The final semester of my bachelor’s in biology has come to an end, and with that I have also finished my internship at LFI. Do read on as I reflect upon this semester’s experiences and all it has taught me…
As I mentioned in the beginning of this semester, I have a great interest for sub-aquatic life. I moved to Bergen – also known as Norway’s “ocean city” – with the subconscious motivation to eventually specialize in marine biology. This motivation is still very much there, though my time at LFI has made me more aware of just how interdependent freshwater and marine ecosystems can be, especially in a country like Norway. For instance, as more and more Norwegian trout and salmon are exported to global food industries each year, I have learned that human activities occurring as far inland as Norway goes can have just as big an impact as activities occurring along the Norwegian coast, where the fish are both farmed and caught for export.
Air is often sucked into the water tunnels used in hydropower stations situated along rivers and streams all over the country – even more so depending on which turbine type is installed. The water that then runs out into the rivers has become saturated, exposing all the organisms living downstream with increased risk of gas bubble disease and other stressors caused by decompression illness. Repeated measurements have shown that the gas supersaturated water can reach tens of kilometers downstream before the excess air fully escapes. This means that Norwegian trout and salmon, which spend the majority of their lives in marine environments but migrate to freshwater systems to spawn, can be very negatively impacted by the anthropogenic effects of a hydropower station situated much further inland. Last month, Sebastian from LFI measured gas supersaturation levels of 200% in the Otra river which was a new record, keeping in mind that 109% is enough to lead to lethal consequences for exposed organisms!
To sum up, my internship this semester has been a fun and educational experience. Although I would have loved to be able to participate in even more field and lab work, I of course understand that that cannot be a first priority when faced with a global pandemic. I am grateful to have been introduced to so many people working in the field of biology during this internship – something I may otherwise not have gotten to do in my other theoretical courses at UiB. I feel that I am left with many new opportunities moving forward, both in terms of finding more work and internship possibilities, and also of exploring topics I could research for my master’s degree. This internship has met all my expectations and more (like being given the opportunity to help write a research paper!), assuring me that biology is the right field for me. Knowing now that there are so many different fields one can work in as a biologist – and how often they closely coincide with one another too! – I am excited to learn more, and to see where I eventually end up.
Have a great summer!