Sustainable Fish Week in the media

The third edition of the Sustainable Fish Week took place at Ghent University between 3 and 7 November 2014. The overall aim was to encourage students to think about what they eat. Focus  this year was on aquaculture. You can watch a fragment on AVS by clicking on the picture and read the news item on the website of Ghent University (in Dutch). 

Ship wrecks and prehistoric animals reveal a tip of the North Sea history


On Monday 24 November, an international conference on marine archeology took place in Bruges. This is part of the research project SeArch which aims a sustainable management and policy on underwater heritage in the Belgian part of the North Sea. You can read the press release and articles in het Nieuwsbladde Standaard(1)de standaard(2)Het Laatste NieuwsDe Redactie, and Metro. You can also watch a fragment on Focus-wtv (all in Dutch). 



Arctic charr - ever heard of it?


'The inspector' (De inspecteur), Sven Pichal, Radio 2, noticed the Arctic charr in a brochure of a supermarket. Because he had never heard of this particular fish, he contacted professor Patrick Sorgeloos from the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center to learn more about it. You can read more about it here (in Dutch).

The sound of building wind farms does not kill fish

Unique experimental field research in marine Belgian wind farm shows: strong underwater sound waves not lethal for noise-sensitive species. You can read more (in Dutch) in De Morgen, or watch a fragment on Focus TV by clicking on the picture on the left. For more detailed results, we refer to our News section.

"Week van de Smaak" (week of taste) 


The Week of Taste (13 - 23 November) is a public event which takes place across Flanders and Brussels. Hundreds of activities around the theme "sustainable imagination" are organized. Also Marine@UGent is involved! Read more in our News section. 

The "Fish tour" has been presented in Zeebruges. Watch the VTM news fragment, read the article (het Nieuwsblad) or watch the promotional movie by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Information for the press is available (in Dutch).

"Piege de plastique" (plastic trap)


A French documentary (October 7, 22h55, France 2) investigates our plastic consumption and it's consequences. Our seas and oceans are littered with tonnes of plastic, some of it so small it is invisible to the naked eye. These microplastics can be so small they are readily ingested by organisms at the base of the food chain. But, with this fact, new questions arise. Did plastics enter our food chain? Do we ingest them as well? Are we contaminated by the plastics that are so ubiquitously present in our daily life? This documentary answers these questions and more, based on the research performed at GhEnToxLab (PhD-student Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe). For more information click here.

An unusual catch 


Fisherman Frank caught something unusual in his nets. Marine biologist Ines Tavernier consulted Marjan Doom and professor Pieter Cornillie from the Department of Morphology. Unfortunately, what looked like a 34 cm long shark tooth (perhaps from a megalodon, an extinct shark species?) appeared to be a whale bone. Watch the fragment in Dutch by clicking on the picture and find out more. 

Walruses are climate refugees


An estimated 35000 walruses crowded onto a beach. This is what happens when sea ice on which they normally rest, has disappeared. It looks like these walruses are climate refugees, says professor Ann Vanreusel (Marine Biology). Read the article in Dutch on De Redactie. Photo credit: NOAA. 

PCBs in the marine environment


17 September 2014. Knack published an article about PCB concentrations in the marine environment. Over the past 20 years, PCB concentrations decreased two to threefold in the Belgian Coastal Zone, however in the Scheldt Estuary, concentrations remained stable since 1991. This might be explained by dredging activities where contaminated sediment is dredged and relocated. Read the scientific paper or the Dutch press release.


Looms bands: potential impact on the marine environment


WWF warns about the potential environmental impact of loom bands. PhD student Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe (Environmental Toxicology Unit) explains that 10% of the plastic production ends up in the ocean, threatening marine life. Wacht the framgent (in Dutch) on VTM news.

What is 'the perfect beach'?


What is 'the perfect beach', you may wonder. Well, that depends on whether you are a geologist, biologist, engineer, tourist or lawyer. Read all about it in this Dutch article in De Grote Rede.

Author: marine biologist Dr. Sarah Vanden Eede.

