Special places: The Archipelago of Krunnit

Krunnit. Just saying the word makes me smile. It takes me back to my childhood when my grandfather used to tell stories about Krunnit, because he was a fisherman in addition to his main work, and used to go there with a small and slow fishing boat from time to time, when the weather was good enough. The area was protected already since 1937, but it was officially protected from 1956. I remember thinking that Krunnit must be a magical place, when listening to the stories and looking at different rocks that my grandfather had brought from the area before it was protected.

Island in sunset lighting. Ulkokrunni pooki can be seen in middle of the island.
View towards Ulkokrunni-island from north. Photo by Elina Keskitalo, Metsähallitus.
Sunset on Ulkokrunni-island. Photo by Metsähallitus.

The archipelago of Krunnit was formed after the last ice sheet melted and land started to uplift (more info about the geological history of the Bothnian Bay). The landscape has been and still is constantly changing, because new land area is revealed every year under water. The main reason for protecting the area was birds, but the area is also valuable due to plants (both above and under the surface). The area can only be reached by boat and there is no safe harbor for landing, waters are shallow and rocky. Pihlajakari is the only place where it is allowed to land in Ulkokrunni, and during 15.7. –31.8. the island can be visited following restrictions.

Map of Krunnit-archipelago.
The archipelago of Krunnit is situated in front of the municipality of Ii and it consists of two big islands, Ulkokrunni and Maakrunni, and many smaller islands. On this map you can see how shallow the area is and where our marine team did mappings in Summer 2017.
Two, almost fallen wooden buildings and very rocky yard.
Old buildings in Pihlajakari, the only place where you are allowed to land in Ulkokrunni. Photo by Metsähallitus.

In 2013, I was the luckiest girl, because I got to do an internship for Metsähallitus and one of the places where we would go during the field season was Krunnit! I could see the Pooki’s (pooki is a day beacon build to help in navigating during day time) from faraway as we travelled towards the Ulkokrunni island. We were coming with our biggest boat, Maia, and we had to leave it quite far from the shore, because the beach around the Ulkokrunni -island is veeeeery shallow. And at the time of our arrival, the water level was almost minus one meter. So, we couldn’t even use our smallest boat with engine to carry our stuff, but we had to load everything to our small rubber boat and paddle and tow it to the shore. I will never forget that day, it was such a beautiful and hot summer day and we were sweating a lot while carrying all our equipment from Maia to the research station.

Two persons dragging a rubber boat to the shore in very shallow water.
Moving to Krunnit in 2013, towing the boat with our equipment towards the shore. Photo by Metsähallitus.
A person carrying heavy load. Background there is a lot packaging waiting.
Moving to Krunnit in 2013, carrying all our equipment towards the research station. Photo by Metsähallitus.
Big rocks rising from water.
The shallow beaches of Ulkokrunni. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

The beaches of Ulkokrunni are mostly extremely shallow and sandy, but there are big rocks and boulders here and they’re making it difficult to go to the shore by boat. The shallow bays are covered with different plants, small fish and benthic animals. There are tens of waders walking in the mud and sand, searching for food. On the sky, you can see seagulls and the great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), who have one of their northernmost breeding areas close to Krunnit. There are plenty of other birds also and once on the yard of the research station I was able to catch a photo of the common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).

A person sitting on a rock with her lunch bag next to the water.
Lunch break on a rocky beach at Maakrunni. Ulkokrunni is on the background. Photo by Niina Kurikka, Metsähallitus.
Little gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus). Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.
At least 4 chicks in their nest.
Juvenile great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo)  waiting for food. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.
Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) on the yard of the research station. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Here you can find old photos telling about the history of the Krunnit in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH0yE4gHyz0

Pictures from below the surface from the archipelago of Krunnit can be found in the end of this blog text.

Written by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Water mudwort (Limosella aquatica). Photo by Elina Keskitalo, Metsähallitus.
The ten-spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius). Photo by Johanna Kantanen, Metsähallitus.
Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis) and a Bithynia snail. Photo by Niina Kurikka, Metsähallitus.
Mixed bottom (sand, gravel and rocks). Photo by Elina Keskitalo, Metsähallitus.
Autumn water starwort (Callitriche hermaphroditica) and bubbles. Photo by Johanna Kantanen, Metsähallitus.

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