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6 Posts tagged with the climate_change tag

After filling our water tanks and having breakfast, the Halton left Bergen harbor for our first diving site in Vatlestraumen on Sunday morning.


Leaving Bergen.JPGLeaving Bergen on Sunday morning.


This location is of interest to the bryozoan team because a species list was done in the area by Professor John Ryland (University of Swansea) back in the late 1950s. After dive checks are completed the bryozoan team jumps in.


checks_before_dive.JPGHamish supervising dive checks with Piotr.


Bryo_team in water.JPG

Joanne, Piotr and Sally about to dive.


As the Halton circles, waiting for the divers the return to the surface, the Norwegian coastguard arrives and asks us to move from the area as the police are undertaking a missing persons search. With bryozoans and rocks on board, the days dive plan is hastily revised and we head for Åskenset, a short steam away.


The horse mussel team, which consists of Dr William (Bill) Sanderson, Prof Hamish Mair and Rebecca Grieves from Heriot Watt University, are looking for maerl (coralline red algae) and horse mussel beds as part of their biogenic reef project.


mussel team.JPGBill and Rebecca waiting to dive while Hamish supervises.


After half an hour down, the divers come to the surface – it has proved unsuccessful and we move on. After a 2 hour steam through some narrow fjordic passages, we arrive in Herdlefjorden at a site commonly known as the Shark Wall. This vertical wall is unusual due to the shoals of tope (a small shark species), which congregate in these waters.


Piotr ready to go.JPGPiotr clutching his camera about to go down to the Shark Wall.


This would finish off the day’s underwater activities before the Halton started to steam north through wonderful Nordic scenery. Several hours later, we moor up overnight. The work for the day has not finished, however, as microscopes come out and Mary and Joanne review the days samples.



Bryozoans on rocks from Vatlestraumen.



Bryozoan zooids seen down the microscope.


More diving in the coming days. Check back for more soon!


Saturday brought another sunny day in Bergen. During the morning, all the luggage and equipment had to be transferred from the hotel to the boat. Amazingly we got everything, including the buckets and ourselves, into a large taxi for the short journey to the quay where the MV Halton was moored.


The luggage-blog.JPGJoanne and Sally with the luggage outside the hotel.


MV Halton-blog.JPG

The MV Halton at the quayside in Bergen.


After loading, Mary, Joanne and Sally went through the Bergen Fish Market to catch a bus bound for the cable car up to Mount Ulriken. The market sells everything from live crustaceans, such as king crabs through to cavier and dried fish.


Fish stall-blog.JPGFish stall in Bergen Fish Market.


King crabs-blog.JPGKing crabs for sale.


The bus dropped us off at the cable car where we found ourselves in the middle of a wedding party, who were heading up the mountain for the wedding ceremony! At the top, we got great views out across Bergen, looking down towards our first proposed sampling area for the next day, Vatlestruamen.


View from Mount Ulriken-blog.JPGView from Mount Ulriken.


By the time we returned to the Halton, the rest of the expedition party had arrived, including the eminent Norwegian underwater photographer, Erling Svensen.


Loading gas tanks-blog.JPG

Loading the gas tanks onto the Halton.


The evening was spent settling in, loading, arranging and checking all the equipment for the following day, and listening to the sounds of Iron Maiden drifting across the water from their open air concert in the city!


As part of the background research for our expedition to the Norwegian Fjords and prior to joining the research cruise, Mary and I paid a visit to the University Museum of Bergen. The aim was to investigate bryozoan specimens collected from deep water around the coastline of Norway during the recent MAREANO project surveys.


The Bergen museum was actually founded in 1825 - they moved to the current building in 1866, and it is divided into two departments. These encompass Natural History Collections and the Cultural History Collections. There are also public events and exhibitions. The museum is situated within the grounds of a former Botanical gardens.


Bergen Museum.jpgRenovations underway at the University Museum of Bergen.


The building is currently being renovated, so in order to view the holdings of the bryozoan material, we were hosted by curator Jon Anders Kongsrud, and taken to University of Bergen Marine Biological Station by the waterfront at Espeland. The lab is situated in a lovely bay, and it was great weather with sunshine and blue skies, paradise for a marine bryozoologist .


