MARCH 2019

Newsletter #5

DAIMON (Jan 2016 - Feb 2019) was an international project dealing with munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea. Scientists from Poland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Lithuania and Russia cooperated with experts worldwide in order to solve this transboundary challenge.
The project was part-financed by the EU INTERREG Baltic Sea Region Programme 2014-2020.

Final Conference & Open Day in Bremerhaven


The final DAIMON meeting was hosted by Thünen Institute (TI-FI) and Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven. Especially the Open Day on 7th February was a great success, arising interest of 60 external participants from the science, policy and business sector.

Most major German paid newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and online services have picked up the story and published different accounts on the DAIMON results. On the conference website you can find all presentations, posters incl. abstracts, and the impressive list of links to the media reports.

Two DAIMON follow-up projects under preparation 


The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN) has applied for two different grants with spin-off ideas from the DAIMON project. 

The first one, DAIMON 2 has been submitted to the Baltic Sea Region INTERREG 2014-2020 programme. It would be two-year project focused on the optimisation and practical application of the Decision Support System and also on the application of the DAIMON Ecotox Toolbox as standard operating procedures for a.o. offshore environmental impact assessments. Partners are IOPAN, PNA, TU Clausthal, EGEOS GmbH, TI-FI, SYKE, VERIFIN, FFI and Chalmers. The decision on funding is expected to be taken at the next meeting of the BSR Programme Monitoring Committee on 10-11 April 2019 in Lübeck.


The second extension proposal named MEMORIAL was submitted to European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Blue Economy 2018 call, topic 1 'Blue Labs'. Its partners are IOPAN, MUT, VERIFIN, SYKE, AWI, University of Kiel, CNR Neutrongate, Chalmers and IORAS. The idea is to create a dynamic, multidisciplinary, business oriented think-tank for marine munitions'  remediation. The decision on funding will be announced in June.

Articles in MERE and NATURE 

DAIMON partners are currently working on a series of articles to be published in the Special Issue of the MERE Marine Environmental Research journal in June 2020. The volume will be titled "Conventional and chemical dumped Munitions in marine environment – environmental fate, biota impact and risk assessment".

DAIMON was also asked to produce a joint article for the NATURE magazine covering the topics of leakage & corrosion, transport of contaminated sediments, bioaccumulation, management & risk assessment of dumped munitions.

It is a great honour to have received these opportunities to share DAIMON findings to a wide audience worldwide.

The DAIMON Ecotox Toolbox


The DAIMON Ecotox Toolbox is the major deliverable created by the Thünen Institute in collaboration with all other project partners. The main Toolbox components are: 

1) Strategy how to analyse and assess the impact of dumped chemical and conventional munitions and associated hazardous substances on contamination and health status of exposed organisms. 

2) Description of methods to be applied.

After validation, those methods are considered tools for detection of munitions’ traces, the release of hazardous substances and the biological effects of exposure in wild marine organisms (e.g., fish and mussels). In addition, tools are provided addressing other useful approaches (e.g., lab toxicity studies, cage exposure studies) as well as data analysis, risk assessment and the incorporation of the Toolbox into the DAIMON Decision Support System (DSS). Technical information on the tools is detailed in individual Toolbox Fact Sheets with information relevant for each of the methods.

It is envisaged that the application of the Toolbox shall become the standard approach in future efforts by research or regulatory bodies as well as the industry to monitor and assess ecological threats posed by dumped marine munitions. This will be the goal of the planned DAIMON 2 extension project.

Final DAIMON cruises


Franken shipwreck

In Fall 2018 three cruises on board of R/V Oceania were carried out to fill the gaps in the DAIMON hydroacoustic database.

The October cruise was devoted to surveying of the “Franken” shipwreck located in the area of outer Gulf of Gdańsk. A detailed mapping of the wreck and its surrounding was performed in search for conventional munitions. Due to harsh weather conditions, this task was suspended and instead, mapping of the inner part of the Gulf of Gdańsk was performed – close to the Gdynia harbor, where munitions were suspected to lay on the bottom. In this area two successful AUV missions were held, 40 suspected objects were found and those most promising were designated for the visual inspection. 

During the next cruise in November two additional AUV surveys were performed in the same area. Based on the obtained hydroacoustic data, the presence of munitions in the vicinity of the wreck could not be confirmed. 

During the September cruise, three successful AUV missions were conducted in Gulf of Gdańsk. Based on the results from AUV, a number of 54 targets was identified as potential munitions. Part of them was again inspected by ROVs and sediment sampling. 

All data collected in the last stage of DAIMON was combined into a database, including hydroacoustic data, magnetometric measurements and video footage from the visual inspections of the objects.

Finalisation of the DSS

In the last 12 month of the DAIMON project, the main part of TUCs work was to integrate the risk-labelled data from the project partners, such as the VRAKA model, to start the finalisation of the DSS. Together with the project partners the data had to be analysed and put in a structure compatible with the DSS. Out of the data from the project partners and the discussion with the experts, TUC defined the training data sets for the risk categorisation and the general structure of the neural nets.

