Thursday, June 5, 2014

World Oceans Day 2014: Science Happening

June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to call attention to the coasts, seas and ocean. Together we have the power to protect the oceans! 


The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) celebrates World Oceans Day by organizing a Science happening on Friday evening, 6 June. The programme includes talks on weather at sea, seafood and seabird migration. Speakers are: Fritz Buyl, meteorologist Oceanographic Meteorology Station ('Weather at sea'), Eric Stienen, seabird expert Research Institute for Nature and Forest ('Seabirds, heroes of the airspace), and Patrick Sorgeloos, world authority Ghent University ('Seafood from aquaculture: the future?'). 


From 19h30 onwards, at CC De Grote Post in Ostend. In Dutch. 



Do you want to help the ocean? Make a promise to change something in your life. Take a photo of yourself doing something for the ocean, or making a promise. Show the world how you are helping and post your photo on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #WorldOceansDay @MarineAtUGent. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

GhEnToxLab researcher Dr. Dieter De Coninck wins SETAC Europe Best Publication Award

Every year SETAC Europe organises the Best Publication Award in the categories risk assessment, chemical analysis and ecotoxicology. SETAC is the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, a not-for-profit, global professional organization comprised of some 5,500 individual members and institutions from academia, business and government. The SETAC Europe awards are given to a student or early career scientist.

This year the SETAC Europe Best Publication Award for risk assessment went to Dr. Dieter De Coninck, for his paper “An approach to assess the regulatory relevance of microevolutionary effects in ecological risk assessment of chemicals: a case study with cadmium”. The paper deals with the issue of the regulatory relevance of microevolutionary effects, such as development of enhanced tolerance, of chemicals. An approach is suggested based on a comparison of concentrations at which microevolutionary effects have been reported in the literature and conventionally derived ecotoxicological threshold concentrations. At the time of publication of the paper, Dieter was associated with the Environmental Toxicology group  (GhEnToxLab, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering) under guidance of Prof. Karel De Schamphelaere and Prof. Colin Janssen. Currently, he is associated with the Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences).


Read more:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring school of the Master in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation


From 7 to 17 April all first year students are staying at the Sven Lovén centre of marine sciences in Tjärno (Sweden). During these 10 days a range of research topics are developed. Apart from the research students get training in scientific communication, organization skills, …


If you want to follow the experiences of this enthusiastic group of students, check out the blog:


Monday, April 14, 2014

Experimental study and numerical modeling of intra-array interactions and extra-array effects of wave energy converter arrays - PhD defence

Power production of a Wave Energy Converter array (WEC array) depends on the geometric layout of the individual WECs within the array. Within this PhD, experimental and numerical research has been carried out on the intra-array interactions and in the extra-array effects which govern the power production of WEC arrays. Unique tests with arrays composed of up to 25 WECs (point absorbers), the largest arrays ever to be tested, have been performed in a large-scale wave basin of DHI (Denmark) and, combined with numerical results, have led to practical guidelines for design of the geometric layout of WEC arrays.


Practical information about the PhD defence:

PhD-student Vasiliki Stratigaki, May 12, 17h, J. Plateaustraat 22, Ghent.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Conference on the environmental impact of offshore wind farms

An international scientific symposium on the environmental impact of offshore wind farms took place in Brussels, from 26 until 28 November 2013.


During this conference, anticipated positive and negative impact of offshore wind farms on the marine environment were discussed. The general aim of the symposium was to optimize future monitoring programmes based on information obtained in the past. During the first day of the symposium, scientists presented the conclusions from six years of research performed at the wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea. On the second day, an international panel of experts presented state of the art knowledge on environmental impacts of offshore wind farms worldwide. The third day there was an networking excursion to a Belgian offshore wind farm on the research vessel ‘Belgica’.


