Project Baseline documents the change in the underwater world – An initiative has also been set up in Eckernförde.
From: CHRISTOPH ROHDE (published in the “Kieler Nachrichten” on Wednesday, 9 August 2017, translation by Manuel Schertler)
ECKERNFÖRDE. Our environment is changing dramatically. While the melting of the glaciers, the disappearance of the jungle are still evident, the change of the underwater world is beyond the normal human eye. The international diving project Baseline wants to make this development visible. Manuel Schertler (33) and Julian Küpperbusch (31) have launched a local initiative in Eckernförde.
The trigger for getting involved was a fascinating experience for Manuel Schertler. In 2002 he had already explored the underwater world at the Eckernförder mole. When he moved from Kiel to Eckernförde a year and a half ago, he reappeared in the same place. But the difference was crass. “like in between worlds,” says Schertler. At that time, there were much more fish, more cod, more flounder, even some eels. “Now I can be happy when I see a cod at all.”
At a diving course, which he completed at the diving association GUE (Global Underwater Explorers), Schertler came into contact with the Baseline project. At the same time he found a like-minded man in Julian Küpperbusch, also scubadiver from Eckernförde and navy soldier. These two permanent members of the local Baseline Initiative have now joined a handful of other divers who support the project. “Everyone can join, who would like,” says Schertler for the joint project.
The principle of Baseline is as simple as it is effective: divers regularly go to the same underwater spots in the Eckernförder bight and document the current conditions there. These included values such as temperature, depth, time, visibility and weather as well as photos of flora and fauna. In the Baltic Sea off Eckernförde, the divers have now registered four spots at Baseline in the area “Außenmole to Hemmelmark”.
These include an old bicycle that is overgrown like an artificial reef, submerged pipes called “Guerilla Reef” in the local diving jargon, a near Hemmelmark lying jolly wreck, sunk in the sand and a protected sea grass meadow. Since the beginning of the year, the divers have been at least once a month to control these points to document them. “We are there all year, even in winter at three degrees celsius water temperature,” says Küppersbusch. He and Schertler have special drysuits for diving. But also divers, who want to participate only in the summer semester, are welcome. In order to capture the data at the spots as easily as possible, there is now even a self-developed smartphone app (EnCap, available free of charge for iOS). So far, there are 23 measurements and a large number of photographs.
For each dive, the Baseline activists also have to collect rubbish under water. Old nets and fishing lines are found at the bottom, but also plastic, bottles and remains of New Year’s Eve bouncers. “Some see the sea as a dump,” regrets Schertler. The divers, on the other hand, have an interest in an intact underwater world. “We dive to observe the live there,” says Küppersbusch. In the future, the Eckernförder project is also to be extended to water analyzes on the ground, in particular regarding the nutrient content. A cooperation with the Kiel-based research institute Geomar is planned for this purpose.
The Baseline project is an initiative of the internationally active, non-profit diving association GUE (Global Underwater Explorer). In 2009 it was launched to recognize changes in the flora and fauna of the underwater world through long-term documentation. The project works according to the grass roots principle. To date, 176 research areas have been reported with over 770 stations all over the world from Florida to Iceland and Germany to Australia – both in salt water and fresh water. The data gathered by numerous volunteers and are reported to the Baseline headquarters in Florida, where they are processed and published on the Internet. (www.projectbaseline.org)
They form the basis for better protection of maritime ecosystems.