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LIAF Field Trip with research vessel Helmer Hanssen

Helmer Hanssen, foto Trine Holm Larsen
Vaaran by Michaela Casková
Balance in Economy and Ecology, by Toril Johannessen

Two LIAF artists, Toril Johannessen and Michaela Casková are taking part in a large scale collaborative research cruise that sets out to investigate something diminutive, but of grandiose importance to the marine ecosystem: the Calanus zooplankton.

The scientific survey vessel Helmer Hanssen is hosting the LIAF artists from April 27 to May 12 during a part of the STRESSOR (Collaborative Studies of Two Resource Ecosystems in Shelf, Slope and Oceanic Regions of the Norwegian and South-China Seas) research cruise, that sets out to take a closer look at these tiny, but essential creatures.

The goal is formulated thus by marine researcher Sünnje Basedow, Dr. scient. UiT:

To determine how basic mesoscale physical, biogeochemical and biological processes are coupled in two contrasting shelf-slope-ocean ecosystems, and how anthropogenic and natural stressors affect marine living resource habitats and ecosystem resilience.

The study taking place in a highly-productive area outside Lofoten-Vesterålen, where the continental slope is close to land, and where species are exchanged between the oceanic habitat and coastal fjords. It is also an area where large-scale surface patches of an important zooplankton species, the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, were located in 2017 and 2018. These little copepods are nicknamed “the lead actors of the Norwegian Sea ecosystem” for their role as a central food source to fish and marine mammals. There is much to be learned and to look forward to in the large study that is now underway.
The scale of this study comes not only from the data collected on Helmer Hanssen, but also from collaboration with other projects and data collection through other platforms. Through the Glider project (led by Akvaplan-niva) up to three other different autonomous platforms will sample the area, and collect very valuable data, that the research team on Helmer Hanssen can fully utilize.

The two artists taking part in the cruise have research interests that allow them to dive into science and ecology from unique angles. Toril’s works often have elements of storytelling in them, with an attention to how science coexists with other systems of knowledge and beliefs. Michaela has a deep interest in weather forecasts, numbers and data, and how these actually feel. Their resulting work is presented in September, during LIAF in Svolvær.

Top: R/V Helmer Hanssen, photo by Trine Holm Larsen/UiT
Middle: Vaaran by Michaela Casková
Bottom: Balance in Economy and Ecology, by Toril Johannessen