It was a very successful event with constructive networking and promising proposals for collaborative monitoring in the future. The report, presenting an integrated overview of all scientific findings of the Belgian offshore wind farm monitoring programme can be downloaded here. All work presented during the conference can be downloaded here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

More news on the MARES conference

The First Mares Conference on Marine Ecosystems Health and Conservation, the place to be in November 2014 !



The First Mares Conference, an initiative from the MARES Joint Doctoral Programme, will be held in Olhão, Portugal, on November 17th-21st, 2014. Ghent University, jointly with the University of Algarve, is responsible for its organization. This international and open conference will bring together scientists from different levels and disciplines to discuss and address main issues about marine ecosystems health and conservation.


Six themes will be developed through the conference, and for each one a keynote speaker will be invited:

 1.  Future Oceans : temperature changes - hypoxia – acidification

2.   Understanding biodiversity effects on the functioning of marine ecosystems

3.   Biological invasions

4.   Natural Resources : overexploitation, fisheries and aquaculture

5.   Ocean noise pollution

6.   Habitat loss, urban development, coastal infrastructures and Marine Spatial Planning


The conference will be dynamic, mixing oral presentations, round table discussions and digital objects/ posters sessions. It will be a good opportunity to build personal relationships and create new collaborations between universities, schools, companies and experts from all around the world.


Call for abstracts and Registration open in early February, so visit and join  this major event!


Willing to advertise the Mares Conference through your Institute or University? Download this advertising poster, print it and display it!  


Contact Details:

MARES Conference Coordination Office

Ghent University, Marine Biology Research Group, Krijgslaan 281/S8

9000 Ghent, Belgium


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Impact of beach nourishment on coastal ecosystems with recommendations for coastal policy in Belgium - PhD thesis

Sandy shores or beaches line 70% of the world’s oceans, including the entire Belgian coastline. They have a multitude of ecosystem functions, constitute an important habitat for a variety of fauna and flora and hold important economic, social and cultural value as prime recreational assets. Predictions on sea-level rise, intensified storms, accelerated erosion and flood risk for the North Sea have led to the drafting of the Belgian Integrated Coastal Safety Plan. In order to protect the Belgian coastline on a short and long term basis (up to 2050), the Belgian sandy beaches face a multitude of beach nourishment activities over the next years. This soft coastal defence measure safeguards the natural dynamics of the coast and has little impact on the beach ecology and tourism compared to other options. However, together with the multitude of human beach functions, beach nourishment potentially threatens the natural balance of the beach and coastal ecosystem.


In this PhD thesis, 16 Belgian beaches, sampled over 14 years, were analysed in order to understand the natural variability of this sandy beach ecosystem. By monitoring the ecological beach nourishment on the Belgian beach of Lombardsijde, possible impact effects were unraveled. The combination of mesocosm experiments and both modeling and biological valuation techniques gave valuable insights into more ecologically adjusted beach nourishments. As management of the coastal zone is clearly a multi-faceted and complex endeavour, where the interests of several stakeholders need to be combined, coastal management desperately needs ecological dimensions. The gathered scientific knowledge from monitoring data, experiments, biological valuation maps and model predictions is used to provide guidelines for ecologically good practice of beach nourishment, monitoring protocols and decision support tools for managing the Belgian beach ecosystem in a sustainable way. 


This PhD research has been performed by marine biologist Sarah Vanden Eede and promoted by prof. Magda Vincx and prof. Steven Degraer. 



Friday, January 31, 2014

Washed up 'sea monster' to challenge young people

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. 200,000 'Plastic Mer-trans' placed one after the other would cover a distance from Ostend to the south of France! You can read more about this action here.


With this action, VLIZ wants to get attention for plastic pollution and challenge young people to find inspiring solutions for this problem. Students (15-18 years old) can participate in the school competition Planet Ocean. The class submitting the most original project wins a scientific expedition on board of the research vessel Simon Stevin. 


