Lab work at sea: a special experience

Everything has to be taped and lashed, also in the fume hood. Pipetting  on a moving ship is a challenge! On the picture:  Mara Heinrichs and Beatriz Noriega (Research Group for Marine Geochemistry).

We have been on board Sonne already for 15 days; it feels like we have been here since forever. We know where everything is and we are so used to our working space. But it was not always like this…

Heute schreiben: Beatriz Noriega und Mara Heinrichs, beide vom ICBM aus der Forschungsgruppe für Marine Geochemie in Oldenburg. Hier an Bord sind die beiden Teil des „DOM“ Teams, sie interessieren sich vor allem für das gelöste organische Material im Meerwasser (DOM = Dissolved Organic Matter).
Today’s contribution: Beatriz Noriega and Mara Heinrichs from the Research Group for Marine Geochemistry at the ICBM in Oldenburg. On board they form part of the „DOM“ team, that is mainly interested in the dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the seawater.

Months before we came on board, the cruise had to be planned. Long packing lists had to be written, the items had to be ordered, cleaned, prepared and packed into boxes. By mid February everything had to be done for customs and ready to be shipped to New Zealand. Packing stress was at its highest point; even the tiniest item forgotten on land could result on the inability to work on board. In the middle of the ocean there is little you can do when something was forgotten or is broken, so we try to think of everything while on land. Still, the probability that we forgot something, or did not think of something, is high.

The working space on board is completely different from our lab back in Oldenburg, therefore we have to adjust and improvise a little bit with the limited material we have brought with us. This was a new and challenging experience for us that led us to discover the wonders of duct tape! 😉

Den Kühlschrank mit unseren wertvollen Proben lassen wir nie unangebunden allein. Auf dem Bild hilft Felix Milke (Masterstudent Marine Umweltwissenschaften) dem
We never leave the fridge with our precious samples unlashed! On the picture, Felix Milke (Master student Marine Environmental Sciences) is assisting the “DOM team” in setting up extractions.

Another difference from working on board is that we move all the time, some days more than others, but constantly. The laboratories are well equipped for this, but not for everyone´s needs, and that´s where duct tape comes into play. We need to make sure everything is secured and ready for storm or bad weather that would make the ship move a lot. At the beginning we had to optimize our setup and the space in the lab, now everything runs smoothly and we feel already at home. For sure, next time we work in the lab in Oldenburg, we will leave with the feeling that we should have taped everything down and lashed the fridge shut … 😉