine biologist, researchers from The Forum Marinum Maritime Centre and two naval cadets from the Finnish Naval Academy. On Sunday 26.8, we set sails in Bergen, Norway and began our almost 500 nm long voyage.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

Our group, consisting of 90-something members, arrived to Bergen harbour on Sunday at 10 am. Despite of our expectations, we did not set sails immediately but were introduced to the ship’s safety instructions and rules first – as is appropriate. Our first activities at sea was a mast climbing exercise.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

On board we were accustomed quickly to the ships daily routines.  During the voyage, we slept in hammocks, which turned out to be surprisingly comfy.

Bergen Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

We participated as crew and actively took part in all aspects of sailing the vessel. Also training on various sailing-related topics was offered whenever possible.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

During our first day, our group was placed in 3 watch groups and each of us worked 2 * 4 hours a day. I was placed in a team called blue-watch, which worked during 08.00-12.00 and 20.00-24.00. During the voyage, one could participate in the vessel’s activities as much as one could and wanted.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

Climbing the rigging turned out to be the most popular activity during the voyage.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

In the Shetland islands, we managed to collect several interesting samples from a beach nearby St. Ninians Isle and studied the species together with the high school students. The many differences and similarities between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea were also discussed.

Bergen-Shetlannin saaret purjehdus

We sailed home in favorable wind conditions. Many oil platforms were seen in the horizon. Also, jellyfish, a baskin shark, a dolphin and three orcas were spotted during the voyage! Alas, the voyage has to end sometime, but new plans for collaboration have already arisen and hopefully we’ll sail together again!

Read also:

Text and pictures: Katja Mäkinen, research technician and phd researcher

Funding opportunity to conduct research at Seili

CALL NOW OPEN! The European project ASSEMBLE Plus has opened its second call for Transnational Access, where researchers can apply for support to conduct research at one of more than 3 marine stations distributed over 16 countries. This call will give the opportunity to gain access to a wide array of technologies and services in the fields of marine science. The TA funding covers travel, accommodation, access to labs, research services, and standard disposables (but not researcher’s salaries).

In Finland, Tvärminne Zoological Station (University of Helsinki), the Archipelago Research Institute in Seili (University of Turku) and Husö biological station (Åbo Akademi University) offer access. Finnish researchers cannot apply for access to the Finnish stations, but are encouraged to apply for access to some of the other partner institutions.

In this new call, applications can be submitted at any time. Applications will be evaluated in six rounds, with the next collection date being 28 September 2018.   More information can be found here.

The Archipelago Research Institute provide facilities for various types of research projects at a unique location in the middle region of the Archipelago Sea. Researchers working at the station will have access to the Institute’s long-term environmental monitoring data as well as are able to use the Institute’s research vessel r/v Aurelia or any of the smaller vessels. The institute’s staff also have good local knowledge of the sea area and are there to support for visiting researchers. For more information regarding the Institute and Seili island, please visit our website
or contact us.

Week in pictures: Brackish-water ecology course 2018

Did you know that field courses have been organized in Seili since the 1960s? This week undergraduate biology and geography students from the University of Turku arrived to Seili to learn about the special characteristics and ecology of the Baltic Sea and Archipelago Sea. During the course week, students participated in sampling cruises on board of the Institute’s vessels r/v Aurelia and Seili 5 and conducted several laboratory exercises. The course has been organized in its current state since 2003 and is teached by the staff of the Archipelago Research Institute. Here’s a photo roundup of the course week.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

After the introductory lecture at Turku University campus, it was time to start the  first sampling cruise from the Aurajoki River. At 10:00 sharp, we embarked on our research vessel r/v Aurelia and headed toward the first sampling point just outside the Aurajoki river. At Linnanaukko (named after its proximity to the Turku castle), the students got to observe the river’s effect on Secchi-depth, salinity, water temperature and bottom macrofauna.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

The sampling cruise continued along the Airisto inlet towards Seili island.  The water quality (temperature, salinity and oxygen content) was monitored with water samples, collected with a Limnos-water sampler as well as with a profiling CTD-sonde.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