Researchers from the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology perform research on (micro)plastics and support this action to get more public awareness for plastic pollution in the oceans. The problem occurs on a global scale. The breakdown time of plastics amounts to tens or hundreds of years: 1 plastic bottle stays in the ocean for 200-500 years. More than 600 species of whales, seals, sea birds, turtles etc. are affected by plastic debris: larger plastic fragments cause entanglement and obstruction, whereas smaller pieces (microplastics) enter the food web via mussels, worms and crustaceans and end up on our plates.  


Be aware that plastic itself is not the problem, the careless dealing with it is. 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Video contest: deadline extended

Marine@UGent launched a video contest for its young marine researchers. The deadline for submission of the video has been extended. New deadline: 21 February 2014.


Do you want to communicate your science to a wide audience? Why not in an original and easy way? Make a short video (maximum 90 seconds). 

Any topic with a marine link is welcomed. A tour in the lab, your vision on why your research is important, a day in the field, some main results. 



- The contest is for Marine@UGent members 

- The video includes the Marine@UGent logo (contact Ines Tavernier to obtain the necessary file)

- Maximum 90 seconds 

- Information needed: first name, last name, research group, (co-authors), title of your movie


Be aware of copyright of music! Contact Sabam if you want to use music that is legally not yours. 


If you have never made a video before, there are some tips here : programmes you can use, how to use photo and audio or just video, what to do with bad sound or how to convert files.


Price: a FNAC voucher! 




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Second Deep-Water Circulation Congress - Ghent - 10-12 September 2014

The second Deep-Water Circulation congress will take place in Ghent, Belgium from 10 to 12 September 1014 (with an optional field trip on Saturday 13 September). Prof. David Van Rooij, prof. Marc De Batist and prof. Jean-Pierre Henriet (Renard Centre of Marine Geology) are part of the organizing committee. 


This congress aims to focus on the 'Contourite Log-book', with the intention to increase the ability to unveil and extract the temporal and lateral variability of palaeoceanographic processes. The following main topics will be discussed:

1. The coupling between (physical) oceanographic processes and contouritic sedimentation

2. The vital role of contouritic processes in the initiation, maintenance and decay of deep-water ecosystems (co-sponsored by COCARDE®)

3. The influence of the lateral and temporal variability of contourite sedimentation on slope (in)stability (co-sponsored by the IGCP-585 E-MARSHAL project)

4. The economic relevance of contourites within hydrocarbon systems, as well as in the formation process of polymetallic nodules


Besides these main topics, contributions focusing on these topics are also welcomed:

1. Technological advances in geophysics and geochemistry such as seismic oceanography and the application of CT scanning

2. Advances and methods in facies characterization and classification

3. Recognition, characterization and importance of ancient contourite outcrops

4. Shallow-water and lake contourites: similarities and differences with the deep-water record

5. 3D seismic geomorphology and contourites


The Conference format will consist of keynote talks, oral presentations, and poster presentations.

Abstract submission: 1 February 2014

More information can be found on the conference website



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winners 'Sustainable Fish Week' contest

After another successful edition of the Sustainable Fish week, the winners of our contest can be announced. Margaux Dekeyser will join marine biologists on the Research Vessel Simon Stevin, on a cruise on the North Sea. Eve Scheppermans, Laura Segers, Anne-Sofie Vandenbroucke, Sue Ellen Taelman and Patricia Senaeve won a copy of the book ‘Garnalen - verhalen en recepten van vroeger en nu’.


They all made a promise to promote sustainable fishing. I promise to…

- ‘go fishing with a spear in the garden of my neighbour’ (Margaux)

- ‘eat sustainable fish maximum once a week and take part in 40 days without fish - as I don’t eat meat’ (Eve)

- ‘try to convince Filip Kowlier to write a song about sustainable fishing’ (Laura)

- ‘indicate which fish should be thrown back, next time I go fishing with my boyfriend’ (Anne-Sofie)

- ‘eat more algae, the primary sustainable source of omega3/6-acids’ (Sue)

- ‘inform kids in a fun way during sessions that I lead as a nature guide; they will pass the message on to their parents’ (Patricia)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Upcoming conferences organized by Marine@UGent members

(1) The first international MARES Conference


The Mares Conference is organized by the MARES Consortium, a network composed of 24 partners from 15 different countries. It consists of 13 full partners and 11 associated partners from both European and non-European countries. Coordinators of the consortium are Dr. Tim Deprez & Prof. Magda Vincx (Marine Biology). The conference will run from the 17th to the 20th of November 2014 and will take place in Olhão, Portugal.


