Children on a beach.
The Children's Summer Lab is a popular activity for the younger ones. During two morning sessions, they get to explore life in the sea together with pedagogues from the Tjärnö laboratory.
Photo: Lova Eveborn

Record interest in Tjärnö's activities this summer


Every summer, the marine research station on Tjärnö opens its doors to the public. This year, interest in life below the surface was record high.
- We had over 5,000 visitors, which is the highest number since 1998, says Martin Larsvik, responsible for the station's outreach activities.

Sweden's most species-rich aquarium, tours with the stations research vessel, crab fishing and popular science lectures, are some of the activities offered to visitors at Tjärnö marine laboratory this summer. This year, an unusually large number of people were attracted to the research station, which is located on the edge of the Kosterhavet National Park, just over a mile from Strömstad.

– The rainy and windy summer weather can be an explanation for the high number of visitors. The fact that we offer interesting activities and have good guides is another reason, says Martin Larsvik.

The touch pool attracts both young and old

Tjärnö Aquarium had the the most visitors. The big magnet is the touch pool, which attracts both children and adults to wet their hands in the cold water and pet sea cucumbers and other unkown sea creatures.

– There are very few other public aquariums where you can hold the animals. But being able to feel a sea cucumber or a sea urchin means that you experience the sea with several senses. And we have staff present who make sure the animals don't get hurt, says Martin Larsvik.

The popular science lectures give visitors a chance for direct contact with the researchers and to ask questions. This year's lectures dealt with, among other things, the gas leak from Nordstream, the fantastic adaptability of cod and climate change in the sea. The lecture "How is the sea?" with Tjärnö Laboratory's station manager Professor Kerstin Johannesson, was of greatest interest.

Two people stand leaning against a pool with starfish and other sea creatures.
Lova Eveborn and Christian Nilsson were this summers communicators at the Tjärnö laboratory.
Photo: Susanne Liljenström

Presents current research

By opening up in the summer, the Tjärnö laboratory wants to create interest in research and increase knowledge about the sea.

In addition to lectures with researchers, an exhibition about ongoing research projects is often displayed. This year, visitors could follow on a computer screen a research expedition with deep-sea biologist Rhian Waller off Alaska, USA. As a complement, the aquarium's communicators gave mini-lectures where they told about the unknown life in the deep sea and showed films and pictures.

– We want to be an arena for research and education at the University of Gothenburg. People want to know and we want to tell, says Martin Larsvik.

– I am convinced that we also contribute to student recruitment, that we have stimulated many young people to seek a marine education. Although there are no statistics, there are plenty of anecdotes to show that this is the case.

Text: Susanne Liljenström

Facts about the Tjärnö Laboratory

Tjärnö marine laboratory is a marine research station at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg. Around 70 people work here all year round with research, teaching and collaboration. Every year, the station is also visited by thousands of university students, visiting researchers, school students, government officials and other interested parties. During the summer, various activities are arranged for the public, the rest of the year schools and other groups are welcome to book a visit.