Windmills rather good for fish

Down to Earth magazine published an article (5 August 2014) on the effects of windmills on fish in the North Sea. Dr. Jan Reubens from the Marine Biology Research Group elaborates on the advantages of windmills for fish. Fish can find food there and shadow from the windmills is used as shelter. Higher densities of cod are likely related to the absence of fisheries. 


You can read the article in Dutch here.

Plastic soup in Humo

Tuesday 1 July 2014: Interview in Humo with professor Colin Janssen and Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe (Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology) about their research on plastic. They study the presence of plastic in the oceans and the impact on the environment. Read more online.

Ocean Sampling Day


Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) is an initiative of the Micro-B3 project with the overall aim to unravel the genetics of marine microbes. On the same day worldwide, 21 June, scientists and citizens sampled the oceans on 185 sites. The Flanders Marine Institute participated with the research vessel Simon Stevin in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Watch the news fragment on VTM.


Picture: Composite image illustrating the power of bioinformatics for marine research. Credits: Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner.



Microplastics: hot topic. Professor C. Janssen gave two interviews on Radio 1. 

Interview 1 (24 June 2014):

Professor Janssen comments on the ban on  the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products containing plastic microbeads in Illinois. One bottle of scrub contains up to 300,000 microbeads, washing your hands releases 2000 microbeads in the environment. These small plastic particles don't degrade, they accumulate in marine and freshwater environments and are eaten by for instance mussels. A change in our bying behaviour is required; cosmetics containing natural scrub material, such as sand, are available. Listen to the interview (in Dutch) here.


Interview 2 (30 May 2014):

A recent study shows that the melting of ice at the North Pole releases microplastics in the oceans. Professor Janssen explains how these small plastic particles were initially caught in the ice. In Europe 25 million ton of plastic garbage per year is produced, an enormous amount, threatening our oceans. Professor Janssen encourages us to use less plastic. Listen to the interview (in Dutch) here.


Opinion piece by professor Georges Allaert - De Tijd


Professor Georges Allaert (Center for Mobility and Spatial Planning) wonders when we will recognize that urban spatial planning is the lubricant for an economically and socially sustainable society. He is in favor of the development of a sustainable coastal region. Read more in the online article (in Dutch). 





Obama creates nature preserve in the Pacific Ocean - further explanation by prof Vanreusel

Obama extends a nature preserve in the Pacific Ocean that will simultaneously double the area of ocean that is protected by law and create the largest marine sanctuary on Earth. 


In the radio programme 'De Ochtend', professor Ann Vanreusel (Marine Biology) comments on this item. The remote Pacific Islands and a vast area around it, are now fully protected. This is good news for marine biodiversity as fisheries are now also prohibited. Until now, 3% of tuna caught by American fisheries came from this pristine region, which has a high biodiversity. 


Listen to the fragment (in Dutch) here.

World Oceans Day

8 June is World Oceans Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to call attention to the coasts, seas and ocean. 


The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) organized a Science happening on Friday evening, 6 June, with lectures about the weather at the coast, seafood and seabird migration. 300 people attended this event! Read more about the programme here or an article from 'De Redactie' (in Dutch). 

Microplastics on our plate in exchange for a smooth skin?

Many cosmetic products, such as facial scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, contain many thousands of microplastic beads. These microbeads, which are typically less than a millimeter wide and are too small to be filtered by sewage-treatment plants and end up in rivers and the ocean. Once introduced into the aquatic environment, they are ingested by animals including those in the human food chain such as fish, mussels and crabs. New York became the first place in the world to prohibit the use of plastic micropellets in cosmetic products.
A reaction from researcher Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe (GhenToxLab), read more (in Dutch):

Ghent ROV looks for trash on the ocean floor

A team from the University of Ghent participated in a large-scale study regarding waste on the ocean floor. The study shows that the deepest parts of the ocean are filled with plastic trash. Read more:

Ugent persberichten



Watch the video on VTM Nieuws or read more about this in the media (in Dutch): EOS Wetenschap, Het Laatste Nieuws, Nieuwsblad, De Redactie, Vandaag

Poison gas grenades in the North Sea

Research from Dr. Tine Missiaen (Renard Centre of Marine geology) was covered on national TV, in 'Panorama' (6 March 2014). The ammunition dumping site 'Paardenmarkt', in front of Knokke-Heist, contains poison gas grenades from World War I. You can watch this programme by clicking on this link and learn more about this worldwide issue. 