Enjoying the sunshine at Espeland Marine Biological Station.


We spent an industrious morning at the microscopes, viewing the MAREANO material collected in 2009. Among the samples were specimens collected from deep water stations around 2,000m, and we were able to identify some interesting species.


Jo at Microscope.jpg

Identification under way in the lab at Espeland.

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    Samples from the MAREANO collection.

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A species of Bicellarina from the MAREANO collection.


This was an excellent opportunity to meet some of the staff and to enjoy the Norwegian hospitality. After lunch we were introduced to Emeritus Professor Brattegard, who has been compiling a checklist of the Norwegian bryozoan fauna, which he shared with us. His long experience in studying the distribution patterns of Norwegian marine life meant that he could also suggest some interesting locations for us to go and survey.


Following the visit, the last task of preparation for the day was to transport the consignment of sampling buckets from the marine station to the hotel in Bergen.


Mary with buckets in lift.jpg

Mary manouvreing our bryozoan sampling buckets.


Tomorrow we will be joining the diving vessel MV Halton at the Bryggen waterfront in Bergen, ready to load on board all the equipment and supplies needed for the survey. We will need a large taxi to transport all our dive gear and equipment from the hotel!


This week, I and 11 other marine scientists will be heading off to the Norwegian fjords to look at the effects of climate change on marine life. This includes four members associated with the Museum who investigate bryozoans (also known as sea mats or moss animals).


We are aiming to photograph and collect samples of current marine Bryozoa to assess changes in the species composition of the Norwegian fauna in comparison with historical surveys from circa 1900-1920 and 1963 in the Bergen and Trondheim areas. The collections will be done by SCUBA diving in the cold clear waters of the Norwegian fjords.


We are investigating to see if the species biodiversity has changed in response to increases in sea water temperature. The team will also be surveying artifical structures to look at patterns of distribution of non-native and invasive bryozoan species in north European waters.


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A colony of the bryozoan, Cellaria sinuosa growing on a rocky wall.


An electron microscope image showing the colony units.


The bryozoan research team consists of four members:


  • Mary Spencer Jones: Bryozoa and Entoprocta curator at the Museum
  • Dr Joanne Porter: Scientific Associate at the Museum/Heriot-Watt University Associate Professor
  • Sally Rouse: Heriot-Watt/Scottish Association of Marine Sciences PhD student and former Natural History Museum Encyclopedia of Life Rubenstein Fellow
  • Dr Piotr Kuklinski: Scientific Associate at the Museum/Institute of Oceanology Poland Associate Professor



The bryozoan research team: Mary Spencer Jones, Dr Joanne Porter, Sally Rouse and Dr Piotr Kuklinski.

The expedition kicks off on Saturday 28 June when the team join the research vessel MV Halton in Bergen and get all the equipment loaded on board. Joanne and I are making a visit to the bryozoan collection held at the Bergen Museum of Natural History prior to joining the cruise. Just time for a bit of final last minute packing before we head off on Thursday morning!


For more information on bryozoans, have a look at the Bryozoa of the British Isles Scratchpad website.


Mary Spencer Jones


Artist Chrystel Lebas and Museum biologist and botanist Kath Castillo are exploring the E J Salisbury collection at the Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens Archives. They hope to use Salisbury’s images of Scottish landscapes to reconstruct environmental change over the last 50 years.



Article in the New Scientist 11 June 1959, Courtesy of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Library & Archives.


Chrystel and Kath began looking for clues that could reveal more about Salisbury’s research on ecology and botany through his methods of recording data, his travel journals and field notes. Delving into the 30 boxes of Salisbury’s documents has also revealed a small collection of hand written quotations, puns and limericks.


The Salisbury archive at Kew Gardens is currently in the condition in which it was received and will be fully conserved when resources allow.


img2.jpgMuseum biologist and botanist Kath Castillo and Artist Chrystel Lebas, researching the E J Salisbury collection at Kew Gardens. Photograph by Bergit Arends, project curator.