This conference will bring together scientists from different levels and disciplines to discuss and address issues about marine ecosystems health and conservation. The conference will be dynamic, mixing oral presentations, round table discussions and poster and digital objects sessions. It will be an excellent opportunity to build personal relationships and create new collaborations.


The MARES Conference aims to address the main issues of marine ecosystems health and conservation. Six thematic subjects will be developed, these six themes are the ones developed by the MARES doctoral researchers: 1. Future Oceans : temperature changes - hypoxia - acidification; 2. Understanding biodiversity effects on the functioning of marine ecosystems; 3. Biological invasions; 4. Natural Resources : overexploitation, fisheries and aquaculture; 5. Ocean noise pollution; 6. Habitat loss, urban development, coastal infrastructures and Marine Spatial Planning.

 Subscribe here:


(2) BENELUX conference on invasive species


Together with colleagues from INBO, DEMNA, KULeuven, Ulg, and BBP, Prof. Peter Goethals and Dr. Pieter Boets (Aquatic Ecology) are organizing the BeNeLux conference on invasive species on April 2nd 2014 in Ghent, Belgium.


The main sessions include: (1) Pathway analysis and spread of invasive species, (2) Impact and risk assessment of invasive species, and (3) Control, management and mitigation of invasive species.

All presentations are welcome, on marine, brackish and freshwater species, and also about regulations on invasive species in the marine environment (e.g. ballast water control).

More information, online registration and abstract submission:


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Video contest for young marine scientists

Do you not only want to publish in high-ranked, peer-reviewed journals, but also communicate your science to a wide audience? And do you want to do that in an easy and more original way? All young scientists (PhD-students, postdocs etc.) from Marine@UGent are encouraged to take part in our video contest! You can win great prices.



Videos will be uploaded on the Marine@UGent website and displayed on the upcoming event for young marine scientists (more info coming soon).


Practical info:

  • Videos should be maximum 90 seconds long
  • The Marine@UGent logo should be included (contact me for the files)
  • Send your finished video along with the following information to by 31 January 2014: first name, last name, research group, (co-authors), title of your movie


If you have never made a video before, there are some tips here : programmes you can use, how to use photo and audio or just video, what to do with bad sound or how to convert files.



Do you need some inspiration for a topic for your video?

Why not show some interesting results with a broader explanation of why this is relevant for society? Or film a tour in the lab: the daily life of a marine scientist, or a movie about field work. Any topic is fine, as long as there is some marine link. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sustainable Fish Week 18-22 November 2013

The first edition of the Sustainable Fish Week at Ghent University took place in May 2012, with the concern ‘How long can we still eat fish?’. A lot of fish stocks are overfished and jellyfish are taking over the oceans. As an alternative for the disappearing Bluefin tuna, students and staff could taste jellyfish. The UGent Board of Directors signed a charter with the commitment to serve more sustainable fish in their restaurants.


After a fist successful edition, the second Sustainable Fish Week is now organized, from 18 until 22 November 2013, with the central theme of bycatch: this is fish or other animals (starfish, crabs, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks,…) caught unintentionally in a fishery. The bycatch is discarded and most of it does not survive this stressful handling.  


Students and staff will be immersed in the world of bycatch in the student restaurants. Targeted actions will take place in the following restaurants: Astrid, De Brug (19 november), FPPW, Kantienberg (20 November), Diergeneeskunde, and Coupure (21 November).  Campaign elements will be displayed in the other restaurants and cafeterias.


