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Meteor-Blog 25. July 2008: Rendezvous at the caboose

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In today's blog chief scientist Antje Boetius introduces her work and duties being the cruise leader - and the most important man aboard: the ship's cook!

Planetearth Blog

Does the biodiversity of deep-sea organisms play a role for the climate on Planet Earth? Questions all about marine research will be answered directly aboard of the German research vessel Meteor by cruise leader Prof. Antje Boetius and her crew. In cooperation with the geoportal from 17.07.08 to 24.08.08 they contribute a Science-Blog of METEOR expedition M76/3 GUINECO – MARUM research of fluid and gas seeps on the Westafrican continental margin. Technical highlight of the cruise is the remote-controlled under water robot QUEST4000 by MARUM that will be deployed for taking fauna and sediments samples and conduction of in situ experiments. Go on a dive down to places no other human being has ever seen before: explore the fascinating deep-sea fauna and watch the scientists’ work at gas and fluid seeps deep down on the ocean bottom.

Expedition M76/3b is a collaboration of MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at Bremen University and its associated institutes MPI and AWI as well as the French research institute IFREMER and the University of Paris.

More informationen of Meteor-Blog and expedition M76/3B

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25. July 2008 (Author: Antje Boetius)

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Present Position

Today's blog is contributed by:

Antje Boetius: Portrait“My name is Antje Boetius and I am the chief scientist of the expedition leg M76/3b. I am a professor at the Jacobs University Bremen and the leader of the working group “Microbial habitats” at the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology. This is my 38th expedition, and the 7th as chief scientist. Chief scientists have to plan the research with all scientists on board and its realization with the captain and his crew. They have to inform all participants, try to fulfill their wishes and keep them busy with work :-). Also, chief scientists need to react quickly to unforeseen changes in the working plan, and come up with alternative plans – so basically they do the time management on board.

25. Juli: shiptrackI really like research at sea, to me it is always an adventure how many different people representing a wide range of age groups, expertises and nationalities can work together for a common goal – to explore and understand the ocean. Most of all I like to work with deep water robots. They allow you to work directly at the seafloor and to see details as if you would walk through your garden at home. Currently, the ROV QUEST is diving again after some repairs – we hope that we will have a successful dive to interesting accumulations of a special symbiotic clam inhabiting the gas seeps of the deep African margin.”

Rendezvous at the caboose

Today’s Blog is not so much about research, but about another member of the ship’s crew. Some say he is the most important man on board: the ship’s cook! After tonight’s dinner offering the famous METEOR-Greek-Dish Antje Boetius had a conversation with Franz Grün, the cook of the METEOR.

25. Juli: Bild 1

Picture 1: Franz Grün and Antje Boetius in conversation

Franz, since when do you sail?

I work at sea since 1968 (40 years!), but I was on land for about ten years within that period. I worked for the Norddeutsche Lloyd, Balken Reederei, Urag, Hansa, RF and now Laeisz.

Where are you from, and how did you get to be a seafarer?

I come from Roth, close by Nürnberg, and it was my curiosity and hunger for adventure which brought me to work at sea. In my village there were a few sailors, and it was basically them who introduced me to the idea of being a seaman. Of course my parents were not too happy about this.

Where did you learn to cook?
First I learned the profession of a butcher, and then I worked as a cook’s apprentice on board. I learned cooking on board of freighters, before I became a ship’s cook on research vessels. This is the typical career for a ship’s cook. My first ship as a cook was the research vessel SONNE.

And when you are at home, do you cook too?

Well, yes, but my wife is not always happy with it and it is often too much (laughs). So often she cooks, we rarely go out for dinner.

For the many cruises you did, what is your favorite region?

Anything tropical, especially South America, and South Asia. I like it best when it is warm outside.

What abilities does one need to become a ship’s cook, and would you do it again if you had another choice?

You need to be reliable, highly organized and quite farsighted, and you need to be able to work independently. And you should be able to enjoy life on board. If I would do it again? I do not know, I grew into his job without much planning, but maybe I would not do it again. It is really difficult for family and especially wives to handle these long times of absences, and you cannot blame them for it.

Why are there no female ship’s cooks?

Well, there are some, for example on the Antarctic station. But in our company we do not have female ship cooks, I don’t think they apply for this post.

Have you ever had a real disaster in the kitchen, and would you share the story?

I have made mistakes, but never a big one (smiles). There was always food on the table, so - no, no real disaster. Of course a ship’s cook knows some tricks to avoid disasters.

Is it true that when there is too much salt in the food, the cook is in love?

I guess not, because as often as there is too much salt in the food, you cannot be in love (laughs). There are several sayings that are not really true. For example, one says when one finds a laurel leave in the food, you must kiss the cook, but no one ever kissed me for the laurel.

Ok Franzl, we will see what happens if you cook some laurel soup tomorrow :-).
Thank you so much for the conversation!


25. Juli: Bild 2

Picture 2: Franz Grün in his kitchen on board METEOR