Log of an Earthwatch Project in the Summer of 1989
To see this document with picture labels: http://www.nclark.net/TidepoolsOfScandinavia.doc


Like many teachers, I received a partial grant to participate in the Earthwatch project, “Tidepools of Scandinavia.”  The Marine Biological Laboratory in Tjärnö, Sweden was the site of our part of the project, which was designed to study the differences between tide pools above and below the arctic circle.  Tjärnö is an island, connected by a bridge, to the land off the coast of southwestern Sweden.  Another group, later in the summer, continued the project above the arctic circle in Trömso, Norway.

The abstract proposal for the project stated, “The purpose of this study was to compare the ecology and chemistry of tide/rock pools in a region of normal day/night cycles (Sweden), to those in an area where there is continuous light during the summer (Norway). We propose to investigate both these sites by monitoring trends in selected biological and chemical indices at regular intervals during 50 hr. sampling periods.  The tidepools (flushed once/twice daily) and rockpools (filled only by rain or seaspray) that occur along the west coast of Sweden resemble those in other temperate coastal regions, such as we have studied for a decade along the U.S. Maine coast.  Typically, these systems show dramatic diurnal changes in water chemistry in response to cycles of biological uptake and release associated with photosynthesis and respiration.  The seashore pools in Norway will have been exposed to nearly a month of 24 hr. daylight by early July.  We hypothesize that the biology and chemistry of these pools will behave quite differently, having now adapted to a relatively constant light regime.  This type of study is significant in that we view each of these small, well-bounded pools as a natural microcosm of the marine environment, undergoing all the expected marine processes, but at amplified levels because of their isolation and small volume.  Photo-period response is difficult to quantify in larger, more complex systems, but would seem easier in the restricted ‘world’ of these pools.”

That said, I embarked on this adventure with seven other teachers, one 16-year old student, and a medical technologist, all living in the U.S (although Helen S., our medical technologist, was originally from Finland).  Dr. Theodore C. Loder from The University of New Hampshire, Mr. James Love from The University of Maryland, and Dr. Björn Ganning from The University of Stockholm, were our team leaders.

Most of this journal is made up of accounts written by members of our team.  Each of us was assigned to keep the journal for one day during the expedition.


I left Boston from Logan International Airport Friday morning on a TWA flight to Oslo, Norway, the airport closest to Tjärnö.  Upon arrival, I took a bus to the Oslo’s bus station and boarded a bus to Strömstad, Sweden.  Strömstad was the closest town to Tjärnö and was where a van was to meet us.  Prior to the trip, all the participants had been given Earthwatch patches to wear and stickers for our luggage.  By this means, I met several of the participants while on the bus.  We were duly picked up in Strömstad and escorted to Tjärnö.  I don’t remember much from that first night except that I was very tired and am sure the other participants were as well.
Ruth Andrione from Baltimore, MD wrote:
The amount of light outside at 4 a.m. really surprised me and made sleeping a little more difficult than usual.  The group assembled for breakfast at 8.  Many people were suffering from jet lag or travel fatigue.

Although many group members began traveling at different times and places, it seemed that the expedition began when seven of the nine members met on the bus to Strömstad the previous afternoon.  But the official expedition began at 9 when Björn gave a lecture on Sweden—it’s location, economy and politics.  Many in the group had traveled in Scandinavia on their way to Strömstad and had questions based on observations they had made.  The rest of the morning was devoted to a lecture/discussion on the oceans—depth, salinity and plant/animal life.

Lunch rescued us from the oceans and the strawberries and cream served for dessert gave us the incentive to go on.

At approximately 1330 (we were told to use 0-2400 time for all reports, so I’ll start now), we set out for the island where our tide pools are located.  Setting out was a scene from a B movie.  First we all had to put on and adjust life jackets.  And then take a few pictures.  Getting into (and out of) boats will take practice for some of us.  As my boat pulled away from the dock, we looked back and watched Ted’s boat moving, but still tied to the dock!!  I know we will get better at this! (I hope).

The island, Ihre Vattenholmen, was beautiful.  Within 50 feet of our docking point are several tidal pools.  We spent a lot of time observing these pools.  Björn and Ted explained differences in the pools and also demonstrated several of the instruments we will be using.  The held instruments seemed easy to use and we each had a chance to test for temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity and wind speed (usually higher if Jim is not in direct line with anemometer).

