Project facts

Duration: 2009-05-01 - 2011-04-30
Project consortium: SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden (SE), National Museum of Denmark (DK), The Dutch Agency for Cultural Heritage (NL), The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (DK), University of Gothenburg (SE), The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde (DK)
Funding bodies: Seventh Framework Program
Subject areas: Changing environments, Underwater heritage
Contact: Dr. Charlotte Björdal (Coordinator)
Budget: € 1 104 362


WreckProtect Project is an EU-funded project under Fremaework 7, theme 6, Environment. The project started in April 2009 and will last for 2 years.

The main objectives of WreckProtect are:

  • To develop a user-friendly tool to locate and predict the spread of the shipworm Teredo navalis.
  • To investigate and summarize state of art methods for insitu protection of these ship wrecks.

Teredo is an invasive species that has infested many shipwrecks in the Skagerrak and Kattegat and may now be spreading eastwards into the Baltic. Shopworms grow by eating through submerged wood, creating tunnels that weaken the structure and render it highly suceptible to damage by strong currents or contact from passing objects. Shipworms are now considered a significant threat to underwater cultural heritage, such as historically important shipwrecks, in the Baltic.

Impacts & Results

WreckProtect researchers have summarized the tolerance of diffeent stages of the shipworm life-cycle to salinity, temperature, oxygen content and currents. These tolerances were then used to model shipworm distributions for the periods 1980-2008 (hindcast) and 2009-2020 (predicted).

A Geographical Information System tool has now been developped to show the results in the form of maps that highlight seasonal and long-term changes in the distributionof shipworm in the Kattegat and Baltic. So-called "Hot Spots" on these maps highlight locations where shipworms are most likely to survive, infest and reproduce. The maps will be publicly available to help managers and researchers to evaluate infestation risk of historical shipwrecks in the Baltic, and thereby assist in prioritizing protection of these wrecks.

Results show that shipwroms are common throughout the Kattegat and Danish Belts during the summer (June-September), but less frequent farther east toward Bornholm in the southern Baltic. The distribution of shipworm reproduction in autumn (October) has increased over three successive decades. Detailed investigations are now being done to determine whether this increase spread is a result of climate change.


Cover image "Preparing for lifting" by Maritime Archaeology @ University of Southern DK is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.