LifeWatch cruises | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

LifeWatch cruises

VLIZ monitors monthly, since 2002, fixed stations at the Belgian part of the North Sea with the RV Simon Stevin. Both biotic and abiotic parameters are sampled.

Slowly changing phenomena – due to natural variation or caused by anthropogenic impact – often only become clear after a longer period of time. Some well-known examples are climate change, ocean acidification, the introduction on non-endemic species and the decline of biodiversity. There is a need for historical data and long term data in order to better understand these phenomena. Therefore, it is utterly important to maintain these monitoring activities, to adapt them to the current needs, to approach them in a multidisciplinary way and to make the data freely available for marine scientists.

A grid of nine stations is orientated along an east-west gradient and covers the coastal zone. These stations are sampled monthly. Seasonally, eight additional stations, located further at sea, are sampled according to an offshore-inshore gradient.
During the monitoring, various seawater and seabed characteristics are measured. The biological samples include zooplankton, macrobenthos and phytoplankton.

This monitoring is framed within the European research infrastructure LifeWatch.

List of measured parameters

  • zooplankton
  • phytoplankton
  • depth profile of the water column: temperature, salinity, turbidity, oxygen concentration, light scatter and acidity
  • water sample: nitrate and phosphate concentration, chlorophyll-a and other pigments and suspended particulate matter
  • Secchi depth
  • macrobenthos
  • bottom sample: grain size

For more information, contact André Cattrijsse.