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Blog Posts by: Jorge Blanco

6:00 – The raise the anchors while we’re still in bed, with a long trip ahead to our first diving spot, we set-off earlier than usual. 

6:45 – Various alarm clocks ring at the same time, signaling another day of hard work lie ahead.

7:00 – The smell of a freshly-made food reaches its way to our bunks, Cris has our breakfast ready. Carlos, he’s in charge of the toasts.

“Pass me the coffee”.

“Anyone want more toast”?

“What’s in this juice”?

“Cris, is there any yoghurt”?

Being the last diary entry I’ll make on this expedition, I’ll try to tell you, from a personal viewpoint, what I’ve felt throughout these past, intense days.

The scientists on board, led by Ricardo Aguilar, have already classified some 70 species. As you can imagine by now, this is despite the fact that out of dozens of dives, we’re only able to document small variety of invertebrates, fish, plants or algae at a time.

Driven by a weather report of increasing winds, we jumped into the water earlier than usual near the island of Bullergrund, near Vaasa.

The dive was similar to the ones we did yesterday: we dropped down to 8 meters and were unable to position the metallic frame we use for sampling because it kept on sinking into the muddy seafloor. The visibility here is a bit over half a meter and it took us 30 minutes to walk underwater from the from the shore using our compass as the only guide.

I was so happy to manage squeezing-in the opportunity in my schedule to visit our expedition in the Quark. And, equally, I was happy that my visit fit within the expedition's schedule as well. It would have been such a pity to miss this chance while the crew was in Finnish waters.
 

Our workday started today just like it did in my previous diary entry: we were visited by journalists, only this time they were from the Finnish newspaper, Pohjalainen. Later, before heading to our new port of Vaasa, we conducted a dive in the area near Holgrundberget, in rather murky waters at a maximum depth of 3,5 meters.

Today we continued conducting inventories in the beautiful Quark archipelago, unfortunately we couldn’t use the drop-video camera because it rained the whole day.

This doesn’t impact the diving though, so our talented divers carried out two dives as usual. The rest of us got a much-needed opportunity to catch up with some of our other work, such as checking samples and sending e-mails.

In this part of the Baltic, you notice the connection between the land and sea, fresh and salt water, best. A brackish environment, the most common species here are those typically found in lakes and rivers, albeit for a few bivalves, saltwater fish and marine algae.

Foxes and minks lurk about the rocky coast and the plants seem to crawl onto the land. The low horizon makes it difficult to discern where the water ends and land begins or telling apart a lake from the sea.

With Swedish waters behind us, we set-off for the second part of expedition in Finland. Our welcome here couldn’t have been any better: just a few miles after crossing the “border”, we arrived in an Marine Protected Area (MAP) for seals. Anchoring isn’t allowed within a MAP, so we anchored northeast of the zone and, within a few minutes, had our first visit…

At 6 a.m. in the morning, my mobile phone’s rang; we had to make the most out of our time in the Baltic. An hour later, we set out in to a dense forest in search of the one of the most beautiful mammals: the moose. 

But, none of the four of us that went out saw any—one day perhaps…

Later, we conducted our 11th dive in Swedish waters. The salinity here is very low, around 3 parts per thousand.

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