From left to right: Dr. Johanna Mattila, Dr. Ken Heck, (front row, L-R) Dottie Byron, Laura West, Liesl Cole, Courtney Buckley, Emily Suebert, Amanda Jefferson, Kara Gadeken. (back row, R-L) Pearce Cooper, Reid Nelson, Sarah White, Ryan Parker, Floriaan Maarse (Phd student at Abo Akademie), Jacob Blandford

One of the unique opportunities graduate students at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab have is to study the Baltic Sea as part of the Field Marine Science-Finland course taught by Dr. Ken Heck, Senior Marine Scientist.

The course takes place over 2 weeks at the Huso Biological Station located in the Finnish Aland Islands and provides an opportunity for students to refine their field research skills in a very different habitat (and climate) from what they have experienced in coastal Alabama.  

Sarah White samples the reed habitat from a kayak.

Dr. Johanna Mattila, Swedish University of Agriculture Science and former Director of the Huso Lab, joined the course for the first week to lend her expertise of knowledge of the area to the students as they set up their projects. Dr. Mattila has collaborated with Dr. Heck on this course since it's inception in 2001 when Dr. John Valentine also taught the course. 

Eleven students were able to take the course this year which is the seventh, and likely last, time the course will be offered. With the students working togehter in 4 groups, the have to design, set up and carry out research projects. In past years, many projects have resulted in publications for the students. This year's projects range from examining the impacts of aquaculture farms, to predator/prey dynamics in algae, to animal (eg. fish and invertbrate) use of emergent reed habitat, to the impact of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Students will continue their data analysis upon return to DISL and will present their findings at the end of the semester.