An Educational Trip along the Coast
About two hours north of Gothenburg on Tjärnö, by the Koster fjord, lies one of the two stations that make up the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Infrastructure. For a few years an annual visit to the centre has been arranged by Welcome Services to give international researchers and staff the opportunity to learn about the research conducted there, as well as about the nature and the wildlife in the area.
On April 25, after a scenic bus ride, a group of enthusiastic guests arrived and were greeted by Martin Larsvik, a marine biologist and the information secretary at the centre. After everybody had gotten a cup of coffee and a sandwich he held a presentation were he talked about marine research and also explained why the centre is located at Tjärnö.
“There’s a reason you travelled all the way to the north of the Swedish west coast.”
We have found more than 200 species here that cannot be found anywhere else in Sweden
One of the most important reasons behind the choice of location is the water depth. There is a fissure fault between the Koster islands and the Swedish mainland resulting in a depth of almost 250 metres, which is dramatically deeper than along other sea stretches that close to land. The salinity in the bottom water has led to a vast biodiversity, and a plethora of species that one otherwise would have to venture far away from the mainland in order to study.
“We have found more than 200 species here that cannot be found anywhere else in Sweden,” continued Martin Larsvik during his presentation.
The main research areas at the Sven Lovén Centre are marine evolutionary biology, marine chemical ecology and macroalgae aquaculture, meaning that seaweed is farmed and harvested there. Macroalgae has a broad variety of usage, and can among other things be used to replace some plastics, hopefully leading to a more sustainable way of life.
“When you cultivate macroalgae it is like a circle where everything is utilized. Our way of thinking in regards to sustainability should be circular, and not linear, like it is today.”
There is also an aquarium at the Sven Lovén Centre at Tjärnö, which the guests got to explore after Martin Larsvik’s presentation and a break for lunch at the centre’s restaurant. The aquarium is home to 200 species, which is more than any other aquarium in Sweden. It also contains an open water tank where the guests got the chance to pick up or touch the more resilient specimens, such as spider crabs, starfish and sea cucumbers.
After spending some time in the aquarium the guests got a guided tour of the premises, and got to see first-hand some of the stages of macroalgae aquaculture, take a look at a research vessel, a remotely operated underwater vehicle, and got to see, in a digital microscope, some of the lifeforms that can be found in a few tablespoons of sand. After the tour concluded the day-long excursion to Tjärnö drew to a close and the guests got on the bus headed back to Gothenburg, knowing a little more about Swedish marine ecology, as well as about how the University of Gothenburg can be a pivotal part of research and education outside the city limits as well.
Originally published 8 May 2019