Washed up 'sea monster'

A mysterious five-metre long 'sea monster' washed ashore on the beach of Ostend in the night of 15 January 2014, and appeared to be an action from the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). This deep sea monster, called 'Plastic Mer-trans' is composed of 100 kg marine debris, which represents only 1/200,000 of the amount of litter ending up in the North Sea every year. With this action, VLIZ wants to get attention for plastic pollution and challenge young people to find inspiring solutions for this problem. 


This action got media attention: in newspapers (Focus WTV/KnackDe StandaardDe Tijd) and on national TV (VTM news).

Knack column on ocean news

In the december issue of Knack, Dirk Draulans gives an overview of ocean-related news in his science column, all from Marine@UGent members. A study on the effects of greenhouse gases on the oceans (Dr. Jeroen Ingels, Marine Biology) is discussed, as well as the retrieval of microplastics in the deep sea (Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe, Environmental Toxicology) and the effects of offshore wind farms on fish (Dr. Jan Reubens, Marine Biology). 


You can read the article (in Dutch) here.

Microplastics on national TV

During the Christmas holidays, the TV programme 'Koppen' did a follow-up story on their previous coverage of research from the Environmental Toxicology group concerning the occurrence and effects of (micro-)plastics in the North Sea. This time round, findings on the occurence of micro-plastics in commercially available shellfish are presented. You can watch the video (in Dutch) by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Study on 'windmill artificial reef effects on cod' published in EOS

In the December issue of the popular scientific magazine EOS, a study on 'windmill artificial reef effects on cod' has been published. Jan Reubens from the Marine Biology Research Group explains the advantages of wind farms for benthopelagic fish, such as cod. Cod, and especially the younger age groups, are attracted towards these reefs and benefit from the artificial hard substrates. They thrive well in this environment closed to fisheries. 


Read more about this research here or read the article in EOS (in Dutch) by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Microplastics once more in the media

Recently, microplastics appeared once more in the media. 

Research from professor Colin Janssen and Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe made it to 'Le 12 minutes' on the national TV-channel RTBF. 


For previous articles and video fragments on (micro)plastics: have a look here.

Undersea freshwater reserves found - more explanation

A recent study in Nature states that an estimated 500,000 cubic km of low-salinity water has been found buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America, and South Africa.


Professor David Van Rooij (Renard Centre of Marine Geology) explains in a  radio interview (in Dutch) where this water comes from and if it is or will be feasible to drill for it. 

Day of Sciences - 24 November 2013

On Sunday 24 November 2013, on the Day of Sciences, 430 interested people visited the Simon Stevin. They were introduced to science, technology and innovation. Scientists from Flanders Marine Institute and the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology performed experiments and a demo of the sampling material. 


You can read more on the website of VLOOT, and have a look at some pictures.


Pictures from activities in Ghent can be found here. The Nematology lab was present in the Ledeganck. 

BOOK: Marine Art - marine science sets sail to the art world

Marine Art - bridging the gap between scientists and artists. The fancy illustrated publication 'Marine Art - marine science sets sail to the art world' shows the process of this project, the work-in-progress and the resulting art work, complemented with quotes and pictures of participating art students, teachers and scientists. 


Download this publication by clicking on the picture on the left or browse through it online.


Sustainable fish week 

You can read more about this recent Marine @UGent action on the website of Ghent University or (2), on the website of Flanders Marine Institute or in the VLIZine (all in Dutch). 


The student magazine Schamper devoted an article to it: page 13. This action also got media attention: in het Nieuwsblad. You can watch a news fragment from AVS as well (all in Dutch). 

