The Midnight Sun and Fermented Fish

We returned from Abisko on Thursday July 9th around 10 p.m.  The next morning was very busy for the crew as we had to put the science gear back together, prepare the boat, and do local newspaper and radio interviews.

Read the interview: paper

Like the transect north, our southern route is based on collecting samples at sites for which our Swedish collaborators have secured permits. Before turning south towards Stockholm, we had to sail north 40 miles to collect two samples in the northernmost part of the Bothnian Bay. Over the next five days we sailed down the east cost of Sweden, and during that time we collected nine samples from five different HELCOM sites.

The most interesting stop on the sail back to Stockholm was the Island of Ulvön, a tourist destination known as the “Pearl of the Sea of Bothnia.”  We only spent 15 hours on the island, but the experience will be cherished by the entire crew thanks to the Northern Swedish dish called Surströmming, which is fermented herring. A friend of mine with family on the island set up a tour of Erik Den Röde, a high-end brand of Surströmming owned and operated by Ruben Madsen (link 1 and link 2). Ruben is a very interesting person, and with a background in the Russian circus and a love of fermented fish, he put on an impressive show that we will never forget. From my first days in Sweden I was warned of this dish and was informed to never open a can on the boat due to the horrible odor that you will not escape. As Ruben opened the can the crew looked worried, but to our surprise the smell was not overpowering. We all tried a piece in the traditional way (on a piece of flat bread, with chopped red onions and cream). I went first and decided the piece of fish was too small, so Ruben made me taste with a huge chunk of the fermented fish. I required a big sip of Swedish beer to finally swallow this delicacy…

The next morning, with fermented fish still in our stomachs, we departed for our two day sail back into Stockholm.