Test Design Lighthouse

"Man and Sea" - learning as a special experience

The "HoheTied e.V." association ("HighTime") is a regional environmental organisation based in Kiel. It is active in marine protection, particularly the North and Baltic Seas. The association's main focus is environmental education: Information, communicating the interrelationships of and enthusiasm for this unique habitat. The target groups for the sailing ship excursions are families, adults and children.


"Carola" - Expedition under sail

“Poo, that stinks!” The grab brings up black mud smelling of sulphur.

The metal implement, resembling a small dredge, disappears into the water of the Kiel Fjord and is lowered slowly into the depths."Hold tight!" warns Alexander Sporleder the Törn's passengers. The dredge is a bottom grab which automatically sticks to the sea-bed. It's then heaved back onto the deck of the sailing ship "Carola", complete with a piece of the Baltic sea bed. Another piece of equipment is lowered on the port side. It is a probe that registers the oxygen and salt content of the water as well as the sea temperature at different depths. And on the prow a third group pull their plankton net back on board.


20 schoolchildren from the Klaus-Groth school in Neumünster have swapped the four walls of their biology lab for the decks of the "Carola" for a day to take part in an ecological boat trip. The trip is organised by the Hohe Tied e.V. organisation from Kiel. The organisation's members have led trips on traditional sailing ships on a voluntary basis for the past ten years where the participants have the chance to be marine explorers themselves. The main focus is on hands-on experience with scientific equipment. The aim of these events is to convey the complexity of the marine ecosystem and its interdependent relationships. On this occasion, in addition to Alexander, who is doing his voluntary ecological year, a geoscientist and two biologists from the organisation are on board.


The bottom grab brings up a sample of the sea bed. The mud is washed through a sieve to sort out any living animals. And there aren't many here in the mouth of the Schwentine river. And the stagnant mud shows why: There is too little oxygen. The schoolchildren have already discussed this phenomenon in a preparatory lesson with the Hohe Tied organisation.


The “catch” is studied closely.

The Baltic - a small sea with big problems

Compared with the oceans, the Baltic is a very small sea and, moreover, almost completely landlocked. The only connection to the North Sea is via a narrow strait. There is a constant feed of freshwater from the rivers, while the only source of salt water in the Baltic is from the North Sea.


This freshwater influx has a decisive effect on the sea. The less salt that is dissolved in the sea the "lighter" it becomes. In the Baltic this produces a very stable layer of relatively salty water below the surface and less salty water on the surface. This layer is so stable that a mixing of the two bodies of water is scarcely possible. Vital oxygen only reaches the deeper sections through the influx of salty North Sea water. This imported oxygen is, however, quickly used up. Therefore, large parts of the deeper sections of the Baltic are depleted of oxygen. In the summer months the shallows are often susceptible to a lack of oxygen. As here in the mouth of the river, this can be led back primarily to a high nutrient content in the water.


This is illustrated when the sample from the mouth of the Schwentine is compared with the sample from the second site in Kiel´s Outer Fjord. Here, where the wind causes a more thorough mixing of the water and, above all, where less nutrients are measured, the schoolchildren find significantly more animals and plants. Starfish, Baltic isopods and common shore crabs, along with various algae and eel grass, are brought to the surface by the bottom grab and immediately transferred to an aquarium for closer study. The plankton species composition is distinctly different than in the mouth of the river. And the probe measurements confirm there is a significantly greater level of oxygen in the lower depths.


Conveying ecological interrelationships

The overuse of fertilizers and lack of oxygen are just two of many issues that are openly debated. The Baltic is a sea with many countries bordering on it, which exposes it to a potentially high level of exploitation. Bridges, shipping and fishery exert a strong influence on and cause a number of changes in the sea. Understanding the fundamental ecological interrelationships in the Baltic is crucial if you are involved in studying the consequences and problems inherent to these influences. However, as these influences do not exclusively have ecological effects you quickly move onto issues beyond scientific enquiry.


For that reason the current idea of trips as part of the "Man and Sea" project is to be extended to and developed for particular target groups. As well as the scientific aspects primarily the political and social questions are to pursued and current issues such as fishing, shipping or marine pollution taken up. The aim is to point out problems and their cause and effect and discuss possible courses of action.


To make the issue as accessible to as many people as possible the plan will be published at the end of the project and other sources of information made available. A trip box will be equipped by Hohe Tied e.V. to be loaned out for ecological education purposes.


Meanwhile the "Carola" sets course for port, while on deck the results are presented and discussed. After six hours at sea the ship passes under the Hörn bridge and moors up in the dock. The schoolchildren make their way to the railway station, on board the equipment is cleaned and made ready for the next trip; this time with participants on a company training course.



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Life on the coasts



Hohe Tied e.V.

What we have done so far:

At the beginning of the year Anne Wagner and Nicole Langhanki joined Björn Steinborn in working on the “Man and Sea” project on a full time basis. The work in the first six months of the year mainly con-sisted of organising excursions on the one hand, and involving members of Hohe Tied in the planning process on the other.


The summer was marked by sailing excursions which were carried out thanks to the great support vol-unteered by members of the society. A total of eight ‘one day’ and ‘several day’ excursions were organ-ised between June and August. A ninth trip planned for September had to be cancelled due to insuffi-cient bookings.


The work in the last third of the year mainly consisted of the assessment and evaluation of the excur-sions and planning activities. Members of Hohe Tied were included in all areas of work and their volun-tary efforts made a significant contribution to advancing the project.


A year as an ecological volunteer

Agnieszka Stapel from Poland has been with us since 1 August to complete her year as an ecological volunteer (FÖJ). Agnieszka speaks very good German and has already studied in Poland. After she was able to learn about daily life on board ship on one of the “Man and Sea” project’s trips she settled in very well with our group and has made an excellent contribution to the project.


She spends one day a week at the Laboe Marine Biology Research Station where she looks after the aquarium and its visitors. We look forward to being able to work with her for another eight months next year. Anne Wagner took over looking after her and, together with Stefan Hansen, supports Agnieszka in her work.