Pangasius from aquaculture is safe 

After recent criticism from restaurant chefs (read more here; in Dutch), professor Sorgeloos (Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center) replies in 'Terzake' that pangasius from aquaculture in Vietnam is perfectly safe for consumption. 


Pangasius is both cheap and has little flavour, 2 factors which will be beneficial for North Sea fisheries, says professor Sorgeloos. A fish with little flavour will learn more children to eat fish, whereas cheap fish will encourage people  to consume a bigger diversity of fish. Moreover, aquaculture in general will reduce overfishing. 


You can watch the fragment of 'Terzake' (in Dutch) by clicking on the image below.

More poison gas grenades in North Sea than expected

The ammunition dumping site 'Paardenmarkt' (near Heist) contains a lot more poison gas grenades from World War I than expected. This has been shown by research from Tine Missiaen (Renard Centre of Marine Geology) and colleagues from the State Archives. Not one third but the entire site contains these grenades. Because of the possibility that the wind would blow away the fumes, these grenades could not be detonated and were all dumped. There is however no immediate danger as the ammunition is covered by 2-4 metres of sediment. 


You can read more about this (in Dutch) in several Belgian newspapers (Het Laatste Nieuws, De Morgen, De Standaard, and Nieuwsblad(1) and (2)) and Dutch media (VARA, De Telegraaf, Volkskrant). Also the popular science magazine Eos wetenschap devoted an article to this topic, as well as the magazine De Grote Rede from the Flanders Marine Institute.


Listen to a radio fragment from Radio 1 or watch a fragment from Focus TV (all in Dutch) by clicking on the image below. 

Scientists warn against the high risk of degradation of marine ecosystems and human hardships

A recent study, led by the University of Hawaii and involving biologist Jeroen Ingels (Marine Biology - Plymouth Marine Laboratory), has been published in PLOS Biology. This research describes the full chain of events by which ocean biogeochemical changes, triggered by manmade greenhouse gas emissions, may cascade through marine habitats and organisms, penetrating to the deep ocean and eventually influencing humans. 


This study has been picked up by the Los Angeles Times, you can read the article here


Press releases can be found here: from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the University of HawaiiPLoS Biology, and from Ghent University (in Dutch). 


Picture: Corals in the Whittard Canyon, North-Atlantic Ocean, taken by the ROV Genesis. © UGent, ROV Genesis. 

Video fragment: effects of global warming disastrous for the oceans

Watch a video fragment (by clicking on the picture on the left - De Redactie; in Dutch) in which experts warn about the disastrous effects of global warming on the oceans. Professor Ann Vanreusel (Marine Biology research group) explains that the oceans have been neglected for too long. There is an urgent need for attention for the oceans because the pressures on it become too big.  

Prof Janssen interviewed by Expédition MED

Professor Janssen has been interviewed by Expédition MED, a scientific and environmental campaign on plastic pollution in the Mediterranean. 


Plastic microparticles are filtered and ingested by mussels. The team of professor Janssen discovered that the microplastics are not only found inside the shells, but also in the tissue of the mussels. You can watch the interview (in French-English) by clicking on the image on the left. 


Invasive species in the media 

In the September issue of EOS, a popular scientific magazine in Belgium, an article has been published about the research of Dr. Pieter Boets on invasive species. 


65 different invasive invertebrate species have been found in Flanders and most of them arrived in our canals and harbours through ballast water or on the hull of ships. You can read more about this research here.


Paper on microplastics in deep-sea sediments picked up in the media 

A recently published paper on microplastics in deep-sea sediments has been picked up by the marine litter blog. You can read more about it here.


In this paper, it is shown for the first time ever that microplastics have reached the most remote of marine environments: the deep-sea. Plastic particles sized in the micrometre range were collected at 4 locations representing different deep-sea habitats ranging in depth from 1100 to 5000 m. This demonstrates that microplastic pollution has spread throughout the world’s seas and oceans, into the remote and largely unknown deep-sea.


You can read the paper from Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe, Ann Vanreusel, Jan Mees, and Colin Janssen here.

Unearthed skeleton of a sperm whale 

Researchers from the Department of Morphology have been asked to unearth the skeleton of a buried sperm whale that stranded 25 years ago in Koksijde. 

