The Baltic Sea and its Secrets - Kelionės su vaikais
The Baltic Sea and its Secrets
Baltijos jūra ir jos paslaptys

The Baltic Sea and its Secrets

We all came from water, and most of our bodies are made up of liquids. Maybe that’s why the sea is so hypnotizing to us. For a long time, the water around us was perceived as a mysterious abyss, an inexhaustible source of goodness, and we all took handfuls of it.

People believed that everything you throw into the sea disappears into some mysterious abyss. Therefore, we “hid” there what we just came up with. However, the discoveries and researches of the last century have revealed incredible facts. The Baltic Sea and its secrets – what are they?

Even if you don’t like splashing in the water, there are some good reasons why you should love it right away:

  • Over 70 percent of the world’s surface is water, and we’ve explored the moon and Mars more closely than we have explored the underwater world on our own earth.
  • Even 70 percent of the world’s life is hidden in the underwater worlds, and we certainly haven’t gotten to know all of them yet (therefore, it can be said that there is still a small chance that Ariel is not a fairy tale character at all).
  • The oceans emit about 70-80 percent of the world’s oxygen and absorb as much as a third of the world’s CO2. Because, no matter how much we love the forests, the lungs of the world are in the water.
  • Ultimately our climate is nothing but the result of ocean circulation. And the Gulf Stream flowing so far (near America) does not allow us in Europe to freeze, and without it, Europe would look completely different.

Therefore, even if you don’t want to get in the water this summer or you can’t swim, the world’s waters deserve your love and care. And now let’s return to Lithuania and get to know the Baltic Sea and its secrets. I’ll admit that not all secrets and facts are pleasant, but that’s all the more reason to talk about it.

The Baltic Sea has Reefs

Yes, they exist! And they enter the Baltic thalassological reserve. Unlike the Red Sea’s reefs, which are biological in origin and made up of growing corals, ours are geological in origin and made up of boulders, scree and moraine ridges. It is believed that these ridges were formed more than 130,000 years ago. Interestingly, such unique reefs are found only in the Baltic and Scottish seas.

Photo from a book ,, Jūros knyga. Baltijos jūros pasauliai” Ž. Morkvėnas, D. Daunys

Inhabitants of the Baltic Sea

One of the strangest features of the Baltic Sea is that we cannot boast of a great diversity of its inhabitants, but the very fact of why this is so is quite interesting – the Baltic Sea is too “salty” for freshwater inhabitants, but too “fresh” for saltwater inhabitants, so, unfortunately, no one here wants to settle down.

That’s why they don’t want to live with us…

Water level

Another interesting fact is that near our neighbors, the Swedes and Finns (in the Gulf of Bothnia), the water level is decreasing, and the southern part of the Baltic Sea (and Lithuania) is sinking a little deeper into the sea every year. The movement of the earth’s plates is to blame for this – in the Gulf of Bothnia, the Earth’s crust increases by about 10 mm per year, and in the south, about the same amount, it sinks under water.

The Baltic Sea is quite closed, because the strait near Denmark is very small (compared to the entire area of ​​the Baltic Sea) and shallow, and it would take up to 25 years for the water to be fully renewed from the North Sea.

The Baltic Sea and its secrets

Pollution of the Baltic Sea

Moving on to sadder facts, the Baltic Sea is in the top ten (maybe even top five) most polluted seas in the world. It is a sad truth that we are outpacing even the less developed countries, but why? There are a number of reasons, but one of the main ones, scientists name the huge tributaries of European rivers. About 250 rivers bring about 440 km3 of fresh water to the Baltic Sea every year, with which, of course, we get a lot of urban surface water wastewater. However, one of the most serious sources of pollution is the fertilizers used in agriculture, which reach the sea through the same “river” paths and contribute to merciless eutrophication. Of course, it should be mentioned that the previously mentioned fact about the closedness of the sea and the complex mixing of water significantly contributes to the pollution too.

The Bottom of the Baltic Sea is Like a Ticking Bomb

This is one of the illustrations of how people used to believe that everything that fell into the sea disappeared. After the Second World War, after the disarmament of Germany, in order to get rid of ammunition (bombs, mines, shells with phosphorus and nerve gas) as soon as possible, “big and intelligent minds” decided to bury everything in the sea, and as a result, huge amounts of ammunition were drowned in the Baltic Sea. It is not known exactly how many, but it is estimated that around 1.6 million were drowned off the coast of Germany alone. Tons (sources say that the total amount buried may reach tens of millions of tons) of ammunition, which if detonated would cause irreversible damage to the inhabitants of the sea, and if not removed, the dangerous substances, extremely harmful chemical compounds, would slowly poison the inhabitants of the sea and all those who consume them.

Sea Pollution Exceeds Norms

The entire world ocean is “saturated” with microplastics, the inflow of pharmaceutical substances with wastewater is still uncontrolled, and Baltic Sea fish often exceed the limits of heavy metals, especially arsenic (possibly the effect of the aforementioned ammunition), so the belief that one should eat as much fish as possible has been carried over from childhood. Nowadays, you need to choose fish that are safe to eat. For example, in Sweden, it is recommended that pregnant women and children up to 14 years of age eat Baltic herring no more than 2-3 times a year, for others – up to 1 time a week.

Blooming Sea

Not everything that blooms is beautiful. The annual “blooming” of the sea (we mean the eutrophication process) further exacerbated the emergence and expansion of anoxic areas on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. These anoxic areas leave no possibility for animals to breed or live here. Therefore, one of the biggest headaches for scientists today is reducing human-caused eutrophication before we turn our seafloor into a desert or quasi-space.

The Baltic Sea and its secrets

What is Being Done to Protect the Seas?

But in order not to be so sad, it should be mentioned that we understood the mistakes and now we are trying to move in the right direction. On 17 June 2008, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which requires Member States to develop measures to protect, prevent the deterioration of the marine environment and, where possible, restore it through the sustainable use of marine resources, in order to achieve and/or maintain a good the state of the marine environment for future generations. In Lithuania, this Directive is implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is greatly assisted by scientists from the Marine Research Institute of Klaipėda University. Although according to the latest research (2012-2017) the overall state of the marine environment in Lithuania is not good and has not significantly improved (judging from previous years), it is understood that everything will still take some time.

Can We Help the Baltic Sea?

We ask if there is anything we can do? Each of us can contribute, at least in a small way, to a cleaner sea, healthier fish and a more beautiful tomorrow. Let’s start the with easy steps – waste sorting, environmentally friendly packaging, greener detergents, cleaning dishwashing detergents and other common household hygiene products.

I often hear that it’s too hard, inconvenient or that “one person won’t change anything – it’s not worth it”, I always like to answer with an internet joke: “…it’s JUST one little plastic straw” said 7 billion people.”

I always say, everything shouldn’t be done perfectly, but little by little, in small steps, we can improve the situation.

And if this information touched you and you want to contribute more to marine environment research and application of tools, read more, or join the ranks of oceanographic scientists at Klaipėda University’s Marine Research Institute and learn even more brain-blowing facts here and contribute to the creation of a better tomorrow!

“Travelling with Children” thanks Vita for the article: Vita’s website can be found at

This article is author’s work and was prepared by “Travelling with Children ®”. Copying and use without the permission of the author or “Travelling with Children ®” is strictly prohibited.
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