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Meteor-Blog 9.-10. August 2008: Hump day party!

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Inventory and a reason to celebrate: Jörn Tonnius reports about his impressions and the hump day party onboard Meteor.

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 17.08.08 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 the Meteor-Blog, an overview of all contributions to the blog and expedition M76/3B:

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9.-10. August 2008 (Author: Jörn Tonnius)

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Hump day party!

Jörn TonniusThe author Jörn Tonnius introduced himself already in BLOG of 18 July 08

9.-10. August: Bild 1

Picture 1: A busy moment in the control container of ROV QUEST. In front the two pilots, in the back the two scientists

9.-10. August. shiptrackCelebrating the half-way Party                   

This morning we finished successfully dive 223 of ROV QUEST, and many samples and measurements were retrieved (Picture 1). All were very happy, until we had a look at the cable after recovery – again it is twisted and bent so that the ROV team has to cut it and redo the cable connection, which is a major repair job. Nevertheless, we use the opportunity of a long bathymetry mapping transect to celebrate the half time of the cruise with a barbecue on deck for crew and scientists (Pictures 2-6). The exact half time of our cruise was already on Wednesday, the 5th of August, but only today we find the time for an “official” party. Hopefully, there will still be lots of dives, and many samples and long nights in the laboratory and the cold room will await us. But in ten days at the latest, Meteor will begin its journey back to Walvis Bay. So today I take a look back on what has happened so far:

9.-10. August: Bild 2Picture 2: The ship’s cooks Franz and Willy preparing the barbecue. We had steak, tuna, lamb and pork – a real feast

The group that boarded METEOR on the 17th of July could have hardly been more diverse. We are 30 students, technicians, graduate students, post docs and scientists from more than six different institutes and countries. Old hands with more than 30 research cruises work together with total freshmen, who had not spent a day at sea before the cruise M76/3b. And then there is the ship crew of 32 seamen without whom none of this would have been possible.

9.-10. August: Bild 3Picture 3: Our steward Jan opening the first barrel of beer

During the first days of transit, everyone had the chance to get to know each other during the daytime preparation of the laboratories and the evenings on deck. And just when the last victims of seasickness had adapted to Neptune’s realm, all of us together were thrown into the cold waters of our first sampling. Of course, some things went wrong at first and everyone had to learn many new methods and work procedures. By now, I think you could wake any member of the team at three o’clock in the morning by shouting “Samples are on deck in 15 minutes” and he or she would instantly know what to do. Since the dives and working schedules were often subject to sudden changes due to technical problems, we heard exactly this wake up call already a few times. 9.-10. August: Bild 4Today, after 14 days of station work, mountains of mud, mussels and tubeworms have made their way through the labs of the Meteor and hopefully many more samples will follow. And throughout all the stress, the sleep deprivation and the sometimes frustration about diverse technical malfunctions, I could imagine no better team to work with during my first seagoing expedition.

Picture 4: All assemble for the barbecue party on deck of METEOR

After the end of the cruise on the 24th of August we will again be scattered across this planet, but I am sure many of us will stay in touch. First of all, there will be a joined analysis of the data, but then there is even something equally valuable: we have made new friends, many shared unique memories and experiences and quite a lot of new knowledge/insights about ourselves and our aims in life.

9.-10. August: Bild 6Picture 5: The chief scientist Antje talking with sailor Jenny about the good old times on METEOR

But then, every one of us misses friends and family, and many occasions that we could not attend. Just to name a few: Four days ago, Rafael’s sister celebrated her 4th birthday, today is my 10th anniversary of graduating from high school, André spends his honeymoon on the ship without his wife, Karine’s children will see her only for 1 week of the entire summer holidays. Therefore, today’s greetings go especially to all those who are waiting for us and to whom we will return soon. We will never forget our time here, but we are looking forward to be back with you soon.