The question is whether the skeleton is well enough preserved for conservation. 

Because of the clay, most of the tissue (muscles, fat) is preserved and the bones are brittle so conservation of the skeleton will be extremely difficult.


Read more about it in this Dutch article from Focus or watch the videos (Focus and VTM) by clicking on the images below (all in Dutch). 


Too many drugs in the Maas

Research performed by ecotoxicologist professor Colin Janssen is discussed in an article in de Standaard. 

There are too many traces of drugs found in the water of the river the Maas. Water companies say this is disturbing as we get a lot of tap water from it. Tap water is safe for us to drink, because it is filtered, but there might be threats for the environment. 


Professor Colin Janssen found traces of 7 pharmaceuticals in our harbours. Concentrations were sufficiently low so that there is no threat for plants or animals. 

Read more about it by clicking on this link: Article in de Standaard (Dutch).

From seahorse tail to flexible armour

The recent issue of 'Knack' enumerates several examples where scientists find inspiration in nature to improve our own lives. One of these examples is the seahorse tail which has a compressive stiffness but is still very flexible. A very interesting characteristic from an engineering perspective. You can read more about this research performed by professor Adriaens and his team in our News section by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Summer academy: are natural energy resources getting depleted?

The summer academy series in the Dutch newspaper 'De Gentenaar' focussed on August 14 on depleting energy resources. Professor David Van Rooij (Renard Centre of Marine Geology) elaborates on this topic and explains why the deep ocean is interesting but challenging to retrieve natural resources. Read more about it (in Dutch) by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Skeleton of stranded minke whale at Museum of Morphology

Earlier this year, a minke whale stranded on the beach of Nieuwpoort. ‘Eugene’ was transported to the Museum of Morphology in Ghent for anatomical investigation and skeleton preservation. Only a couple of months later, the skeleton can be admired at the Museum of Morphology. You can visit the Museum of Morphology (free entrance) and admire ‘Eugene’ on weekdays, between 8h30 and 17h. Tours are available on request. 


You can read more about this challenging process of anatomical investigation and skeleton preservation here. By clicking on the image on the left, you can read the Dutch press release. You can also see more pictures in the Dutch newspaper het Nieuwsblad.

Phytoplankton controls the world

'De Grote Rede' is an information magazine on the coast and adjacent sea of Flanders and issued by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).


The current issue reports on how phytoplankton controls the world, an article written by professors Koen Sabbe and Wim Vyverman from the Protistology and Aquatic Ecology lab. 


Read the article in Dutch by clicking on the picture on the left. 

Marine Art II

Marine Art was an outreach activity and a cooperation between Flanders Marine Institute, the Academy of Fine Arts Ghent and researchers from the Marine@UGent consortium. 23 marine topics served as inspiration for more than 1200 artists (age 6 - 85) from the Academy wich resulted in a 5-day exhibition in Ghent in February. Part of this exhibition was presented at Fort Napoleon (Ostend) between 18 May and 9 June ('Marine Art II') on the occassion of World Oceans Day, an initiative of the United Nations to protect the oceans. 


You can read more about it (in Dutch) on the website or watch a news fragment from Focus WTV (in Dutch) by clicking on the picture below.



Antarctic research campaign

Marine biologist Freija Hauquier participated in a research campaign in the Southern Ocean, and more specifically near the Antarctic Peninsula. Together with 50 scientists and the captain and crew of Polarstern, they sailed from Punta Arenas in Chile to the Peninsula. 


You can read more about her research in the News section or watch a documentary on German television (ZDF - in German: Vom leben unter dem eis) by clicking on the picture below. 


Study of a beach ecosystem

An article has been published in Eos, a magazine on science and technology, accessible for a wide audience, on the PhD research of Joke Van Tomme. She investigates sandy beach ecosytems. You can read more about her work here from the News section. 

