Shipworm has spread to the Baltic Sea. If it continues to spread, it threatens to destroy still well-preserved and irreplaceable shipwrecks and other marine archeological remains along the coast of Sweden, according to Carl Olof Cederlund, professor of marine archeology at Södertörn University College in Stockholm and the Swedish representative in the EU project that has now determined the spread of shipworm to the Baltic for the first time.
“Up till now the Baltic has been regarded as a haven against shipworm. This is one of the reasons why it was possible to find the royal warship Wasa and other large wooden vessels in such excellent condition after centuries at the bottom of the sea,” adds Carl Olof Cederlund.
The EU project has been carried out by six countries and is now presenting its results regarding the protection and preservation of underwater cultural environments, primarily well-preserved shipwrecks in northern Europe. One of the wrecks is the Dutch snaubrigg Vrouw Maria, which sank in the Finnish archipelago in 1771. It is still fully preserved, with its rigging intact. It has not been attacked by shipworm, which, on the other hand, is the case with a kogg from the 13th century off the German Baltic coast. German scientists involved in the project have been able to show that the wreck evinces extensive damage from shipworm, Teredo Navalis.
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In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
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