Moving along . . . . we came back, had dinner.  After dinner, Stuart and I were trained for kitchen cleanup (a very specialized field) while others washed glassware, worked on the Mac and hopefully relaxed.  Most people took a walk sometime today, a necessity after the second and third helpings most of us had at each meal.

The evening ended with a “welcome party”—another chance to eat!  Björn brought wine for the occasion although several members stayed with juice.  Each member introduced him/herself.  At first this seemed foolish because we had been talking, seemingly nonstop, all day.  But each person’s story proved to be interesting and filled with new details.  I was most surprised to learn that Stuart was already well known throughout Scandinavia.

I think our first day together as a TEAM was very successful and I look forward to working with the members and principal investigators of our group.

Peter Cassidy of Milton, MA wrote:

Despite Björn’s prediction of cloudy weather it is sunny today.  A few high clouds were in evidence this morning around 7:00 but these too seem to have burned off.  It’s about 65° with a light breeze.  Too bad we’ll be inside today.

Yesterday running, I spotted a hare and this morning on Lindholmen I came upon a small buck feeding in tall grass by the roadside.

Björn gave an overview of the different types of pools and some of the plants and animals which inhabit these environments.  I found the different reproductive systems of different organisms most interesting.

After a short break a film showing some of the ocean life in the depths from 0-60 m was shown.  Björn provided simultaneous translation.

Following coffee Ted began to introduce some of the “nuts and bolts” of our work.  Personally I’m a bit overwhelmed but feel it will make more sense once the practical application begins.

People seem a bit tired.  Lots of material, immerging jet lag, too much food (?), all contribute to fatigue.  But spirits seem good.  People lazed in the sun after the quiche and salad lunch.

This afternoon we were divided into teams and then 1 member of each team went with a P.I. (not sure what that is--principal investigator?) to do some set up for our research.  Teams are:

Peter C.
Stuart S.
Sally L.
Ruth A.
Diann R.
Nancy C.
Helen S.
Tuula J.
Helen H.

Jim worked with 3 of us to set up spread sheets on which we will record our data.  The group also used the refractometers.
Ted’s group worked primarily with the datalogger and managed to make some headway.  Further calibration will be needed for the O2 saturation reading and pH readings but progress has been made.  It (for me) is at least beginning to look like more than just a mass of numbers and tangle of wires.
Björn’s group discussed the method we’ll use to grid the pools and then practiced using the transect which we’ll use to determine height (above sea level) of each pool studied.

Amazing potatoes at dinner!

Some work continued after dinner.  Quiet here now 8:30.  Some out walking, others resting.  Ted is playing harmonica on the balcony.

Sun out again!

I, Nancy Clark from Taunton, MA, wrote:

It’s another gorgeous day in Tjärnö!  Breakfast this morning was at 0730, but Peter’s cheese omelet made it worth getting up a little early.

We met in the lecture room at 0830 to go over today’s schedule.  It was decided that Björn’s group would leave right away to survey the pools on the island and that sampling would begin tonight.  We were also told that we would have Wednesday off to go to town!  Ted’s group continued to work on the set up of the data logger while Jim’s group labeled bottles, completed the data sheets, and made sheets of directions for the various tests.

Lunch was mackerel and those delicious potatoes.  Then many of us sunned ourselves until we met again at 1315.

We gathered up all of our equipment and left for Ihre Vattenholmen around 1400.  Ted was waylaid trying to solve the problem of the lack of the modem cable needed to dump data logger data into the Macintosh.  His group followed shortly, however.  Björn’s group continued with the transects of the pools while Ted’s group set up the data logger and Jim’s group calculated the altitudes of the pools and drew the pools on a map of the island.  We all headed back for dinner at 1640.

After a dinner that was highlighted by the banana bread, it was announced that sampling would begin with team I at 2100 and 2400 hrs., followed by team II at 0300 and 0600, and continued by team III at 0900 and 1200.  Then all three teams will continue the cycle unto 0600 on Wednesday, July 5th.  Ted and Jim returned to the island to complete setup of the data logger and many team I and II members headed for bed to get some rest.  Helen H. and I, being part of team III, headed to Strömstad on bicycles.  It was an invigorating ride and we followed it with a sauna and dip (just me) in the ocean—a guaranteed way to get you relaxed enough to sleep.

While writing this I watched a gorgeous sunset and for the first time since I’ve been here, saw it get fairly dark.  That’s because it’s now 2330 and I’m ready for bed.

