Tromsø – Longyearbyen Research Cruise

Fromm Lab member participates on a research cruise to Svalbard

The FF-Helmer Hansen, Tromsø – Longyearbyen research cruise embarked on its journey from Tromsø on the 22nd of August and finished at the port of Longyearbyen after travelling a total distance of 907.06 nautical miles. The research cruise continued for 6 days and 19 hours, with a total sample processing duration amounting to more than 140 hours while the sampling itself summated for a total of around 20 hours.

Fig. FF Helmer Hanssen, the research cruise vessel. Foto: Christel Slettli Hansen

A total of 9 stations were sampled, traversing across the Barents Sea to the East of Bjørnøya and passing through the Hinlopen strait from the south before following the coast of Spitsbergen to the west and south before turning eastwards into Isfjorden.

Fig. Map of Northern Norway and Svalbard, highlighting the representing the sampling stations. Blue dots represent sampling stations. S1- the southernmost dot, S2 – SE of Bjørnøya, S3 – SW of Hopen station, S4 – W of Hopen Station, S5 – S of Nordaustlandet station, S6 – Hinlopen Station, S7 – N of Wijdefjorden station, S8 – W of Magdalenefjorden station, and S9 - Isfjorden station. Illustration: Andreas Alternburger


The research cruise was organized by Dr. Andreas Altenburger, Associate Professor at The Arctic University Museum in collaboration with research teams from University of Vienna, Greifswald University and Swedish Museum of Natural History. Fromm Lab PhD student Anju Hembrom participated in the research cruise.

During the cruise, flora and fauna samples were collected using multi-corer and triangular dredge, epibenthic sledge and plankton nets at a vast range of depths. Despite the unexpected challenges due to harsh weather conditions and cold in the very beginning of the cruise, the cruise was a huge success, as several representatives of key organism groups such as Brachiopods, Bryozoans, Kinorhynchs and Chaetognaths (among others) were collected, and which will be used for genome and microRNA sequencing for the MIRevolution project and represent a valuable foundation for Anju's PhD project.

Fig. The Research cruise members sorting through the excavated core to find samples of interest. Fromm lab member Anju Hembrom at the corner right. Foto: Christel Slettli Hansen



Apart from the exciting marine invertebrate specimens collected (which were the focus of the cruise), the Arctic Sea also offered an amazing wealth of marine biodiversity. A large number of bird and marine mammal species were sighted during the cruise, including puffins, fulmars, great skuas, guillemots, minke and fin whales, striped dolphins, and walruses. The cruise also had an amazing catch of Spotted wolfish, Atlantic Wolfish, Caplin and various flatfish.