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Polar Night exhibition heads East

Polar Night exhibition heads East

Now also in Russian: Polar Night around the globe!

Recently the Polar Night exhibition moved yet again. This time to Moscow, Russia.

Dark times ahead

Dark times ahead

While other escape to the South, we head North - again!

Once again an expedition beyond daylight is in preparation. Meanwhile, new findings from earlier expeditions have seen the light of day.

Congratulations Dr. Hobbs!

Congratulations Dr. Hobbs!

An award winning Dr. of the CircA project in Mare Incognitum

Dr. Laura Hobbs receives award for Postgraduate of the Year 2016 by UHI

New monster from the deep

New monster from the deep

Archeologists fear it, biologists love it

First record of a shipworm in Arctic waters

Werewolves! Here is the published proof!

Werewolves! Here is the published proof!

Beyond any doubt: Werewolves migrate

Finally the proof for werewolf activities has been published in Current Biology!

Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2012 JoomlaWorks Ltd.

Polar Night special issue - first online articles

Upcoming special issue on Polar Night biology to be published in Polar Biology with guest editor Ole Jørgen Lønne. 

Following the last two polar night cruises to Svalbard (January 2012 and 2013) and as part of Marine Night, we are currently working on a special issue to be published in Polar Biology in 2014. Already, there are five papers published online and more are currently under revision. By early next year, we aim at having around ten titles ready for the special issue.
The papers published online so far cover a wide range of topics centred around polar night issues:
Webster et al on moonlit swimming of plankton and nekton (DOI link)
Morata et al on the importance of early food input on benthos (DOI link)
Morata and Søreide on the effect of light and food on the metabolism of Calanus glacialis (DOI link)
Båtnes et al on the light sensitivity of Calanus spp and its ability to detect ambient light from the sun, moon and aurora borealis (DOI link)
Brown et al on the importance of ice algae as food source (DOI link)

Marine Night in Svalbardposten

As part of the Marine Night project, we are preparing for the UiT PhD student that will start working in January 2014 within Unit 3. The main aim of this work will be related to the distribution of blue mussels on Svalbard. The last year we had blue mussels on both the Kongsfjorden and Rijpfjorden moorings - both were successfully recovered and all mussels survived. The fact that they all survived, has two important implications. First of all, we are now able to study growth and development from three independent 'populations': wild natural in Kongsfjorden and two from the moorings in Kongsfjorden and Rijpfjorden. Secondly, and equally important, is the fact that the mussels survived the winter conditions in Rijpfjorden with -1.8C over a period for at least five months. This implies at least that temperature is not the regulating survival, and hence that other factors are limiting their northward distribution.

Read the article in Svalbardposten here (in Norwegian).

Life's little mysteries!


he Atlantic spiny lumpsucker is one of the slowest fishes in the ocean. Yet it's main food is one of the fast swimming marine invertebrates. It is almost as if you were to discover that a turtle was feeding exclusively on leopards. How is this possible? The answer is related to the core objectives of the Circa project - diel vertical migration of zooplankton, which might become hyperbenthic when performing deep diel migrations during daytime. Read the recently published scientific article in full here.
Alantic spiny lumpsucker
Alantic spiny lumpsucker

Little lumpsucker has also found it's way into mainstream media. A recently publishes outreach article in the Norwegian Troms regional newspaper (printed and online) has drawn some attention to the mysterious creature. Download the PDF here or check out the online version here. Picture: J. Kråkenes

January 2014 - When the night will come alive

In January 2014, the Mare Incognitum projects will run a joint field campaign in Kongsfjorden, Ny Ålesund, under the lead of Jørgen Berge. It will be the first of the two large campaigns for Marine Night, but all the other projects are participating in one way or another. In addition a newly established UNIS course (AB-334/834 Underwater robotics in the Arctic Polar Night) will be held in parallel. The Polar Night will for sure become alive when this massive campaign will engage. The early draft of the sampling event was heavily influenced by a distinct fear of the dark of some participants, but this could meanwhile be cured. Thus the second figures shows a more realistic summary. 

Schematic of the scientific equipment and platforms used for the Mare Incognitum field campaign.

Boats from left to right: Ulla Rinmann for medium sized equiment, Helmer Hanssen for all large equiment and Polar cirkel (open boat) to deploy light equipment. Equipment / sensors left to right, MIK (Methot-Isaacs-Kidd net) for large zooplankton; AUV: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle; MPS (Multiple Plankton Sampler) for medium sized zoopkankton; VPR (Video Plankton recorder) for picture identification of migrating zooplankton; U-BAT for in situ measurements of bioluminescence; ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) for characterizing vertical migration patterns; AZFP (Acoustic Zooplankton Fish Profiler) for characterizing vertical migration pattern; LM (Light Meter and photon counter) for characterizing the light climate; CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) sensor with water bottles for eater mass characterization; Sky Camera for taking pictures of the celestial dome; ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) for underwater installations and sampe collections; IR (infra-red) camera for both counting seabirds and safety (detecting polar bears as well as monitoring activities at sea)

Figures by Gerald Darnis

Secrets of the winter hibernation

It appears that copepods do not sleep as deep and long as vi thought. An important part of the reproduction occurs in the middle of the winter,during the Polar Night. This also means that we have to change our understanding of the vulnerability of the ecosystem in wintertime. Read more about the activities of the CLEOPATRA II team here and in a recently published article in KLIMA (PDF) - both in Norwegian.

