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Marine researchers pull ropes too. Photo: Jens Joachim Hiorth

Boarded by the Institute of Marine Research

6 months ago
Written by Ole-Morten Algerøy, Ronald Toppe
Ocean research > Boarded by the Institute of Marine Research

Boarded by the Institute of Marine Research

6 months agoOcean research
Written by Ole-Morten Algerøy, Ronald Toppe
Marine researchers pull ropes too. Photo: Jens Joachim Hiorth

People looking for an unusual sailing trip, are welcome to join Statsraad Lehmkuhl on some of the One Ocean Expedition stages. But for most of the trip, various institutions man the ship. Between Cuba and the United States, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research is on board.

Finishing carrying their luggage on board, the marine researchers went straight to work. The rest of the day students from high schools in Havana were invited to visit, to learn about sea level rise, and join the researchers taking samples of the seawater.

Field course on board. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy
Field course on board. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy

Hotel Nacional

Cuba has many stately buildings, and Hotel Nacional is one of them. The hotel was built in 1930, when Havana was a popular destination for wealthy Americans. On day two in Havana, the curved entrance was not entered by party-happy tourists, but by scientists.

A really grand hotel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A really grand hotel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Cuban Centro Investigaciones Pesqueras, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, and the Norwegian Embassy organized the seminar «Sustainability, environment and governance for the future of the ocean». The researchers shared knowledge about fish farming and oceanography, and the students who are responsible for the field course for schoolchildren on board the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, told about their experiences.

A question from the audience. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy
A question from the audience. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy

– We got off to a good start on the cruise with the seminar at Hotel Nacional. I was filled with happiness when the seminar started, we have been working towards this for two and a half years, said Geir Lasse Taranger, who is the Institute of Marine Research's cruise leader.

Collaboration on fry production

Norway is a world leader in fish farming, and the Institute of Marine Research has helped Cubans build a facility for the production of fish fry.

– This is an important project because Cuba lacks proteins, and focuses on aquaculture. The Institute of Marine Research has collaborated with Cuban institutions for many years, and has previously had success with breeding the species cobia. We now have a good production facility for fry up and running, ending the circle, says Torstein Harboe, who is leading the project for the Institute of Marine Research.

In the video below, you can come along visiting the production facility.

Moving food production

On November 28, the moorings were lifted, and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl set course for Nassau in the Bahamas. The theme for this stage is how to move more of the world's food production from land to sea in the years to come, in a sustainable way.

The region Statsraad Lehmkuhl sails in has a special focus, so researchers from the Bahamas, Cuba and Colombia are also on board.

– An important fact that was emphasized at the seminar at Hotel Nacional is how interconnected the Caribbean island states are with the ocean currents that connect them. Cooperation across nations is absolutely necessary, says cruise leader Taranger.

Geir Lasse Taranger. Photo: Isak Okkenhaug
Geir Lasse Taranger. Photo: Isak Okkenhaug

Everyone who sails with the Statsraad Lehmkuhl is part of one of three watch teams that go sea watch, four hours at a time. The participants from the Institute of Marine Research as well. But in addition to being sailors, they also have professional tasks. Geir Lasse Taranger explains:

– One team will hold workshops on the integrated ecosystem, i.e. the big picture. The second team will look at the environmental effects of doing seafood production in the region, and the third team will focus mostly on the possibilities: What can we succeed in doing in the short and in the long term.

Researchers and also sailors. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy
Researchers and also sailors. Photo: Ole Morten Algerøy

Better than a conference hotel

Cruise leader Taranger sees Statsraad Lehmkuhl as the perfect venue for the Institute of Marine Research.

– The fact that we are offline, sleeping in hammocks next to each other and have to solve common challenges associated with sailing, he explains. I hope and believe that the cruise will have a lasting effect, both for the relationship between us colleagues and on a personal level.

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