Helen Hoover from San Francisco, CA wrote:
July 4th began at approximately 0200 for Tuula, Diann, and Stu, members of Ted’s heroic Team II!  As they arrived at breakfast I was surprised to see them exhilarated, not exhausted by their early morning shift.  Their enthusiasm for tide pool sampling, while experiencing the quasi sunrise made others anxious to have the same “opportunity.”

After another good breakfast, with the exception of raisins missing from the oatmeal, Team III, Jim, Nancy, Sally, and I set off for Vattenholmen.  We arrived at 0830 and began sampling after checking the stirrers in each pool.  Ted and Björn’s teams had a well deserved rest after their late night/early morning shifts.

All ran smoothly for our team as I did the oxygen readings, Sally the pH, and Nancy recorded the data.  The wind splashed water in some pools which added intrigue, as well as our outing (by boat) to the island directly east of Vattenholmen.  Jim, our leader, in search of adventure in and unknown land, led us over rock outcroppings to a vantage point where we could photograph “our island.”

Lunch consisted of the largest “hot dogs” imaginable dripping with cheese and onions, salad and the ever familiar Wasa crackers and beverages.  A few members of Team II skipped lunch and enjoyed a well deserved rest.

We left for Vattenholmen at 120 and began our second set of samplings.  The weather was not as balmy as yesterday.  The wind was significant, but Nancy, Sally, and I managed to find a wind sheltered, sunny spot. As we three went for a wind burn, Jim took photographs and continued to explore the island.

At 1430 we returned, as Björn’s group took over the sampling.  Dedicated to relaxation, Nancy, Sally, and I took a long sauna and brief swim.  We noticed Stu in the lab hard at work on the computer.

An excellent dinner of fish in a tomato sauce, pasta, and salad was served.  The undisputed highlight of the meal was the patriotic and magnificent dessert of strawberries, blueberries, and oceans of vanilla ice cream.  Björn’s thoughtful display of an American flag (courtesy of Steve) made for a memorable July 4th.

After dinner Björn’s group returned to the island, Ted’s group had free time and my group walked to the nearby kiosk for our daily “Coke Light.”

At 1900 several of us went to hear Steve’s lecture—part of his course: “Life in Moving Fluids.”  It was interesting, though much too sophisticated for me to attempt a synopsis.

Ted’s group returned to Vattenholmen at 2015, Björn’s group arrive back “home” and Jim’s group worked in the lab re-testing salinity, pH, and plotting tide pool depths on the computer.

Around 2100 we honored July 4th with a “fireworks display” supplied by Sue.  An enthusiastic, international group gathered for the spectacle.  We took turns setting off the small firecrackers and the explosions thrilled all!  Perhaps a July 4th fireworks show will become a Tjärnö tradition!

2300.  Back at the “hotel” all is quiet, as I finish writing and enjoy the pink and blue sky.


Tuula Jesudason from Vacaville, CA wrote:

Beautiful sunny morning!  I don’t look forward to this talk of writing the log.  First of all, my literary skills are somewhat limited and secondly, I feel like a zombie having had so little sleep for the past 3 nights—after spending two nights on the “rock.”  But I guess I wasn’t the only one suffering from lack of sleep.  Our boss, Ted, didn’t make it to breakfast this morning.  Not at all surprising as he kept on longer schedule than the sun, and still goes on shining—on the move constantly, so he certainly deserves to sleep in!

Björn delegated the jobs for the morning.  Nancy working on the McIntosh, Helen doing the alkalinity testing with Jim, and lots of volunteers for bottle washing—even Peter!  A sigh of relief when Björn suggested that we could go back to sleep if we so desired, and as this mortal body of mine doesn’t seem to cooperate too well when the sleeping patterns are reversed—can’t fool Mother Nature (at my age), that’s what I opted to do.

Most of the people went back to Vattenholmen to collect the data logger—Jim working on finances, and Peter and Stuart feeding in the data at the lab.

12:00.  Everyone back for lunch, and then off to Strömstad for the afternoon in town.  Our first stop was the local liquor store (just to drop off a large quantity of empty bottles that we hadn’t consumed).  We had a leisurely stroll around this picturesque little resort town.  Souvenir hunting and visiting shops for typically Swedish articles and handcrafts, enjoying coffee + ice cream in the harbor against a backdrop of yachts and fishing boats.  At 4:30 Björn came to pick us up and we were aback in Tjärnö for dinner.  It was a welcome change of pace after our “hectic” pool research, so that we were ready to face Ted again at 6 p.m. to hear what exciting experiments he had lined up for us for tonight.

