Moon is rising – Sun is setting on Narvik. Our beloved airport Narvik Airport (NVK) is lit in the dusk. In the Foreground you can see the 180,002 ton bulk carrier “Navios Happiness” of Malta being loaded with iron ore by pier 5 – destined for El Dikheila.
The black “beard” you see hanging from the branches of this birch has got really nothing to do with Treebeard – the ent – from Tolkien’s “Lord of The Rings”. It is called “treskjegg” in Norwegian – directly translated: “Treebeard”. It is actually one of extremely many species of Lichen (pronounced “lai-kenn”. Lichens are actually a symbiotic organism that consists of fungi and algae. The fungi provides proteines, salts and shelter. The sheltering structures contains, in addition to the fungus cells, algae-cells. The algae has chlorophyll and thus it produces sugar which it feeds to the fungus. A tiny ecological system in it self.
My friend Gunnar has studied lichens for a long time for The University of Tromsoe. Lichens are very sensitive to the environment and mapping lichens in a specific area, species, how much there is of the various species etc., is a very precise indicator of environmental changes; climate, acidity and pollutants. Any change in these paramaeteres can quite quickly be registered in the compositions of lichens, and thus has become a very interesting field in Biology and Ecology.