One of the notebooks found in Kew Library & Archives reveals a wealth of information including experimental data and research annotations on ecology. Courtesy of the Royal Botany Gardens Kew Library & Archives.


Funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation permitted Kath Castillo to join Chrystel on her research in Scotland. Kath, who joined the project in September 2013, provides the necessary scientific knowledge (botanical and ecological) that enables geographical and botanical determinations in the field, based on Salisbury’s recorded images in the same locations.

img4.jpgKath and Chrystel on fieldwork in Scotland, October 2013 (Photographs by Bergit Arends).


Kath and Chrystel began the research and comparative study in Rothiemurchus Estate, a privately owned Highland estate within the Strathspey, northeast of the river Spey, in theCairngorms National Park.



Kath and Chrystel comparing and searching for Salisbury’s locations from his landscape images in Rothiemurchus Estate. Photograph by Bergit Arends.


The project engages with environmental change, particularly in the Scottish landscape, and creates new understandings of the artistic and scientific gaze onto the natural environment and its representation. The project is supported by a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundationand the University of the Arts London.



Kath holding one of E J Salisbury’s photographs against the Rothiemurchus landscape. Photograph by Bergit Arends.


Above left: Kath identifying a specimen. Right: Chrystel photographing ‘Vaccinium vitis-idaea on remains of pine bole in Rothiemurchus forest’. Bottom: Chrystel recording a view of the fens at twilight.

The Salisbury collection has, until recently, remained un-catalogued and undervalued. A collaborative approach to these materials is important as the plates represent an important piece of landscape and wildlife photographic history – UK natural history and photographic history knowledge and expertise will be essential to unlock the arts and science potential of this collection.


The images represent a unique record of landscapes that may have changed dramatically. They are an irreplaceable piece of the scientific information that may be used to investigate environmental change, either through natural processes or the hand of man.


Photographer and filmmaker Chrystel Lebas is working on a collaborative project to observe environmental change in the British landscape using the the Sir Edward James Salisbury Archive.


image-1.jpgChrystel photographed by Kath Castillo (Museum biologist and botanist) on their first research trip together in Culbin Forest in October 2013.


The Museum holds a beguiling collection of unexplored landscape images and field notes taken by British botanist and ecologist Sir Edward James Salisbury, who was Director of Kew Gardens from 1943 to 1956. The collection of over 1,400 works was orphaned – an anonymous assembly of Kodak boxes containing silver gelatine prints and photographic glass plates kept in two large cardboard boxes. The images record natural environments, capturing in particular botanical information in the United Kingdom and Ireland, to which specific annotations on the regions’ ecology were added.


Around two years ago photographer and filmmaker Chrystel Lebas was introduced to the collection by Bergit Arends (former Curator of Contempory Art at the Natural History Museum). Chrystel Lebas and Museum botanist Mark Spencer (Curator of the British and Irish Herbarium), began to trace this important collection, which was assembled in the first third of the 20th century.


image-2.jpgThe images include close-ups of plants and sometimes a foot appearing in the corner of the frame, presumably to indicate the scale of the specimen, or sometimes a subject, a woman standing amongst the forest trees.


Each of the boxes containing glass plates were scrutinised to look for clues that could indicate the author’s name or any information that could relocate the collection. And finally one day, and after a couple of months researching the collection, Chrystel found a glass plate negative with a handwritten name on it: E.J Salisbury, and of course this was the moment that made us realise that this particular collection was extremely valuable!


image-3.jpg‘Edward James Salisbury: Prophet and propagandist of botany’ New Scientist, 11 June 1959.



Chrystel began travelling to Scotland on her own, prior to the research being funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. She started her research in the field and recorded the landscapes.


The focus of this project is on the Scottish landscape through Salisbury’s images taken between 1925 to 1933 in the following areas:

  • Arrochar in Argyll and Bute
  • the Trossachs National park
  • the Rothiemurchus Estate, a privately owned Highland Estate within the Strathspey, northeast of the river Spey, in the Cairngorms National Park
  • Culbin Forest, which sits on the Moray Firth between Nairn and Findhorn


The research contributes to a comparative landscape and botanical study spanning nearly 90 years.