This evening, as it has become customary to all of us in one form or another (besides exercising our digestive tract in a Swedish fashion) we have also adopted other local customs to improve our physical well being, like suffering in the intense heat in sauna, swimming, walking, running, bike riding, and so on, and that is what we have been doing during our free time.  And I am convinced nobody has missed tubed (T.V.) entertainment in this group.

At 9:30 p.m. team II headed back to the island to do the regular rounds.  A little later team I, and Jim + Sally joined us for an interesting new project.  But I let Sally write about that.

Sally Levin from Columbia, MD wrote:

It wasn’t my shift.  I only went as a tourist to Ihre Vattenholmen to see the rare rite of “saran-wrapping” tidepools.  But, whether it was the beauty of the night or the enthusiasm of the participants, I soon found myself caught up in the frenzy of this ritual.  Soon I too was gathering flat rocks and helping to spread the Saran Wrap across pools A and B. I even found myself grasping the Saran Wrap from between Jim’s spread legs.  Had I lost all sense of decorum?

The one part of the ritual that was perplexing to me involved the filing of a leaky bucket with ocean water and the dumping of it into two almost dried up pools.  Peter did this part but could only do it successfully if Ruth held on to him tightly.  Maybe this was to appease the gods (or the grant money givers).  The entire process was exhilarating.  By midnight the ritual was over.  While Team II stayed on the island, I returned to shore with Team I and prepared for Team III’s 0230 departure for the island.

Team III set right to work taking readings.  The weather was changing—the air was very damp, but there was very little wind.  Several pools had a surface wind of 0.  In anticipation of a beautiful sunrise, we climbed to the “summit” of the island at 0345.  but the faint pinkish glow was quickly replaced by a dense fog that moved in and reduced visibility to almost nothing.

After a short walk around the island and a quick cup of tea (for some—hot chocolate), we began at 0420 to calibrate the pH meter and cycle through the tests.  Nine small pools and pools A, B, and C were monitored every hour for temperature and pH.  Every 3rd hour pools A and B had water samples taken for further analysis.  Scampering over rocks to reach the various pools made me feel somewhat like a mountain goat except I lacked the surefootedness.

0740 Team III returns to shore for breakfast and bed.  Team II is still sleeping and Team I heads off for the island.

1200 Lunch.  Report from Team I: stirrer in Pool B stopped working around 1100.  Saran Wrap is still in place.  And the sun did come out, but for a while!  Ted returns with Björn’s Team I to the island only to find stirrer merrily stirring away.  Björn’s Team I is a model of capability and efficiency in their testing, but somehow the pipette and pH probe  do not survive.  Team II (excluding Ted), who did the next shift, didn’t seem too upset at just taking temperature readings.

1700 Dinner—three kinds of soup (lentil, pea, an potato/leek) with rhubarb crisp and cream for dessert.  Delicious as usual.

After dinner Jim took Ted’s Team II to the island while Ted stayed to run ammonium tests on the collected samples.  Earlier (1500 hr) Team III had worked in the lab—Nancy entering data into the computer, Helen H. testing for salinity, and Jim and Sally doing alkalinity tests.

2000 Team III returns to Ihre Vattenholmen for the night sampling.  With total cloud cover there is no sunset.  It is windy and chilly.  We test hourly.

0000 Unceremoniously pools A and B are stripped of their Saran Wrap coverings, nutrients are added and the pools stirred by Jim using a boat oar (“bubble, bubble, toil and trouble . . . . “).  Nutrient samples were taken both before and after this nutrient adding process.

Returning to shore at 0050, Team III goes to the lab to wash filter tops and get other items ready for Team I.  Then Helen and Nancy head straight for the sauna.  Jim and Sally have some rhubarb crisp and then Jim head for the sauna while Sally (moi) trudges wearily off to bed.

Somehow the log for this day got misplaced!
It’s definitely too bad that this day is missing.  I do remember one highlight.  The guys in our group decided to shock Diann, our 16-year old, by getting naked in the sauna.  Even though all the Swedish students there never wore clothes in the sauna, we inhibited, American females never got up the nerve.

Hopefully someone from our group, who still has the missing page, will eventually read this log and send it to me: webmaster@nclark.net.

