Dutch Vessel Conducts Underwater Microbiology Research in Bulgaria’s Exclusive Economic Zone in Black Sea

The Dutch research vessel the Pelagia is scheduled to spend several days collecting samples in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea. Photo: NESSC Facebook Page

The Dutch research vessel the Pelagia is scheduled to spend several days collecting samples in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea. Photo: NESSC Facebook Page

The Pelagia, the research vessel of the Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NIOZ), has entered the Bulgarian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Black Sea as part of an expedition collecting microbiology samples, in this case from the anaerobic microbes in the Black Sea.

The Dutch research expedition is scheduled to sail in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea from January 28 until February 5, 2016, after completing its exploration in the Mediterranean.

While the Black Sea is often discussed with respect to the possibility for discoveries in the field of underwater archaeology, the research mission of the Netherlands Earth System Science Center underscores its potential with respect to earth sciences, climate change studies, and paleontology.

The expedition is funded by the Netherlands Earth System Science Center and the Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology.

The findings of the Dutch scientists from their Black Sea exploration could help provide a clearer picture as to how Earth’s temperatures evolved in the past, reports the Capital Daily.

“The Black Sea is a very special system because in most of its depths there is no oxygen but there are high amounts of sulfide. These conditions occurred very often on Earth millions of years ago,” Dutch scientists Marcel van der Meer and Laura Villanueva from the expedition are quoted as saying.

The researchers are going to study the fossils of microbes from the bottom of the Black Sea because the changes that they experienced can reveal the temperatures in the Black Sea over the past 20,000 years.

“This is very important because if we could determine the Earth’s temperature in the past we could also find evidence as to how the climate is going to change in the future,” the Dutch scientists are quoted as saying.

The sea expedition of the Netherlands Earth System Science Center can be followed through its blog which is updated daily on the Center’s website and Facebook page.

Dolphins in the Black Sea encountered by the Dutch scientists after crossing the Bosphorus Strait from the Mediterranean. Photo: NESSC Facebook Page

Dolphins in the Black Sea encountered by the Dutch scientists after crossing the Bosphorus Strait from the Mediterranean. Photo: NESSC Facebook Page

This is the second international research expedition in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea, after in the fall of 2015, several underwater archaeology institutions from Bulgaria, the UK, the USA, Sweden, and Greece launched the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea M.A.P.) whose results are expected to reveal intriguing results over the next few years.

The archaeological exploration of the Black Sea could reveal a lot of exciting finds. Some scholars even think that it could provide answers about the story of the Biblical Deluge and Noah’s Arc as the Black Sea is believed to have been a fresh water lake until several thousand years ago.

A major rise in sea levels (some describe it as a one time flooding which led to the Deluge stories not just in the Bible but also in different ancient mythologies) which connected it with the Mediterranean over the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles is believed to have destroyed a high prehistoric civilization living along its west and northwest coast.

What is more, the Black Sea is unique because below 200 meters (60 meters in some parts) it has no oxygen but only hydrogen sulfide, therefore any underwater archaeology sites or sunken ships at greater depths are supposed to have been perfectly preserved.

Check out some of our other stories about underwater archaeology in Bulgaria’s Black Sea section as well as other parts of the Black Sea:

Bulgarian MPs Move to Protect Sunken Black Sea Ships as Underwater Archaeology Sites

Underwater Archaeology Harbors Great Tourism Potential for Bulgaria, Expert Says

Bulgarian, Romanian Archaeologists Find Sunken Wooden Ships, Soviet U-Boats in Underwater Explorations

Large Sunken Byzantine Ship Discovered in Black Sea off the Coast of Sevastopol on Crimean Peninsula