Published: February 28th 2008February 27th 2008
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Sea life, or death really
So from February 14th-17 I was in West Denmark with my Marine Biology Class.
The first day started bright and early at 7am, I had to meet my class at Frue Plads in the center of Copenhagen to catch our bus. A few of my classmates had baked brownies for valentines day so that was a nice sugar rush in the morning. My Danish friend Kristine also passed around a bottle of Schnapps and we had an early morning toast to celebrate her birthday, and she made us sing the Schnapps song in Danish haha it was pretty funny listening to a bus full of Americans try and sing in Danish. We had about a two hour ride before we made it to our first stop, Rømø, this is a small island in the northern part of the Wadden Sea. This was our first sampling site, the entire area was a huge mud flat and the tide goes out over a half mile. So basically we just picked up every living thing we could find and put it in a jar, and we would have to analyze and identify them later. Since the whole point of our trip was to
learn about different habitats in Denmark Ill teach you a little bit about it! So since the sediments here were mud there is only a very thin oxic layer (the lighter part with oxygen for things to breath), if you dug down only a few inches it gets dark black, this is the anoxic layer where there is no oxygen. So there were mainly bivalves (clams) and polycheate worms because they can poke their heads/syphons out of the top of the sediment to get oxygen. On the top of the sediment you could see little piles that look like coiled poop haha its all the sediment that the worms digested... so its like poop but its just sand.
After about an hour it was back on the bus! Our next stop was Kolding Hus which is Jutlands last royal castle. Jutland is the big island to the west of the central part of Denmark. We were supposed to have a walking tour of the town and the castle but we were late and our bus dinged a car trying to get through the narrow streets so they just let us go off on our own. We were all pretty
tired from being on the bus for so long so we spent more time on top of the tower and outside rather than going into the museum. Then is was back on the bus again!
Now we finally make it to our Hostel in the town of RIbe which is the oldest town in Denmark. The hostel we stayed in was sooo nice! I bunked up with my three favorite girls of the group Kristine, Emily, and Sarah. We were pretty lucky because we got one of these apartment like "rooms" to ourselves while the other 7 girls crammed into another one. Each one had a huge kitchen with a dishwasher, heated floors, table, and balcony, then there was a sitting area with a flatscreen tv, huge bathroom, one room downstairs with two beds, and a loft type room upstairs with three beds. The school covered pretty much everything on the trip so I have no idea how much it cost but it was much much more than we ever expected! So after quick showers we headed to Restaurant Backhaus to meet up with the rest of the class, here they set us up with a huge table and
a family style dinner. Free dinner was good but the worst was we still had to do our analysis from the samples we took, and it was 9 at night! We were all tired and cranky but we did it. It took longer than expected and the restaurant kicked us out at 10 to our benefit. One of the interns for the school suggested a bar to us and a small group of us headed there, it was cozy and full of Jutland locals, so we had a really good time there. The funnies part is that Jutland is kind of like how the south is to New Englanders. My Danish friends were laughing their heads off because the Jutland Danes have a really funny accent, so their Danish is much different than in Copenhagen.
We had to be up bright and early again the next morning which we of course we were thrilled about. The hostel did give us free breakfast, we had to go pick it up at the reception desk, box'o'breakfast as we called it. They gave us a few rolls, some butter, jam, cheese, yoghurt, juice... so we made out pretty good. There was some
type of weird Danish cheese spread too that none of us dared to try haha it was basically shrimp cheese.... sounds appetizing at 7 in the morning huh?
Our next destination was Blåvand huk which is the western most point in Denmark. Here we went up into a really awesome lighthouse to get a good view of the landscape. There were miles and miles of sand dunes. It was interesting because this area was originally thought to be the landing point for the Germans in WWII so they had built dozens of bunkers and there were parts of the dune area you couldnt go on because there were still landmines. Because its the most western point there is a current that whips around the corner and deposits a lot of sediment onto the other side so there are a lot of sand bars. We had to do our second set of sampling here. The eerie thing about this area was the insane amount of razor clams, we have them in America but in Denmark they are invasive so they were introduced here some number of years ago. They were absolutely everything, huge piles of them! The thing about this
area that was different than the first one is that the oxic layer is much much thicker so its the perfect habitat for razor clams to live in. We were lucky is was an absolutely beautiful day, chilly, but clear blue skies all day! We had another toast together as a class before getting on the bus this time we had a Danish liquer called Gammeldanske it means old danish and oh man did it taste like an old danish! It was terrible! haha
Then we went back to Ribe for a tour in the viking museum and a walking tour of the town. The whole area used to be the perfect place for viking merchants because it is so close to the water. So we learned about their ships and how the villages were run and they didnt rape and pillage as much as everyone said they did haha. The walking tour was really neat because the guide pointed out litte details in the houses and little things in the street that you would never notice that actually have a lot of meaning and history. Ill point some things out when I put the pictures up.
night was pretty much the same routine as the night before... dinner at the same place, complain the whole meal about doing analysis, then doing the analysis, then going to the same bar Peppers. It was another really fun night though. We met some crazy Jutland people and got to see a really cheesy cover band haha
It was now our last day in West Denmark. Our first stop on the way home was more sampling... this time at Lillebælt, which means little belt. This site was right underneath a bridge and it is part of the Baltic Sea. The funny thing about the Baltic is that there are no tides! All the algae we found there was mostly wash up from storms. The weather was not as good this day, it was cloudy and definetly the coldest temps I have experienced since being here. Since it was our last day we had to do our analysis while we sampled so we were outside for a while so for once we were happy to get back on the bus! After a few more hours of driving we got to our final stop before Copenhagen, Fyns Hoved which is a
large peninsula. We had a short hike on the sand cliffs and envied the sheep for their warm wool coats. I have a cool picture from here of our whole class together, the biggest group of science nerds in Denmark!
It was really nice to get out of Copenhagen for the weekend, and the Danish countryside is gorgeous!
There are more photos below