Helen Sheppard from Brentwood, MO wrote:

Team I finished the monitoring of the pools shortly after midnight.  Peter was the depth expert.  We thought it took a contortionist to take the surface wind speed until we took depth measurements.  It certainly wasn’t easy to get your eye level with the pool surface.  Ruth kept Peter on the right track by saying “the waves didn’t come this high.”  A gorgeous sunset occurred simultaneously with tea break on the leeward side.  We had visitors, Diann, Ted, Sue, and Mark.  After showing off “our” island we bid farewell to monitoring.  I’m the only one who fell into the sea, wise (1 foot only).  My hip is sporting the Swedish colors, blue and yellow.

Nancy was the only one of us at breakfast at 7:30.  Shortly thereafter, there were four and by 8:00 most of us were there.

Jim and I measured alkalinities and Nancy, Stu and Peter were working with the computers.  The rest went back to the island with contour maps and colored pencils.  They were estimating the % of the various inhabitants in each pool.  Helen H + Diann continued gridding the rest of the pools.

Everyone came back for lunch then returned to the island.  Before the equipment, data logger, electrode, etc. were packed, we checked the instruments (oxygen meter from data logger) with portable meters.  Snorkels and fins were brought out, the wet suits were too hard to get on.  The most hearty members swam around the island.  I didn’t bring a suit but soon discovered it wasn’t necessary!  We wanted a group picture so Björn asked a topless sunbather to take pictures with our cameras.  To our disappointment she sent her husband.  Stu and Peter jumped off the rocks on top into the sea.  Peter found more interesting girls on Sailto (?) beach.  It was sad to pack the Earthwatch flag and all our gear and head back to the lab to wash the salt off.

Helen H. and Diann didn’t come back until 1845 and a mad dash for our banquet at 1900.  This was the first time the girls had worn dresses and looked very nice.  Björn even wore a tie that went so well with his smile!  The tables had been put together in a T shape and had wind and roses on them.  The other class joined us for a festive dinner.  The group still sat together.  We had potatoes, salad, herring and prawns.  The prawns were harvested from the “Nereus” (best estimate—couldn’t make the word out) and cooked on board.  Björn asked us to throw the prawn shells in a separate container so they could be returned to the sea and recycles into more prawns!  Another gorgeous sunset as everyone gathered on the lawn in front of the lab.  The party continued in the “hotel” until wee hours of the morning including dancing. Quite a finish for an interesting week including a beautiful sunny day.



Sadly, it was time to bid everyone farewell.  We were again taken to Strömstad where people took buses or the train as Helen S., Peter, and I did.

Helen was originally from Finland and was going to visit her family.  She invited me to come with her (we had been roommates), but I had already planned to see parts of Sweden and Norway before I went home.

Before Returning to U.S.
Helen left us at Stockholm where she was to get a ferry to Finland and Peter and I stayed in Stockholm a few days.  Peter had found a youth hostel (one that would take someone my age) that, for $8 a day, supplied us with a place to sleep, showers, laundry facilities, a kitchen, snack bar, and even a pool table.  We stayed there for three days, touring various parts of Stockholm, and then I left for Bergen, Norway. (Don’t remember where Peter went from there.)

I spent two days in Bergen, after an eight-hour train ride, where I met a really nice woman from England and man from Ireland.  We spent the journey talking about our various countries and it turned out that the woman from England had been a nanny for a couple of years in my home state of Massachusetts.  Bergen was a fascinating place and beautiful.

I then stopped in Flåm, after one of the steepest train rides in the world, past a beautiful waterfall, where the train stopped briefly for shutterbugs like me.  On that ride, I met a woman from New Jersey  whom I lent one of my rain jackets to when we got to Flåm.  It was raining and she had no protection.  (However, she mailed it back to me when she got back to the U.S.)

Not being able to read the fine print at the bottom of my train schedule (it was in Norwegian), I ended up spending the night in Flåm and returning to Oslo the next morning.  I spent one night in a hotel in Oslo (which I later learned was a brothel—guide books don’t tell you those things) and flew back to the old U.S. the next morning.  I could expound on parts of this trip and add dozens of pictures, but this is supposed to be about my Earthwatch experience.


Although it was very hard work, my Earthwatch experience in “Tidepools of Scandinavia” was a very enjoyable one.  Many of the members of both the Tjärnö and Trömso groups met almost a year later in Baltimore, MD to show slides of their trips and the project with Jim and Ted.

One note:  I don’t remember receiving a copy of the final report for the project.  I would welcome more information from anyone who has the report.  And, of course, any pictures or the missing page of the log would also be welcome.  Contact me at webmaster@nclark.net.