Van Mijenfjorden activities

Yesterday, we stopped in Van Mijen fjord to deploy CTD’s, collect grab samples of the benthos (the bottom of the sea floor), and zooplankton data using a multinet.

Mud from the grab sample.

Associate Professor Tove Gabrielsen (University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS) is part of the FAABulous project, another research project under the Mare Incognitum project umbrella. The FAABulous project, or Future Arctic Algae Blooms and their role in the context of climate change, studies the ongoing changes in Arctic primary production due to decrease in sea ice over and the resultant changes in light conditions. Eva Leu, another member of Mare Incognitum, is the project leader.

Tove studies microbial protists (organisms made up of a single cell), and she identifies small protist species and further investigates drivers in protist community composition in Svalbard fjords. As seen in the photo below, Tove is taking the top centimeter of the grab sample from the benthos to analyze later at UNIS.

Tove working on the grab sample.

Associate Professor Janne Søreide (University Centre in Svalbard, UNIS), also took samples from this fjord. In addition to teaching a sea ice course in Van Mijen fjord, she is interested in the zooplankton community structure in this fjord system. What is the ecological role of ice in Van Mijen fjord? It is documented that small creatures use the tiny cracks and crevices in sea ice as a nursing area. If ice disappears in this fjord system, can these small organisms survive without the ice? To answer these questions, Janne and her master’s students will study what organisms are living in this fjord and who is using the ice habitat. Janne looked at the rest of the grab sample to look for any ice-associated meiofauna (small benthic invertebrates) and any adult organisms that produce meroplankton (larval stages of larger organisms like sea stars, urchins, and mussels).

Janne looking for organisms.
Rinsing the mud away to look for benthic critters!
She found some polychaetes (worms) and mussels.

-Erin Kunisch (PhD candidate, UiT)