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Published: 2022-09-19

Bottom vegetation being monitored in the Gulf of Bothnia

NEWS This year, divers from Umeå Marine Science Centre (UMF) examine the bottom vegetation in the Gulf of Bothnia. The new assigment is part of the national environmental monitoring programme and is an important piece of the puzzle for assessing the status of the marine environment.

Text: Markus Nordin

Selected areas along the Swedish coast are surveyed annually to detect long-term changes in the marine environment, caused primarily by changes in visibility, nutrients and physical impacts. For UMF, the mission is new as of this year, and four employees have undergone dive training to take on the task. 

"It feels great to be involved from the start now, that the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea is also included in the national monitoring programme for bottom vegetation," says Jenny Ask, researcher and environmental analyst at UMF.

”Previously, areas north of the High Coast have only been surveyed sporadically, but now we will visit these areas on a regular basis, every year. This year we have visited the Råneå archipelago and the Gaviksfjärden off Nordingrå, and next year we plan to include one or two more areas.”

In Råneå, where the bottoms are mostly soft-bottomed and sandy, the vegetation surveyed is dominated by aquatic plants and stoneworts (Charophyceae). In Gaviksfjärden, the bottom vegetation is dominated by macroalgae, such as bladderwrack, which grows mainly on hard bottoms.

In addition to regular environmental monitoring, the divers from UMF are also involved in a project on the High Coast, investigating areas around discontinued fish farms.

”The survey is unique as we now have the chance to closely study how an area recovers after fish farming. It is a broad study that includes water chemistry, bottom vegetation and benthic animals," says Joakim Ahlgren, environmental analyst at Umeå Marine Science Centre.