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10.5 million SEK to a study on bird death

Baltic Sea 2020 and Signhild Engkvist’s Foundation is funding a new project led by Lennart Balk, Associate Professor at Stockholm University to investigate and identify the causes of thiamine deficiency in eider and mussels in the Baltic Sea.

Thiamine is a B vitamin that is essential for normal functioning of the brain and the vital metabolism in other tissues and organs. The reason for thiamine deficiency is unknown but the result is disastrous; paralyzed and dead animals and birds.
Previous studies indicate that it is probably not hazardous substances that are the cause but that it probably has been an increase of a substance that destructs thiamine in the sea.

The project will last for three years, starting in autumn 2010. Through studies of eider's diet, the blue mussel, the project team will try to find the substance that leads to thiamine deficiency. In addition, the project team will give thiamine pellets to eider females with before reproduction. The pellets are placed under the skin along with a radio transmitter. The females' reproductive performance is then compared with a control group that is also fitted with radio transmitters.

"We believe it is imperative to find answers to what is causing the thiamine deficiency in birds and fish in the Baltic Sea to see if and what possible measures could be taken to terminate the development, therefore we support the research project lead by Lennart Balk", says Conrad Stralka, Executive Director Baltic Sea 2020.

The work will be documented using photography and video filming and reported to the public in connection with the scientific presentation.     

For more information please contact:

Lennart Balk, Stockholms University,+46 8 674 7721,
Conrad Stralka, Baltic Sea 2020, +46 8-673 97 62,
Margareta Skrifvare, Signhild Engkvists Foundation, +46 8-726 80 94,