After a seven months' voyage, the T/S Gunilla moored at the historic port town of Portsmouth this weekend (June 13-14 2015), while the project leaders of Virtue, Susan and Mikael stayed in a nearby hotel after a short flightfrom Gothenburg.
On Monday, we organised a Virtue workshop at the Institute for Marine Science (IMS) for 48 curious and interested high school students from Öckerö Sailing Upper Secondary High School and Portsmouth College. The day began with a presentation by the IMS and we were told of its impressive marine lab and field resources. The Institute has many years of extensive research on marine biofouling. In other words, we had really chosen the right location for our Virtue workshop!
In the morning, we had some trouble with our own digital microscopes, which abruptly stopped working. But it did not matter since the lab was equipped with 70 fantastic Leitz microscopes and stereo lupes. The staff at the IMS - Will, Laura Simon, Marc and Gordon - were also fantastic. They helped with everything from organising to species identification.
In the lab, high school students studied the fouling on Virtue discs from two different environments (Torekov in southern Sweden and Portsmouth in southern England) and compared the two. We had planned to include our special Virtue discs from T/S Gunilla (placed under Gunilla´s water line) in the study, but the cost of £1450 for five professional divers was way too steep for us. Instead, these discs will be removed when the T/S Gunilla is back in its home port again.
Fouling was different between the two environments. The Swedish discs had hung out for a year, while the British had only been in the sea for three months. Yet the British fouling was not far behind the Swedish, in terms of growth. The marine fouling organisms were also different. On the Swedish discs blue mussels and barnacles were dominant while the British were covered with sea squirts. The students were also studying algal growth (from other areas) under the microscope. The workshop ended with a field exercise. We all went to the local marina to collect marine organisms from the jetties. Students were equipped with life jackets and handed a bucket and paint scraper to collect the fouling, which were taken to the lab for further microscopic studies.
After 3.5 hours of intensive work, the students gained new energy by tasting food from the sea, which was sponsored by the EU project Sea for Society. The next item on the schedule was a lecture on ship worms and other wood-eating marine organisms. Professor Cragg talked about how researchers study which type of wood that best meet the infestation of such organisms. Students were also given a guided tour of the IMS before going to the T/S Gunilla for a "Swedish fika" or coffee and cakes.
In the afternoon it was time for us (Susan and Mikael) to inform 15 invited secondary school teachers about the future plans for the Virtue Project in Portsmouth. The teachers were very positive to the proposal. And so were we!
This projectwas funded by the Hasselblad Foundation.
Susan and Mikael