Stranding of a minke whale

Eos, a magazine on science and technology, accessible for a wide audience, published an article on the preservation of the skeleton of a stranded minke whale by the conservator of the Museum of Morphology, veterinarian Marjan Doom. The specimen was named Eugene. Because of the young age of the animal (1 year), the skeleton contains a lot of cartilage, challenging the conservation. More can be read here from the News section.

Marine Art exhibition

Marine Art was a unique outreach event and collaboration between Flanders Marine Institute, the Academy of Fine Arts Ghent and researchers from the Marine@UGent consortium. Marine research topics served as inspiration for artists from the Academy. 


In a nutshell: 23 research topics presented by 40 scientists inspired more than 1200 artists between the age of 6 and 85, and resulted in more than 1250 pieces of art, displayed in a 5-day exhibition, visited by 8400 people. 


This outreach project, unique worldwide because of its dimensions, got attention from the media. You can read Dutch articles (Nieuwsblad and Wablieft).


You can have a look at pictures (Nieuwsblad, Ghent University) by clicking on the images below. 





The exhibition and the Marine@UGent consortium have also been presented in the magazine of Ghent Univeristy. You can read the article (in Dutch) by cliking on the picture below. you can read more about it on the website of Flanders Marine Institute (in Dutch or in English) or in the VLIZine (in Dutch). 




(Micro)plastics in the North Sea

The Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology (professor Colin Janssen and PhD student Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe) investigates (micro)plastics, based on a quantitative monitoring study of marine debris on the seabed, sea-surface and the beach along the Belgian shore. You can read a summary of this research from our News section. 


Last summer, the presence of microplastics got a lot of media attention. You can read more about it in several Dutch articles: Het Laatste NieuwsHet Belang Van Limburg, Gazet van AntwerpenGhent


Also recently, plastic pollution was a hot topic after 400g of plastic was found in the stomach of the stranded minke whale (March, beach of Nieuwpoort, Belgium). You can read more about it (in Dutch) in this newspaper article (De Redactie) or read this Parliamentary question of Kathleen Van Brempt


Watch the video fragment from Koppen (in Dutch) or from the RTBF (in French) by clicking on the pictures below. 




On the occassion of a newly published paper Assessment of marine debris on the Belgian Continental Shelf, a Dutch article has been published on plastics in the ocean on the  Eos website, a magazine on science and technology, accessible for a wide audience. 


Also more recently, in November 2013, the documentary from RTBF has been shown on tv, in 'Le 12 minutes'

Published book: 'De miskende haven'

Marine@UGent member prof. Allaert published a new book 'De miskende haven' about the port of Ostend. 

From an academic perspective, he discusses the social, spatial and economic dynamics of the port of Ostend during the recent decades. 

Read more about it (In Dutch). 


You can watch the book presentation by clicking on the image below. 


Polar outreach event

In May, Belgium was hosting the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), and on this occassion, young scientists from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) Belgium organized an outreach event for a wide audience to get attention for the poles. This was an opportunity for families, kids, students and teachers to learn more about the polar regions. 


'Bringing the poles to Brussels' was composed of a photo exhibition, games for kids, 'cool' experiments, a live connection with researchers at the South Pole and lectures by invited scientists in English, Dutch and French. 


Marine@UGent members from the Protistology & Aquatic Ecology and Marine Biology lab were present with experiments and a lecture on the deep sea: the known, unknown and threats for Antarctic deep-sea biology by professor Ann Vanreusel (picture on the left). 

You can read more about this event by clicking on the picture below. 


You can also read more here: on (French) on (English), on the website of Ghent University (Dutch), and on (Dutch). 


A special edition of Science connection has been devoted to Antarctica, including an article ('APECS BeNeLux. United we stand, divided we fall') mentioning this event, and an article from researchers from the Renard Centre of Marine Geology ('Belgian underwater robot explores the Antarctic seabed). You can explore this edition in Dutch, French and English by clicking on the pictures below. 



Deepsea mining - radio interview

Marine@UGent member professor David Van Rooij (Renard Centre of Marine Geology) was interviewed by Radio 1 on deepsea mining in the Pacific Ocean.

What is deepsea mining exactly? What are the threats?


Click on the picture below to listen to the fragment.