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Blog Posts by: Christina Abel

On Sunday morning, we left Sandhamn and sailed northwest to the Gulf of Bothnia where we will carry out more research on marine litter in the Baltic Sea. On board, we are divided into watch teams. This way, everyone takes their turn to work and carry out daily tasks, despite being as inexperienced in sailing as I am.

I was invited to take part in a research expedition in the Baltic Sea arranged by Örebro University and Pangaea Exploration, which I gratefully said yes to. The expedition has been running since the beginning of August, but I joined them on Saturday. So now I find myself miles from the nearest coast, on board the “Sea Dragon”, a Global Challenge Vessel, and part of a small but enthusiastic crew. The goal of this expedition is to study marine litter, a growing problem for the world’s oceans.

A little while ago, a number of Danish politicians, including the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karen Hækkerup, were invited to Helsingør, Denmark, to learn about the unique environment of the Sound, and to discuss the threats currently facing the sea. Oceana together with WWF, Greenpeace and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation hosted this event to put the marine environment on the political agenda; an environment which is easily forgotten as its life often are out of sight – hidden by the dark water.

Christina Abel - Marine scientistWe arrived in the harbour of Mariehamn in the morning, after having passed tens of smaller islands. Mariehamn is the capital of Åland Islands, which is an autonomous Swedish-speaking territory under Finland. Åland Islands consists of thousands of islands, situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia.

So, it must come to an end. Saturday the Baltic Sea Expedition finished. We arrived to Stralsund in Germany, where Hanse Explorer was going to be transformed back to its normal look. This job toke days, as everything had to be packed properly and send back to Spain, where lots of the stuff, including the ROV, is going to be used on Oceana’s next expedition in the Mediterranean Sea. But before arriving to Stralsund, we managed to do several underwater recording in the southern Baltic Sea. We did scuba diving and ROV dives in different offshore areas in Swedish, Danish and German waters.