Ecosystem Survey advances further
Here Frank Stensønes gives instructions on how bottom samples should be taken. Photo: Gunnar Sætra, IMR
Ocean scientists are studying areas further north and eastward during this year's Ecosystem Survey.
The Ecosystem Survey is a joint international research investigation conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO) in Murmansk, Russia. The survey is of the Barents Sea ecosystem and cruise coordinator Lis Lindal Jørgensen says that scientists take samples of "everything!"
“We take grab samples of the ocean floor to find out what lives in bottom sediments. We use a beam trawl to sample what lives in the water column. We also use pelagic trawls to sample organisms that live farther up in the surface waters”, says Ms Jørgensen.
The scientists also use sonar to estimate populations of different fish species and count everything that is brought onboard, including polychaete worms from bottom sediments; fish caught in trawls; marine mammals such as seals and whales that they observe; as well as birds. Pollution is also a concern, so water samples are taken and the amounts and types of trash that drift by are documented.
During recent years, Arctic ice has retreated further north and eastward, so marine scientists have expanded the areas which they investigate accordingly to try to determine if organisms are extending their range of distribution in response to the retreating sea ice.
As a consequence, the Norwegian research vessel Helmer Hanssen will travel further north of Svalbard than it has previously and the Russian vessel Vilnjus will venture further north and eastward of Franz Josef Land.
Ms Jørgensen says that survey results are used as the basis of the scientific advice provided to set future fishing quotas.
In total there are four research vessels taking part in the Ecosystem Survey: three Norwegian (G. O. Sars, Johan Hjort and Helmer Hanssen) which cover the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea; and one Russian (Vilnjus) that covers the Russian part of the Barents Sea and the areas east of Franz Josef Land.
The Ecosystem Survey ends in late September/early October.
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