Researchers will present their results and insights in order to help the implementation of a more sustainable fishery. Read more about the lecture evening on Thursday 21 November here.


You can take part in our contest and win a trip on the Research vessel Simon Stevin or a book (‘shrimps’); read more about it here.


Curious to know what the engagement of the UGent restaurants is? Read more about it here.





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sustainable Fish Week: Lecture evening: Research on sustainable fisheries in Belgium

On November 21th, Marine @UGent organizes a lecture evening with scientists from Ghent University and the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO). This is one of the actions during the ‘Sustainable fish week’.


When? 21 November 2013, 20h

Where? Campus Sterre, S8, Valère Billiet


Jan Reubens will focus on the behavioural ecology of Atlantic cod and pouting at offshore wind farms, and he will discuss whether small-scale fisheries should be allowed inside wind farms or not.

Jan is a researcher at the Marine Biology Research Group of Ghent University. For his PhD study he investigated the effect of offshore wind farms on the ecology of fish. He combined scientific diving activities with acoustic telemetry and hand line fisheries.


Bart Verschueren clarifies if technical adaptations can reduce the environmental impact of the beam trawl fishery. Research focusses on the reduction of the seabed contact, the discarding of unwanted organisms and the fuel consumption. The ILVO Fishing Gear Technology research group performs experiments and applies these techniques on board of fishing vessels. As such, they strengthen the cooperation with the fishing industry to make the sector more sustainable. This team is both developing new fishing gear (pulse fishery) and enhances the selectivity of existing techniques through the use of escape and separator panels.


Maarten Soetaert elaborates on pulse trawls, a promising alternative fishing technique, that replaces the traditional mechanical stimulation with tickler chains and bobbin ropes by electrical stimulation with electrodes. The electric field makes the fish or shrimp go into a cramp or jump out of the sediment. Using this technique reduces bottom contact and decreases bycatches. Also the fuel costs can drop up to 50%. But what are the negative effects of marine electrofishing? This research assesses the impact of varying pulse parameters on a broad range of species encountered in trawl catches: cod, sole, shrimp and sandworm.


Emely Hanseeuw informs us about the ‘discard ban’. When the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is issued, a gradual ban on discarding will be implemented. What does this mean and why did policymakers choose this? How will this affect fishermen? The ILVO GeNeSys project is investigating options to valorize unused fish and fish waste. Will this minimize the loss of fish biomass when it is landed?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sustainable Fish Week: Facebook contest

Not all fish is caught in a sustainable way. If you want to know which kind of fish you can eat without having to worry about your conscience, have a look at the ‘VISWIJZER’. Fish are divided into a blue, green, orange and red column. ‘Blue’ indicates that the fish acquired a sustainability label, and ‘green’ means that the fish is carefully cultured or caught with minimal damage to the natural environment and is not overfished. These two categories are preferred!


Download the VISWIJZER or the app for iPhone or Android.


You can also make a promise yourself! Visit our Facebook page and post your promise under the contest picture: ‘To promote sustainable fishing, I promise to…’. By doing so, you can win a trip for 2 people on the Research vessel Simon Stevin or one of the books ‘shrimps’. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sustainable Fish Week 2013 - UGent engagement

Ghent University evaluated in 2012 the sustainability of all fish that is offered in the student restaurants. Before 2013, ‘sustainability’ was not taken into account when purchasing fish. Criteria were solely price, quality and delivery modalities. In 2013, sustainability is taken into account with a weighing factor of 15% and for 2014, this weighing factor has been raised to 25%.


When comparing purchased fish from 2012 and 2013 (figures below), we see that ‘red’ fish (overfished or the fishing/culturing method is too burdensome for nature) decreased from 3.4 to 1.4%. Tropical shrimp is no longer offered.


As a goal for 2014, Ghent University aims to offer sustainable anchovy or no longer offer anchovy in their menu. For 2015, Ghent University aims to offer sustainable tuna and shrimp croquettes or no longer offer that in the menu. 


