Construction of Markermeer research vessel begins
After a successful fundraising campaign among donors to the Amsterdam University Fund last year, construction of a ship for ecological research in the waters of Markermeer began in late March.
Researchers and students at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) will soon have a bona fide research ship. The new vessel will enable them to safely traverse Markermeer in almost all weather conditions in order to conduct ecological research into the lake's condition. Up until now, the researchers had only a dinghy to use for this work.
‘The ecology of Markermeer is under threat and habitat conditions are poor. Birds and fish are fast disappearing’, explains Harm van der Geest, aquatic biologist at the UvA's Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). ‘Numerous initiatives are seeking to improve the water quality and habitat, but because we don't really have a good grasp of how the system works, it's not clear in how far these initiatives will have the desired effects. Fundamental research is needed to gain a thorough understanding of the system.’
Catalyst for new research
The ship is being built by Stormer Marine Workboats in Amsterdam and is expected to be ready for use at the start of this summer. ‘A well-equipped research ship will enable us to take samples and conduct measurements at ecologically relevant locations in Markermeer all year round’ continues Van der Geest. ‘There will be specialised equipment on board, which will provide a stimulus for new research projects and partnerships between biology, hydrology and sedimentology. The ship will be a real catalyst for Markermeer research, and that will bring us closer to understanding the lake's ecology and help us design more effective measures to preserve the habitat.’
At its launch, the boat will be christened the R.V. Dreissena, 'R.V.' being the international abbreviation for 'research vessel', while Dreissena is genus of mussels in the Dreissenidae family. This genus includes the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and the quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), both key protagonists in Markermeer's changing ecology.
Alongside the Amsterdam University Fund, funding partners for the ship are Stichting het Blauwe Hart, Wetenschapsknooppunt, Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier, Waternet, Rijkswaterstaat, Stormer Marine Workboats, Raymarine, Bataviahaven Lelystad and private crowdfunders.