Looking back at the four-day PlaneetZee internship | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Looking back at the four-day PlaneetZee internship

Fourteen enthusiastic students from the fourth year Science of the Barnum secondary school (Roeselare) have won the competition PlaneetZee@Work. As a reward, they could participate in a four-day marine internship across the Côte d’Opale (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France) from April the 27th to the 30th. During this internship they got the chance to discover the marine world under the assistance of VLIZ staff members Nancy Fockedey, Jerry Lust, Rutger van der Meer, Leen Vandepitte and Hans Pirlet: a short report.

Arrived at La Station Marine de Wimereux, the students got ready for an investigation of beach fauna. There, they were introduced with different sampling techniques: hauling a beam trawl net in the surf zone in search for crabs, fishes and shrimps, looking for animals living just above the sediment using a hyperbenthosnet or searching for mollusks and worms living in the beach sands. In the evening, the collected organisms were studied, identified and drawn. Different species were compared and presented to the fellow students using enlarged and detailed sketches.

During a morning walk on the second day in Les dunes de la Slack, the students were introduced to different types of dune and how they are influenced by human activity. Lunch was arranged at the top of Cap Blanc-Nez with a nice view of the chalk cliffs of Dover. Geologist Hans Pirlet (VLIZ) explained the geological history of the Channel and the relationship between the chalk cliffs of Dover and Cap Blanc-Nez. And then it was time for a competition searching fossils! Annelore has won the chocotoff-price for finding the greatest ammonite (±5 kg).

The next day the group went for an excursion to Boulogne-sur-Mer. On a local fish market, the different fish species were explained. In the laboratory of Nausicaa, centre national de la mer, a session was given about eutrophication. Using microscopes, the students discovered that the plankton of the acquired sea samples was dominated by Phaeocystis. During a visit to the exposition of the Nausicaa, the students had to pick their favorite animal. A guided tour behind the scenes followed. The caretakers of sharks and corals showed them around. In the afternoon a ‘spot-the-highest-biodiversity-game’ was organized. In groups of 3-4 students, the goal was to photograph the highest amount of different organisms in 20 minutes, on the rocky habitat of ‘digue de la Crèche’. Each student of the winning group received a beach guide.

And then the latest day arrived! This day started with a guided tour in the explorer centre sea fishing: Maréis in Etaples. A guide gave explanation about the different fishing techniques and the local fishery. During the latest picnic of the PlaneetZee internship some seals were spotted from the beach of Berck. This marine adventure had ended in a beautiful thankyou-poem towards the VLIZ staff members.

All photos: photo gallery