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Trawling in the Baltic Sea

The impact of trawling on the seabed is currently being studied by Stockholm University together with maritime archaeologists at Vrak – Museum of Wrecks. Through diving, they can document the traces of trawling in the Baltic Sea. In partnership with other researchers, the museum can gain more knowledge about previously unknown nature and culture at the bottom of the sea.

To learn more about fish trawling in the Baltic Sea, last week the museum’s maritime archaeologists together with biologists and geologists from Stockholm University went out in southern Stockholm’s archipelago. In the waters outside the marine field station Askö Laboratory, they examined and documented the trawl tracks.

By using photo documentation and sampling at the seabed, the researchers want to understand the impact that trawling has on the bottom and the waters of the Baltic Sea. They’re trying to determine how long the traces remain and whether toxic sediment is stirred up in the water.

“There are strong ties to our field of research, because fish are often found near shipwrecks,” says Jim Hansson, the maritime archaeologist involved in the dive. “Trawl damage to wrecks is probably not uncommon. It seems like the sediments can hide the tracks in just a year and a half. You can imagine that lots of shipwrecks are hidden under the seafloor. And if so, how exciting is that?” he asks cheerfully.

The next time these researchers meet, they will focus on cultural heritage. Together with the museums’ maritime archaeologists, they will survey both the so-called Vasa pit, where the Vasa ship was found, and the seabed between Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen, two small islands right in the centre of Stockholm. Check back for announcements by the Vasa Museum and the Museum of Wrecks when they reveal the new knowledge that has surfaced.