Expedition from the Netherlands on mission to dive, study and clean English waters

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 13 June 2018

Expedition North Sea 2018, led by Dutch, Dive the North Sea Clean Foundation (DtNC), starts a ten day expedition on Thursday dedicated to discovering and cleaning wrecks in England and the Netherlands.

Octopus Dutch North sea expedition
© Doggersbank-Udo-van-Dongen

Working together, we can show the biodiversity and life in these remote places.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt,
MCS, Principle Specialist, Marine Protected Areas

The group of 30 experienced volunteer divers says it will remove waste (in particular ghost nets, lead, fishing hooks and lures) to liberate animals, collect biological and archaeological data and photograph and film habitats and wildlife.

Among the sites the divers will explore in English waters are the Southern North Sea marine protected area, created for its harbour porpoise population, Coquet to St Mary’s and Farnes East which were designated Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in 2016 and Berwickshire and North Northumberland, a designated Special Area of Conservation protected for its areas for reefs and rich muds, which is also a special bird nature area, known for its fish-rich waters with kelp and numerous grey seals.

Dutch Expedition_North Sea Map © Dutch Dive the North Sea Clean Foundation (DtNC)

“Whilst the UK has protected many inshore areas from damaging bottom trawling and dredging, there are no bans on any trawling or netting in the Dogger Bank, Farnes East, Coquet to St Mary’s and Harbour Porpoise MPAs in the North Sea. Working together, we can show the biodiversity and life in these remote places.” Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MPA specialist, at MCS.

Volunteers on board the expedition ship, Commandant Fourcault, will image wrecks in 3D using photogrammetry scanning, sail to biologically interesting Natura2000 protected areas on the border between the Netherlands and England, including the Brown Ridge and the Dogger Bank, where unique species were previously observed and it’s hoped, seen again. Divers will also visit various wrecks including a sunken oil production platform.

“With this expedition we want to bring both the beauty, vulnerability and litter of the North Sea to the attention of the general public,” says Ben Stiefelhagen, Expedition leader and founder DtNC.

CDT Dutch vessel north sea expedition

The expedition is an initiative of the Dive The North Sea Clean Foundation in collaboration with the Dutch North Sea Foundation and MCS. The team consists of marine biologists, amateur archaeologists, ecologists, underwater photographers, film makers and support divers plus crew. Diving at 25 to 45 meters depth in cold, running water with varying visibility (2 to 25 meters), means the divers have to be very experienced. From the 11 previous expeditions that have been carried out so far, the foundation has shown that marine life in the North Sea is surprisingly diverse and colourful, which strengthens the importance of nature conservation.

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