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April 13, 2011

Sailing in the northern direction

BY: Hanna Paulomäki


© OCEANA / Carlos Minguell


During the night we had been sailing in the northern direction, and this could indeed be felt when entering the deck in the morning. It was freezing compared to the earlier days in the Baltic Sea expedition. And this is only the beginning, since we are getting closer to the fast ice in the Finish waters. 

We started the day with at ROV dive in Gotland Deep, an area which is known for its low oxygen content in the bottom water, partly due to eutrophication. As expected we did not find any visible alive organisms on 240 meters depth. However, the visibility was surprisingly good. The situation of the deepest area in the Baltic Sea was emphasized for us, with the presence of plastic bags drifting on the bottom. The ROV technicians also spotted a wreck, with a tragic history which will remain unknown for us.

A couple of seagulls were watching us while we dropped the anchor at a sandbank in the middle of the Baltic Sea. We were going to do ROV filming of this interesting sandbank, called Klintsbank, which arises in the middle of the ocean. On 30 meters depth we filmed the habitat there, which was in a better stage than the Gotland Deep we saw earlier today. This place was not suffering from the lack of oxygen, which was shown by the presence of different mussel species, green algae and fish species, including the cod and the short-spined sea scorpion. Before sunset we made another ROV video just west of Gotland, where we filmed isopods crawling on the sand bottom.

In close cooperation with the captain Maggie Ettlin , Xavier Pastor planned the further voyage for the expedition. Many things are to be considered when planning the forthcoming steps in an expedition like this, such as the wind, currents, the ships standings, designation of biological interesting areas, which kind of filming approach to be used and etcetera. It can therefore be a challenge to get all the pieces come together, but with the experience from previous Oceana expeditions around the world, the planning is being succeeding.