ICELAND, Lake Myvatn - December 2000
Optical instruments for environmental education
Lake Myvatn and its outflow, the river Laxa, comprise an extraordinarily unique wetland system in the volcanically active zone of Iceland. The lake is a RAMSAR site (an international designation for wetlands of importance). From the time of the original Icelandic settlements local inhabitants have made their living sheep farming, fishing and sustainably gathering waterfowl eggs. Since the late 1960s diatomite has been dredged from the lake and processed at a nearby factory. Despite overwhelming evidence that the mining has negative effects on the lake's ecosystem, the country's environmental ministry recently announced that the dredging will expand into the lake's southern basin. The Lake Myvatn Research Station has conducted studies and worked with the community to protect the lake for the past 25 years. Seacology has purchased optical equipment, microscopes, stereoscopes and telescopes for the community school. Research Station staff is working with schoolchildren to study the lake's abundant lifeforms, and arm them with knowledge that will help them shape the future of the lake and the neighboring community.*
UPDATE November 2003 - The equipment continues to be put to good use by students at the Lake Myvatn school.
UPDATE January 2006 - Dr. Paul Cox visited the project in summer 2005, and was pleased to report that the major polluting industry at the lake has now withdrawn, largely for economic reasons, but perhaps because they also found the research performed by the schoolchildren to be unnerving. Dr. Cox also visited with both the current and former presidents of Iceland, who were deeply impressed with Seacology's efforts.