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Meteor-Blog 31. July 2008: Education onboard METEOR

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METEOR not only represents a platform for thrilling research but also is a place of eduction. Rafael Stiens, a recently finished chemical laboratory assistant at the Max-Planck-Institute for marine Microbiology in Bremen. For today's blog he interviewed the "ship's AZUBI" Steven Breitung, apprentice onboard METEOR as a ship mechanic


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

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31. July 2008 (Author: Rafael Stiens)


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Aktuelle Position


Today's Meteor-Blog is contributed by:


Rafael stiensHello, my name is Rafael Stiens and I’m a chemical laboratory assistant.

In January I finished my education at the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology. Afterwards, I was directly employed by the institute and worked for half a year in the department of “Molecular Ecology”. Recently I was hired by the working group “Microbial Habitats”. My main tasks are the participation in research cruises, FISH analysis (a method to identify microorganisms in water and sediment samples) and nutrient measurements in water samples.

31. Juli: shiptrackThis is my first research cruise and I’m still getting used to life and work on board of a research vessel. Up to now I’m adapting quite well. I’m having lots of fun and am learning incredibly much! My tasks here are the processing and preparation of different samples from sediment cores. 31. Juli: Bild 1These samples are used for example to quantify respiration rates of microorganisms, to analyze DNA and RNA and to measure sediment porosity. Additionally, I take samples for the analysis of so-called biomarkers. These are mainly different kinds of lipids, which are indicators for the identity of diverse organisms.




Rafael learns how to subsample gravity cores for microbiological analyses


Interview with Steven Breitung, ship mechanic apprentice

For today’s BLOG I have interviewed one of the ship’s apprentices:

Steven Breitung, 23 years old, is apprentice onboard METEOR as a ship mechanic and still in his first year of apprenticeship.

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Rafael (left) and Steven (right) in front of one of the four diesel generators of the Meteor


What made you choose your job?

After I had finished school, I learned to become a mason. Very soon, I noticed that this job was not right for me. After that, I decided to try out different professions. For example, I once collected experiences as a construction mechanic in a shipyard. Then I had to serve in the German military, where I joined the Marines. During that time I realized that I liked seafaring very much, but not as a soldier. So I inquired the possibilities for working at sea and then sent applications to different companies. Finally, I was hired by the shipping company Laeisz.

Did you plan to work on a research vessel?

Well, our company owns 60 ships and I didn’t know in advance which kind of work has to be done on freighters, tankers or research vessels. From my experiences up to now, work on the Meteor is the most interesting. Because of the scientists on board, you always meet new people and there’s more variety in the tasks.

How do you cope with life at sea, and to work so closely with people you didn’t know at first?

All in all, you get used to it; at least if you’re the right type of person. I like to get in contact with so many different kinds of people, the crew and the scientists.

How do you feel about being away from home for so long?

That’s not really a problem for me. I like to see much of the world while I’m young and I also like to travel a lot. I’m always curious about new countries and people.

Did you ever really mess up some tasks during your apprenticeship?

Nope. Of course everyone makes one or the other little mistake, but up to now there hasn’t been anything serious. And of course, you learn from your mistakes.

What are your aims for the future?

First, I want to finish my apprenticeship, then I want to study.

Do you already know what you want to study?

I’m not yet sure about that. Up to now, in the course of my apprenticeship I’ve mostly gained experience in the technical sector. But I’m also interested in nautical tasks, so I’ll first have to find out what suits me best.

I wish you success with your plans. Thank you for the interview.


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