Today was the last day of the Oceana Baltic Sea Expedition. At least, formally. I concluded it in a presentation and press conference at the University of Sczcecin (Poland), where the Dean, Professor Andrzej Zawal, welcomed and introduced the event to thirty or forty university academics. It was an excellent opportunity to tighten up our contacts with the research professionals and establish links that will allow Oceana to create synergies and collaboration with them. Andrzej Bialas, our Polish campaigner and Michael Michalitsis, one of our field researchers in the area, did excellent work organizing such a successful event.
Once the presentation at the University finished, I organized my transfer across the German boarder to Berlin, where tomorrow, early in the morning, I have to take my flight to Madrid. As the convoy of Oceana vehicles had already left back to Spain yesterday leaving me behind, (they have 3,000 km, more than 3 days to get there), I tried to get a regular bus to take me to the airport in Germany. It seemed OK at the beginning, but the company I chose could not fill their vehicle with enough passengers, so finally I ended up in a taxi, packed with four other unknown persons in a three-hour highway journey. Fortunately, I had my computer and my headphones, so I could enjoy a couple of old episodes of “The Sopranos.”
It was an unusual end to a remarkable five-week expedition. With our three vehicles we have driven 7,000 km along the Baltic Sea coast and through the roads of eight of its nine nations. With our customized large rigid inflatable boat we explored 25 coastal areas in Denmark, Sweden, Finland (including the autonomous Aland Islands) and Poland. We carried out 50 ROV operations totaling 22 hours of high definition filming, from 3 to 40 m depth. We also carried out 20 scuba dives with HD video and photo cameras between 2 and 23 m depth. As a result, 6,000 new photographs will be incorporated into our files.
Now it’s the time to start analyzing in depth the results of the expedition and use the information we have collected to advocate for better legislation, management and implementation of the fisheries and habitats conservation policies in the Baltic Sea. Oceana will keep carrying out initiatives to contribute to the protection and recovery of the unique ecosystems of this region.