Student - November 22, 2018

Diving for science

Eva van der Graaf

Who? Marretje Adriaanse (25), MSc student of Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management
What? Thesis research with the BiogenInk project
Where? Kaş, Turkey

‘I didn’t really intend to go abroad. And yet I ended up in Turkey this summer. I came across a flyer somewhere about WUR’s BiogenInk project in Turkey. It was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. So, along with another student, I went off to spend three months in Kas, on the southern Turkish coast.


The objective of BiogenInk is to research how you can combat water pollution caused by fish farming, and make aquaculture more sustainable. The farmed fish are kept in net cages in the sea. The fish feed and their faeces pollute the surrounding sea with nutrients and bacteria. I looked into the extent to which sponges are capable of filtering this out of the water. We did various underwater experiments. In one of them, we placed the sponges in closed chambers. We took a water sample at the start and again after 10 minutes. Then we tested water samples to see what effect the sponge had had on the water quality.


Even though Turkey is not all that far away, it really is another culture. The food, the music... you really are away from the Netherlands. Of all my expectations of the country, maybe one quarter matched the reality. For example, I expected to meet a lot of religious people, but most of the people I knew in our village were not religious. The region where we were was very modern and very like Greece. The landscape was stunning too; that surpassed my expectations.

We shared an apartment with the Turkish PhD student we were working with. When we had a day off, we enjoyed going off on adventures. We went to a Turkish bathhouse, and we rented a car to go into the mountains. The PhD student had a lot of friends in the area and took us on several boat rides and other trips, like paragliding and visiting ruins by scooter. And we also went to a real Turkish wedding, of a friend of his.

Diving certificate

Just before I left I got my advanced diving certificate. When we got to Turkey, the other student and I got our Rescue Diver certificates as well. I loved the diving and I got a lot better at it. I learned most about safety, communication and the importance of being well-prepared. But however well you prepare, you always encounter problems under water. And you often have to come up with a solution on the spot. We couldn’t talk, of course, so we did it all through sign language.’