There is underwater bladder wrack forest, the project ECOnnect's logo and a santa hat.

ECOnnect wishes Merry Christmas and suitable conditions for all the sea-dwellers!

Christmas is coming, and so are the future models of ECOnnect. Imagine that we can take a peek into the future of the marine nature in the Gulf of Bothnia – or at least we can create predictions on what it will look like 100 years from now. Tytti Turkia from Metsähallitus / Parks and wildlife Finland is producing the future models for ECOnnect.

How can one model the future of the Gulf of Bothnia?

The work starts by investigating what kind of living conditions sea-dwellers like bladder wrack require. A happy underwater home is made of suitable salinity levels, temperature and ice conditions, among other things. Swedish and Finnish inventory data are used to create present day species distribution models.

“By comparing the current conditions with the environmental conditions of the future modelled by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI, we can create justifiable predictions on where marine species might occur in the future” Tytti describes the modelling process.

In practice, the models will be available on website as maps, which show the modelled possible distribution areas of marine species and habitats now and in the future. In 100 years’ time, will for example bladder wrack grow on the areas that are important for decision-makers, planners and inhabitants? Bladder wrack is a key species in the Baltic Sea, as it offers food and living environment for other species.

Icy example of the changing conditions

As winter is approaching, you can hear a lot of talk about ice. It surely gives us opportunities to ice skate and ice fish, but it also creates a sheltering roof and calm waters for the dwellers underneath the surface. On very shallow shores, the ice also scrapes the seabed clean from previous year’s plants for the benefit of annual algae and plants. Surprisingly though, the lack of sea ice could be a benefit for perennials like bladder wrack as they could spread to these shallow areas.

However, Tytti still wishes for a proper, icy winter:

“I hope that there would be enough ice and snow for the species that need it – including us humans with our winter funs. Instead of consuming material things, I encourage people to enjoy the company of their loved ones and nature. Both during Christmas and in life in general!”

With similar thoughts, the whole team ECOnnect wishes you a Merry Christmas and an inspiring New Year!