Monicoast tells us more about Finland’s coastal areas

As a child, Johan Borgström used to swim in the clean and clear waters of the Finnish archipelago. But the once pristine waters of his beloved coves are now slimy with algae. To support Baltic Sea research, Borgström organised an anniversary fundraising campaign for the Monicoast project.

“The Finnish archipelago has always been important to me. In my youth, we swam in clean waters outside our summer house and sailed in the archipelago. Now a sailing trip can be ruined by excessive algal blooms,” explains Johan Borgström on why he wanted to support research on coastal waters.

The Monicoast (MONItoring of COASTal habitats) project at the University of Helsinki’s Tvärminne Zoological Station aims to understand and visualise the impact of long-term environmental change on various parts of the Baltic Sea. The Monicoast coastal observatory sends data to an online portal, where you can follow how temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH and turbidity change in the sea outside the Tvärminne Zoological Station on the Hanko peninsula. Automatic data loggers are deployed in coastal habitats, such as mussel beds, bladder wrack belts and seagrass meadows.

“These key habitats are affected by both eutrophication and climate change, but we don’t have long-term data about the changes that have occurred in shallow coastal areas,” says Joanna Norkko, acting director of the Tvärminne Zoological Station.

Donations for Baltic Sea research

Without donations and external funding, the Tvärminne Zoological Station would be unable to conduct Baltic Sea research because the core funding only covers rent and salary costs. That is why the research relies on funding from both scientific foundations and, increasingly, private individuals and companies.

“Each advanced scientific measuring device used in the Monicoast project costs about €20,000, while a surface buoy necessary to send data to the online portal costs roughly €7,000. Donations from companies, private individuals and foundations are all used for the same purpose,” Norkko notes.

Monicoast relies entirely on donations. Dropp, a social enterprise, originally contacted Professor Alf Norkko to discuss how it could contribute to Baltic Sea research. Thus was born the idea of Monicoast. As almost no monitoring data from the shallow coastal areas were available, the purpose was to produce such data, thus closing the knowledge gap.

In addition to the annual support provided by Dropp, Monicoast has received donations from private individuals such as Johan Borgström and Tauno Voipio as well as the Weisell Foundation and the Wheelström company.

“I find basic research in the form of collecting information on water quality, temperature and other relevant factors very important and crucial for making our coastal waters clean again. That’s why it was so great to come across the Monicoast project. I wanted to provide my friends with the opportunity to contribute to the project in conjunction with my 70th birthday. The amount of donations exceeded my expectations,” Borgström states.