Green, orange and red according to the VISWIJZER.

Gray: insufficient information to determine the sustainability.

Orange-green shade (2013): GLOBALG.A.P. salmon (certified but labeled orange).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day of Sciences - 24 November 2013

Marine @UGent members will be present at the Day of Sciences on Sunday 24 November 2013, with a varied set of activities.


(1) Nematology Research Group:

The multidisciplinary research will be represented by 12 stands in the peristylium (K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, Ghent) including several experiments. This will be done in cooperation with the marine section, the lab of prof. Gheysen and the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research.


Kid’s activities in the Victoria regia greenhouse (botanical garden, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, Ghent) include:

- A colouring competition: children can colour different drawings with nematodes; the best one will be rewarded with a prize.

- ‘Van Aardappel tot Zee’: a (colour)book including a drawing and short nematode story for each letter of the alphabet.

- Monsters, Uni: via little doors to be opened, you meet different nematodes who can look like monsters.

- Photo-panel: you can put your head through the hole and make a picture.

- Game of worms/Worms and ladders: adapted game of goose for primary school children/secondary school children and older.

- A travel around the world of nematodes: presentation and movie about different nematodes.

There is also a bar and exotic fingerfood.


You can take part in a guided tour in the laboratories for which you have to subscribe:

You can bring along a sample from your garden, a forest, football or golf-field, or your compost heap and discover which nematodes are found in there.  


(2) Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology:

The UGent Lab of Environmental Toxicology will display some of its marine ecotoxicology research with posters aimed at a wide audience. Scientists will demonstrate the isolation of microplastics from sediments and the use of passive samplers for detecting and analysing the toxicity of organic pollutants. 


Visitors will be able to look at microplastics and toxic microalgae under a microscope and see how advanced techniques such as Computer Tomography scanning or X-ray fluorescence analyses are used to analyse the internal distribution of pollutants in marine organisms.


You can also visit the Research Vessel Simon Stevin. Read more here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Outreach activity for nature guides

In September, researchers from the Protistology & Aquatic Ecology lab and the Laboratory for Environmental Toxicology participated in an outreach activity for nature guides, entitled ‘a beach lab for everyone’.  The course consisted of 3 days and elaborated on 5 themes: sand, salt, plankton, microplastics and eutrophication.


On the first day, Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe explained why (micro)plastics are both a local and a worldwide problem. Plastic pollution is a lot more than the famous garbage islands in the middle of the ocean. Plastics and their degradation products, the so-called microplastics, are present throughout the marine environment: from highly populated areas to remote islands, and from coastal zones to the ‘pristine’ deep sea. Not only the organisms inhabiting the world’s ocean suffer from the effects of (micro)plastic pollution, but also humans are under threat from this pervasive emerging pollutant.


On the second day, Lander Blommaert talked more about eutrophication. The oceans are receiving more nutrients, and in particular phosphates and nitrates, which promotes algal growth. A massive growth of algae is called a bloom and can be harmful if the algal biomass starts decaying. During this decay oxygen is consumed and results in a rapid reduction in the water's dissolved oxygen concentration. This can cause shellfish mortality.  An example of these massive blooms is Phaeocystis which causes the foam on the beach. Some algal blooms are also capable of producing toxic substances.


Over these 3 days, colleagues from the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries research, Flanders Marine Institute, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and the Belgian beach workgroup provided interesting sessions for nature guides as well. 


Pictures by Claude Willaert

Friday, October 25, 2013

Website of Flanders Marine Institute revamped

Flanders Marine Institute, partner of Marine@UGent, has a brand new website: Here you can access a wealth of information, imagery, publications and data regarding a wide range of marine topics. You can also follow the activities of the research vessel Simon Stevin.


Browse through the website and discover images, scientific articles, maps, datasets, educational material, or learn more about marine science by topic.