A major part of the course is devoted to student group projects, which are supervised by researchers from NIOZ. Students sample and collect data in small groups in the western Wadden Sea on the research vessel Navicula and on the tidal flats. This is followed by laboratory work, analysis and interpretation of the collected data and the preparation of a presentation. You can follow their discoveries through this blog.

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Working on deck of RV Navicula.

14th of July 2017 - Dörte Poszig, NIOZ education coordinator

Today was a day of fatigue and at the same time tension. The day of giving the final presentations and with this the end of the course had come. I wondered what the students found out during their practical work on the ships or the tidal flats, and how they would present their results. There was certainly no need to worry - I was impressed by the high quality of the presentations and the ability of the students to make interdisciplinary links between projects and disciplines!

I am looking back at two very intense, but also satisfying course weeks. All coordination worries of coming up with enough topics for interesting and challenging student research projects, of mustering enough rooms and beds for students and nonresident supervisors in the Texel high tourist season and of keeping the machinery of the course running over the past two weeks have evaporated.

I am really looking forward to the 2018 edition of the NIOZ Marine Masters Summer Course. Not to the long, exhausting working days, but to the fact that another group of young people will be offered the chance to get, as one student put it, a 'fantastic, dynamic, interdisciplinary introduction to marine science'.  

10th of July - Bryan Brouwer, Climate Physics master student, Utrecht University

After a weekend full of activities, Monday arrived and for our project that could only mean
one thing: It was finally time to retrieve the mini-landers, which we deployed last Thursday!
But before we would retrieve them, we were all given the opportunity to introduce our project
and present some preliminary results to the other groups. It was very interesting to see what the other groups were up to and it proved to be the perfect opportunity to try to seek a cooperation with other groups. Unfortunately for us, we had to leave a bit earlier, so that we could finally retrieve our mini-landers.

Navigating the mini-landers.

Just like last Thursday we have used the RV Stern, the small sister of the RV Pelagia and Navicula, for the retrieval. Although it was probably a routine job for the crew, I was still quite impressed by the skills of the crew to navigate carefully towards the landers and keep the ship stable without hitting the landers, during the retrieval. So special thanks to the crew.

When we arrived at the locations where the mini-landers were deployed, we found the mini-landers to be still standing in the same way as we had left them. So luckily they were not hit by a ship and we could safely get them aboard. Now it is time for us to process the data which we have collected and hopefully we can get some interesting results from them!

The Stern brought us and the mini-landers safely back to the harbour.

8th of July - Helena Klip, Marine Sciences master student, Utrecht University

On one of the colder days of this week, we walked a trail of 5 km through the dunes of Texel as part of today’s excursion. We started by the Loodsmansduin, which formed the prior coastline around 1700, and where Texelars observed big sea vessels arriving from the North Sea transecting to Amsterdam trough the old South Sea. This sea is known as Lake IJssel nowadays. The Texelars offered their services when needed, because they had knowledge over the area and the local depths.

Group selfie in Loodsmansduin - cc-foto: Helena Klip

After a short stop, we continued to the dunes near the Mokbaai. Almost attacked by seagulls around lunch time, we finally found a good spot to sit down for a moment surrounded by some exquisite orchids. Henko showed us through the different dune stages from the older dunes to the embryonal ones. We stopped some moments to determine some interesting looking plants and flowers, which we even checked in Dörte’s botanical Wadden guide. After an interesting walk, most of the group ended in the Novalishoeve for a well-deserved ice cream. It was a nice way to spend our free time! Big thanks to Henko for the excursion!

We stopped some moments to determine some interesting looking plants and flowers - cc-foto: Helena Klip

7th of July -  Victor Onink, Climate Physics master student, Utrecht University

After a day of lab work, starting with the processing of all the samples that we had taken over the last few days, it was time for the weekend. However, in the evening we first had the opportunity to visit the big sister of the RV Navicula: the RV Pelagia! In general we'd all been quite impressed while working on the RV Navicula in terms of what the ship could do, but it was clear that the Pelagia was in a league of its own.

We were given an extensive tour of the ship by Henko and various members of the crew, seeing all parts of the vessel from the engine rooms to the kitchen to the loading bay where over 5 different container labs can be brought along at once. In the end we all ended up in the ship bar with the crew, enjoying a few drinks with the sound of the best folk music the Netherlands has to offer in the background. We were even able to see the much studied noctiluca plankton in action, for the warm weather with the weak winds resulted in a large number of noctiluca being concentrated in the harbour. It lived up to its common name of sea sparkle (zeevonk in Dutch) with the plankton sparkling with each drop of water that fell in the water.

