Shores

Due to the land uplift, the shoreline and its vegetation change continuously. However, differences in water levels, wind, waves and ice condition have more short-term effects on the shore habitats. On an exposed shore, and on islands in the outer archipelago, it is more difficult for plants to root and get enough nutrition to grow. Therefore, these shores have far fewer species than beaches in sheltered bays, or in the inner archipelago.

In sheltered bays, one can find lush costal meadows. Closest to the waterline saltmarsh rush and creeping bentgrass thrive, and the garden speedwell, purple loosestrife and grass of Parnassus are found a little higher up. If you are lucky and have a trained eye, you might discover the rare eyebright Euphrasia bottnica, which is an endemic species in the Gulf of Bothnia. This means that it can only be found here and nowhere else in the world. Grazed seashore meadows are particularly rich in species. Grazing prevents common reed to take over, which unfortunately often happens, especially in the inner archipelago. Many of the seashore meadows in Kvarken are very rocky. Fine seashore meadows can be found on Tärnesören (Björkögrunden), on the northern and eastern shores of Björkö, and on Mickelsörarna (Flannskären and Krokskäret). If you travel further south, you can find representative costal meadows on several islands at Molpehällorna, such as the islands of Trälhavet.

Image 1: Seashore meadow, Slåttskär

Image 2: Seashore meadow, Valsörarna

Stony banks are very common in the Kvarken archipelago and can be found throughout the area. Stony banks in the outer archipelago, or in other exposed areas, have no or very little vegetation, while those in sheltered areas increasingly begin to look like stony bank meadows. Between rocks right at the waterline, one can find reed canary grass and the endemic hair grass Deschampsia bottnica. A little higher up are sea campion, garden speedwell and tufted vetch, which give colour to the otherwise rather grey beach. If you pay attention, you may see more unusual species such as the bitter sweet and wild angelica litoralis.

Image 3: Bare stony bank

Image 4: Stony bank covered with vegetation, Valsörarna

Boulder beaches are also very common in the area, especially on Mickelsörarna, Valsörarna and Rönnskär. Close to the waterline nothing rarely grows, but higher up are found reed canary grass, raspberry, tansy and tufted vetch mount between the large blocks.

Image 5: Typical boulder beach, Mickelsörarna

Gravel and sand beaches are rare in Kvarken. But if you travel out to Norrskär or Storskär (Rönnskär), you may see both types. Gravel beaches have similar vegetation as stony beaches, but on the sandy beaches you can find the purplish sea pea, tufts of lyme grass and sea sandwort spreading out like a green carpet on the sand.

Image 6: Gravel and sand beach, Norrskär

Image 7: Gravel and sand beach, Norrskär

Cliffs are not so common in the area, and where they exist, their surface is quite small. In rock crevices, you can find plants that can withstand drought and sun: biting stonecrop, sea campion and orpine. At Norrskär, but also at Rönnskären (Ytterbådan and a few other islands in the north), Molpe (Söderhällorna, Trälhavet) and on the northern islands of Rödgrynnorna there are representative sea cliffs.

Image 8: Bare cliffs, Norrskär

Image 9: Cliffs covered with some vegetation

Wind and waves can gather algae, reeds and other vegetation in drift lines on the beach, especially on islands further out in the archipelago. These beach ridges are found particularly at Fäliskäret (Rönnskär), the north side of East Norrskär and Oxgrynnan, west of Storskär on Valsörarna. Because the beach ridges are highly nutritious and rich in nitrogen, there is also lush vegetation growing on them. Bifid hemp-nettle, woad and Valeriana sambucifolia subsp. salina are common species on drift lines.

Image 10: Drift line. Norrberget on Norrskär

Image 11: Drift line with vegetation, Valsörarna

Sources:

Airaksinen O., Karttunen K. (red.), 1999. Natura 2000 handbok över de finska naturtyperna, Swedish translation (Åhman M. och Stenberg M.) of the Finnish edition Natura 2000 – luontotyyppiopas, Suomen ympäristökeskus, Ympäristöopas 46, p. 194, 2001.

Forststyrelsen. 2010. Skötsel- och användningsplan för Kvarkens yttre skärgård, förslag.

Hietikko-Hautala T. 2010. Jääkauden jälkinäytös – Merenkurkun saariston maailmanperintö. Waasa Graphics, Vasa

Ollqvist S. 2005. Skötsel- och användningsplan för Mickelsörarna-Rödgrynnorna. Länsi Suomen ympäristökeskuksen duplicate 121/2005. Metsähallitus, Vaasa

Rinkineva L., Bader P. 1998. Kvarkens natur. Kvarkenrådets publikationer 10, Vaasa