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Blog Posts by: Hanna Paulomaki, Christina Abel

The Swedish side of Gulf of Bothnia appeared as its best to us; Easter Sunday was such warm and sunny day that working on a deck almost did not felt like work at all. We did ROV, grab and dive near Öregrund. In addition CTD was used to record the hydrography of the area. Visibility was not particularly good as expected, but we recorded many interesting species and features of the Baltic.

We started the day by doing a ROV video and taking a soil sample with the Van Veen dredge in a Marine Protected Area, which cover a beautiful archipelago at the Swedish coast to the Bothnian Sea. The weather was beautiful; sunny and calm. The ROV resolved a fine environment on 100 meters depth, with good visibility and we saw many scorpion fishes. As always when carrying out fieldwork, we experienced an unpredictable incident, a minor episode with the soil sample, which delayed us a little.

The weather has been excellent during the last days, which made it possible to do several dives and ROV video operations in the outer Stockholm archipelago. The variations in the depths in the archipelago gave a great opportunity to film the benthic organisms at different depths from 100 meters to 8 meters. We saw flatfishes, butterfishes, scorpion fishes and lots of mussels secured to stones. The male scorpion fish were protecting the fertilized white eggs and we also filmed the jellyfish dancing gracefully in the water at 90 meters depth.

We left Copenhagen in the evening of the 11th April and sailed towards the Baltic Proper. It was time to do the first scuba diving on this expedition, and the weather was just perfect for this. Four divers dived at a ridge in Kalmarsund – which separates the mainland of Sweden and Öland. The 2 degree cold water was not an obstacle for our divers, and the marine habitat was filmed and photographed intensively. Although the diversity of species is low in this area, we got interesting photos of horse mussels, scorpion fish and crustaceans, including isopods and shrimps.

The weather has not really been on our side today. We were treated with even stronger winds than yesterday, about 50 – 70 knots/hr, rendering any plans for field work impossible. Instead, we worked to identify the species we captured on video and with the dredge. Ricardo Aguilar, our director of research, has been an invaluable source of information in this process; he is truly a walking encyclopedia of marine species!

We left Copenhagen yesterday with butterflies in our stomachs. We are all very excited that the expedition finally started and we feel very fortunate to be part of such an experienced crew on this wonderful boat. During the night the ship cruised out from Öresund towards Kattegat with the aim of starting to explore the reefs and sandbanks of the area.