All in all, a nice conclusion to the first week of the course with the promise of more in the week to come.

Some of us went up to the highest point of the RV Pelagia to ejoy the view - cc-foto: Victor Onink

6th of July - Annelotte van der Linden, Earth, life & climate, master student, Utrecht University & Anne Floor van Dalfsen, Sustainable Development graduate, Utrecht University - Thumbs up for bacteria!

The past two days we've been cruising the Wadden Sea with the Navicula and it's an awesome crew. We've seen seals, porpoises (bruinvissen), heaps of birds and jellyfish - but the bacteria, our task group are looking for, can't be seen with the naked eye - yet. So we're creating nice new petridish-homes for them to see which ones pop up... Stay tuned!

Lastly, big shout-out to program coordinator Dörte, who's been so busy taking care of everyone that she needed a powernap during lunch... Thank you!

Annelotte & Anne Floor working together on RV Navicula taking sterile water samples from the Niskin water sampler. Alan from France doing some prep work in the NIOZ microbiology lab.

5th of July - Nick van der Lee, Earth science & Economics master student VU Amsterdam

Today was at least as hot as yesterday. We started our project, which is about the Schanserwaard near the Prins Hendrik sea dike, with a day in the lab. I never really worked in a lab before and I liked it more than I expected. We needed to calibrate and program our measurement equipment before we mounted everything on two metal frames. These were then named 'minilander A' and 'minilander B'. I always like it when a project requires some physical work next to desk work! You get more feeling for the project that way.

At midday we went out on the RV Stern to drop these mini landers in the water in front of the dyke. When we lowered the first mini lander, it got entangled in some rope from the crane and fell over on the seabed. That was a disappointment and we had to get back to lift it up again. I really hope our sedimentation measurement wasn't messed up by that. Luckily the second one went in more smoothly. The mini landers will be on their spot for the next four days before we collect them again and then we can get to work with the data!

Deploying the minilander. Minilander A standing ready.

5th of July - Jonathan Kranenburg, Geology master student VU Amsterdam - NIOZ rules the waves

Today was a memorable day characterised by sun, life jackets, casino, Niskin bottles, (mis)communication, filtering techniques and even fossils. After an extensive breakfast my group moved to the NIOZ harbour to get picked up by a super cool orange vessel, which safely brought us to the RV Navicula that was stationed for sampling- (phytoplankton, water and sediment) and measurement (CTD) purposes.

On our way to the RV Navicula.

On board of the Navicula we were given the responsibility to work as a professional and unified a team of scientists with different backgrounds (biologists, ecologists, physical oceanographers and geologists). To my surprise, it proved quite difficult to have a proper communication between the deck (the ones who were dealing with the Niskin bottles) and the bridge (the ones who had document stuff in a digital log). After some procedure adjustments, teamwork and communication significantly improved, resulting in flourishing scientists, wonderful results and above all, an excellent atmosphere!

We finally managed to communicate between the deck and the bridge.

Afterwards some laboratory work was performed and Loran the taxonomist exposed us to a nice NIOZ-collection of minerals and fossils, something a person like me can’t resist not to mention.

I’m looking forward to the next days, because adventures are on the rise!

4th of July - Janne Nauta, Biology master student Radboud University Nijmegen

After a whole day of introductions and instructions we were ready for new adventures on the RV Navicula. Once arrived at the NIOZ harbour we saw an enormous ship. Not ours, but the RV Pelagia. Normally this ship is on expedition in the deep seas. Now it was in the harbour for maintenance. Next to it was located her little sister, the RV Navicula, our ship for the day. We used the box corer to sample sediment and benthos at the bottom of the sea. It was massive, but there are even bigger ones up to 800 kg.

Unfortunately, the size of the equipment did not mean big benthos samples. Although they were beautiful, we collected only two different species of catworms (Nephtys hombergii and Nephtys cirrosa). Maybe we’ll find more tomorrow. We have to wake up at 4 a.m. because we want to sample a whole tide (13h), this will be an amazing sunrise.

The RV Pelagia and her little sister RV Navicula.

4th of July - David Amptmeijer, Marine biology master student University of Groningen

Today we sampled benthic invertebrates in the Mokbaai. Despite sporadic loss of footwear in the mud it was a fun and successful field trip. We looked for a variety of animals to help us analyse the food web and recent historic temperatures on the mudflat. All species that we needed and expected to encounter were found, and we managed to take all samples we aimed to take. After the mudflat we got a tour of the NIOZ seaweed farm and microbial lab. 

David Amptmeijer looking for benthic invertebrates in the Mokbaai. A variety of animals were collected to establish a food web with the help of a stable isotope analysis. All hands in the mud!