On Monday, our journey was favored by the weather gods and the students were able to practice their sampling skills in calm and idyllic weather.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

Thanks to the good weather, we arrived to Seili on record time! Nevertheless, this meant no extra free time for the students as the day continued with an introduction to common Baltic Sea zooplankton species. The Institute’s new seawater laboratory was put to the test and found perfect for these types of exercises.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

On Tuesday, we embarked r/v Aurelia again at 08:00 and headed towards the outer archipelago . Weather forecasts showed heavy winds for the day so an emergency training exercise was in order.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

Marine research can sometimes be very laborous. Lifting the CTD-sonde, tied to a metal frame, from the 100 meter depth of Ådofjärden equates to a workout!

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

During the first two days several bottom sediment samples were taken with Ekman and Van Veen sediment grabs. Preparing the samples for sieving is also known as “mud-therapy”.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

Sometimes there is no choice but to change the course program due to apparent weather conditions. The heavy wind speed (11-12 m/s) forced us to skip beach seining at Boskär-island and we headed toward Seili a bit earlier than anticipated.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

But no worry! Soon after returning to Seili, the students started identifying macrofauna from the sediment samples. And how many interesting species there were! Especially polychaetes became familiar – Marenzelleria spp. abundances were at best up to 200 individuals/per sample.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

On Wednesday morning, on board of our Seili 5 vessel, we headed towards Iso-Kuusinen island in the middle archipelago.  On our way to Iso-Kuusinen, we stopped to take samples at Päiväluoto, the Institute’s at-sea monitoring station where water and plankton samples have been collected since 1966.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

At Iso-Kuusinen, the students were introduced to a beach seine, a qualitative sampling method used to study especially fish, but also invertebrate and algal species in the littoral zone.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

What would a brackish-water course be without getting our feet wet (well, sort of). At the sandy beach, the students were sent hunting for burrowing clams.

STL UTU murtovesikurssi 2018

The final sampling exercise of the week was fishing. Nordic multimesh gillnets were set at three depths (surface, middle and bottom) outside Saunasaari island, in order to study the variability in fish species, their size, weight and location in the water column. The handling of nets went perfectly and we were not left empty handed! After measurements were taken, the fish were put to a freezer and are later send to the University’s Biology department  for other students to study on.

Similar posts:

Field courses introduces to the surrounding nature (English summary at the end of the post)

New paper! Influence of environmental conditions, population density, and prey type on the lipid content in the northern Baltic Herring

Our new paper, where we investigated the effects of different environmental stressors on the lipid content of the northern Baltic Herring (Clupea harengus membras) was recently accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

In this study we collected herring samples from local trap net fishermen during 1987-2006 and 2013-2014 and analysed their lipid content and fatty acid composition. We discovered that the average lipid content of herring muscle has decreased on average from 5-6% wet weight (w.wt) to 1.5% w.wt. The decrease in sea water salinity and increased size of the herring stock explained best the declining lipid content. Also,  sea water temperature during January-April also had a significant effect in our modelling. We estimated that the amount of the lipid storage incorporated in the spawning stock decreased by approximately 45% during the study, with respective energy content decreases. Fatty acid composition analysis revealed that herring lipids contained a high proportion of essential fatty acids EPA (20:5n-3) and DHA (22:6n-3), which likely originated from its main summertime prey, the freshwater calanoid copepod Limnocalanus macrurus – a zooplankton species that has become highly abundant in the Bothnian Sea.

Global climate change can affect the energy content of fish by altering their lipid physiology and consumption.The results of this study illustrate that various climate change induced processes are leading to changes in the lipid content of the Baltic Herring and, consequently, to changes in the energy flows of the northern Baltic ecosystem.


Herring from the Archipelago Sea. Photo: Johannes Sahlsten

Rajasilta, M., Hänninen, J., Laaksonen, L., Laine, P., Suomela, J.-P., Vuorinen, I. & Mäkinen, K. 2018. Influence of environmental conditions, population density, and prey type on the lipid content in Baltic Herring (Clupea harengus membras) from the northern Baltic Sea. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (accepted for publication)

Read more about the project:

The Baltic herring project


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