Today was our first real day out at sea, ready with both ROV and divers to begin exploring the underwater beauty of the Sound, starting with the Swedish side. There is always a sense of anticipation as the ROV descends – what lies below, and will the conditions allow us to have a close look? In the Sound, one of the main challenges is dealing with the currents, which can be strong, change suddenly, and often run in different directions at different depths. Luckily for us, our partners from SEA-U have many years of experience working in these waters, which is invaluable for helping us to plan according to the conditions.
While the current was noticeable, our first dives with the ROV today didn’t disappoint, offering exciting first glimpses of the diversity of marine life. We were exploring an area we had thought might prove interesting, and were rewarded with a dense kelp forest, and nearby, horse mussels (Modiolus modiolus), which form one of the most important and threatened habitats in the Sound. All in all, a very good start. Then, just to cap the day off, we spotted a harbour porpoise, a species that is considered threatened throughout the Baltic Sea. At least, the others spotted it – I happened to be looking the other way at the time, and missed it. It was a high point though, for Hanna, to finally see one after three previous Oceana Baltic Sea expeditions without luck. Some first glimpses are harder to come by than others.