Author: Laura Marín Samper, Pictures: Michael Sswat & Laura Marín Samper

After a long day of many hours analyzing dissolved oxygen samples, I was lucky enough to participate in an impromptu, Norwegian, late summer night excursion to the mesocosms. While having dinner, Dr. Michael Sswat told us that he wanted to videotape inside the mesocosms at night. It is when its dark that, with the proper underwater flashlights, you can tape all the really small, yet top predatory species living in the mesocosm bags. Some of these are cod larvae, jellyfish, and the herring larvae raised at the University of Bergen by Greg Börner (University of Hamburg), Dr. Arild Folkvord (Universitet I Bergen), Dra. Marta Moyano (Universitet I Agder), Maria Couret (Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), and Daniel Bruggermann (GEOMAR), specifically for this experiment.

Camera with lights inside the mesocosms at night

Besides wanting to see these beautiful organisms living in the water column, we had another incredibly relevant mission: releasing Dr. Michael Sswat’s and Maria Couret’s pets. While Michael was scuba diving, he found Manolito (1), the nudibranch, and brought it back to the research station. Then, Maria joined him in his search for bryozoans to feed Manolito with, which can usually be found living on kelp leaves, in between which they found Burbujita (2), the one-eyed lumpsucker. They kept them both in a large tank and fed them regularly with bryozoans and copepods, respectively. A few days later, Michael Sswat and Uli Kunz, an awesome visiting photographer, found Khaleesi (3), the hula skirt siphonophore. She was kept in a large aquarium and fed with tons of copepods as well. Nonetheless, it was time for them to go back home. So, we took advantage of the trip to the mesocosms to free them as well.

The issue is that darkness in the Norwegian summer comes really late, so we took off on Wassermann (one of GEOMAR’s boats) at 10:30pm and, how fortunate were we. The sunset sky was stunning. A myriad of shades of orange, pink, and purple covered the sky above the mesocosms and colored the surface waters. An experience worth sharing, the architects of which were Dr. Michael Sswatt, Dr. Carsten Spisla, Levka Hansen, Maria Couret, Greg Börner and me, Laura Marín.

Sunset at the mesocosms