To test and validate the defined structure and to control the training phase, a user interface for the handling of the neural nets parameter was implemented. The interface visualised the torus structure of the nets (see figure below), so that the specific pattern for each risk label categorisation can be analysed and validated to re-train the nets if necessary and to fine-tune the DSS structure.


Pattern of the different activity states of the neural nets

Mercury in bottom sediments ​

A complex mercury study, including novel thermo-desorption technique, total and methylmercury measurements were carried out at the IOPAN laboratory. After analysing nearly 150 samples of bottom sediments collected in transects of increasing distance from munitions dumpsites, the results indicate that mercury present in the form of primers and detonators (mainly as mercury fulminate) can locally contaminate the sediments and be potentially bioavailable for the marine organisms. Even though the initial mercury compound can degrade, the heavy metal as such can be harmful to the environment and may undergo transformation to the most toxic mercury form – methylmercury.

The results of this study will be published in the Science of the Total Environment journal.

Phenylarsenic chemicals in cod

During the DAIMON project, VERIFIN developed several novel analysis methods for the detection of chemical warfare agent (CWA)-related phenylarsenic chemicals from marine biota samples. These methods were validated for muscle, liver, gills and bile samples in order to study uptake and distribution of CWA-related phenylarsenic chemicals in marine biota samples. Almost 200 marine biota samples from three different dumping areas were analysed. Cod (Gadus morhua) was chosen as the main species due its importance in human nutrition. Therefore, 100 cod muscle samples were analysed from Bornholm dumping area, and additionally 100 cod muscle samples were analysed from reference area. 13 % of analysed cod samples from the dumping area contained CWA-related phenylarsenic chemicals.  In addition to muscle samples, also liver, gills and bile samples from Bornholm cods were analysed. Analysis shown how these phenylarsenic chemicals are accumulated and distributed in different matrices in fish.

Positive finding were detected in cod muscle, liver and bile samples, but no CWA-related phenylarsenic chemicals were found in cod gills.

In vitro metabolism studies were performed in collaboration with Thünen Institute and SYKE. These studies gave a good sight how these CWA-related phenyl arsenic chemicals are metabolized and also novel metabolites were detected and identified. All that information gained from chemical analysis and in vitro metabolism studies are important in the future when evaluating the total CWA concentrations in fish or other marine biota.

VERIFIN analysed also 78 sediment samples from different dumping areas. Analysis revealed that a remarkable part of the sediments samples contained CWA-related chemicals. Among these were some samples with high amounts of phenylarsenic compounds, and most of the positive samples contained small amounts of sulfur mustard. Additionally, small concentrations of phenylarsenic CWAs were detected from some of the pore water samples.

Selected Anchorsediment samples were screened using sophisticated high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) technique in order to identify novel CWA-related phenylarsenic chemicals, which are likely products of bacterial activities in sediments. Over ten novel chemicals were detected and their structure elucidated.


CWA-related phenylarsenic chemicals leaking into marine environment

CWA toxicity studies

Also IOPAN and MUT performed a number of pioneer experiments aiming at establishment of toxicity thresholds for sea-dumped chemical warfare agents (CWAs) based on organo-arsenic compounds, thiodiglycol (TDG) and their degradation products. A series of tests were performed on Daphnia magna, model organism for toxicity studies in aquatic biology. The experiments gave a new insight to the acute and chronic effects of the exposure to the dumped chemical munitions.


Organisms inhabitating conventional munition dumpsite in Kolberger Heide

EU Colloquium on Unexploded Munitions in the Sea

DAIMON was well represented at the organised by DG MARE on 20th February 2019 Colloquium on the Challenges of Unexploded Munitions in the Sea. 

The Colloquium seeked to enhance synergies among the different stakeholders and organizations with complementary mandates in addressing the challenge of unexploded munitions in Europe, and look on how can the EU further contribute to the solutions of this latent problem.

Among the speakers were Jacek Beldowski (IOPAN), Galina Garnaga-Budrė (LEPA), Jens Sternheim (MELUND) and Terrance P. Long (IDUM).


© 2019, Claus Boettcher



How it all began...


Jacek Bełdowski sealing the envelope with the CHEMSEA project application, March 2011

It's been 8 years, and taking into account the MERCW project even longer, that the international experts' collaboration over dumped munitions in the Baltic Sea has started in the shape we know in DAIMON.

Big thanks to Jacek & the IOPAN team and the WP leaders for the unobtrusive but steadfast leadership, and all partners for the uncompromised excellent results, full commitment on the countless 'missions' and after-all a surprisingly smooth international and multidisciplinary collaboration! 

Acknowledgments also to our Associated Organisations and countless external persons: scientists, politicians, journalists and entrepreneurs who voluntarily  contributed to this adventurous journey. 

Let us stay in touch and continue the good cooperation in other projects to come !!!