2013 mooring campaign - success!

Some days ago the last of the 4 Svalbard year-round moorings, deployed in Rijpfjorden, was successfully retrieved during a UNIS cruise. All instruments were happy, and even the blue mussles, deployed in a small cage, were still alive. So, good news for the entire mooring campaign. All moorings are serviced and set out again for another year of data aquisition. You can find a detailed setup under the Mooring setup link.

Read more: 2013 mooring campaign - success!

Gone fishing - The hunt for Leptoclinus maculatus

Leptoclinus maculatus

In a trial sampling for yet another Mare Incognitum project, named "SpitsEco", which soon will be presented on this page, the researchers on R/V Helmer Hanssen were sampling for Leptoclinus maculatus in Isfjorden. Sampling was conducted both by grab and trawl. Main purpose was to test if grab sampling for this species is possible (which it turned out to be), so that it can be sampled during a winter campaign through a whole in the ice, and to collect a larger amount of individuals by trawling for stomach anaylsis. The entire campaign so far yielded it more than 200 individuals which Carl Ballantine dissected and froze for later analysis. 

Out of the dark: 3 all-year observatories recovered during UNIS cruise

During the recent UNIS student cruise of the AB202 course, three Mare Incognitum researchers (Jørgen Berge, Finlo Cottier and technician Daniel Vogedes) used the opportunity to recover the observatories which were set out a year ago in Adventfjorden, Kongsfjorden and Billefjorden (locations see map). This completes another year in a decade-long time series of deployments of these observatories. Data from the instrumentation will be used in all Mare Incognitum projects, partly as background information and partly as main data source together with zooplankton net tows and other in-situ sampling.

A fourth observatory (Rijpfjorden) will be recovered during the forthcoming UNIS AB821 student cruise.

The data is maintained in a database at our partners at the Scottish Association for Marine Science - SAMS. All historical data the observatories is available for download here.

Mare at a glance

Mare Incognitum - mission statement

‘Mare Incognitum’ is the umbrella for several research projects exploring one of the least known marine ecosystems of the planet – the Arctic. We are situated in the Arctic and have the unique opportunity to study this exceptional marine system year round, including the Polar Night.


Mission statements of the Mare Incognitum projects

Cleopatra II logoCleopatra II

We aim to obtain a better knowledge of Arctic zooplankton physiology and life history strategies to predict the degree of match/mismatch of key biological processes at the base of the Arctic marine food web in a changing Arctic.



Diel Vertical Migration of zooplankton is the largest synchronised movement of biomass on the planet, and is a process generally steered by the diel change solar illumination. In the Arctic, with its unique light climate, this process have recently been shown to be ongoing during both the polar day and solar night. In this project we aim at unravelling the controlling factors behind vertical migration of zooplankton as well as its ecological significance.


MicroFun makes use of recent advances in molecular technologies to investigate the diversity and function of Svalbards microbial eurayotic organisms. The project is aimed and UNIS and combines both marine and terrestrial research and researchers.


Marine Night logoMarine Night

One of the most important misconceptions concerning Arctic marine ecosystems is the widely held assumption that the dark polar night is best compared with a biological dessert void of any activity. We aim at exploring the Arctic marine ecosystem beyond the boundaries of darkness, focusing both on pelagic, sympagic and benthic organisms.


Ctenophores are an important component of the pelagic community often neglected in zooplankton research, leading to grossly oversimplified and misunderstood understanding on their diversity and ecological role, as well as biased views of ecosystem functioning. We aim to obtain a better knowledge of the biodiversity of marine ctenophores in Norway, from North Sea to the High Arctic.


GrønBille is dedicated to analyse long-term data on variability, patterns and trends in the physical environment affecting the timing of blooms in Billefjorden and Grønnfjorden

SpitsEco logoSpitsEco

The main objective of this project is to study the timing of life history events of a key fish species Leptoclinus maculatus. During this project, we will aim specifically at a fish known to be of high importance as prey for seabirds and larger fish, while at the same time being a species for which we know surprisingly little regarding its life history. The project will first of all aim at elucidating the seasonal dynamics and timing of reproduction, and we will relate our findings towards the environmental background data obtained from the two ongoing ocean observatories in Kongsfjorden an Rijpfjorden.


Big Black Box

Big Black box has two main aims - to establish a synergetic cooperation between leading Norwegian and American research environments to ensure up to date and innovative science and education of today and tomorrows Arctic scientists and to establish new innovative molecular tools to identify and quantify the diet of arctic zooplankton.











Mare upcoming events

No events found

The Mare Incognitum projects are members of the ARCTOS research network

The Mare Incognitum web pages are maintained by Marine Night technician Daniel Vogedes, UiT.

The content is provided by the projects, for comments please check the project pages and contact the project leader.