Bremerhaven – Fram Strait – Bremerhaven: since 24 May, the Polarstern has once again been underway. Her goal: to gather samples from the Arctic waters between Greenland and Svalbard. For five weeks, the crew and researchers will live together in cramped quarters on board the icebreaker. People run into each other on the working deck, in the gangways, in the break rooms or on the bridge. Time to ask a few questions.
How many trips on board the Polarstern does this make for you?
This is my first time.
What is your research project here on board?
I’m a student assistant in the PEBCAO (Plankton Ecology and Biogeochemistry in a Changing Arctic Ocean) group, and filter phytoplankton out of the seawater.
What do you hope the outcomes will provide?
You’d have to ask Katja; I’m mainly just an assistant.
What’s the most challenging part of doing your work on a ship?
It’s hard to find a stopping point; you could just keep on working forever, and there’s always something to do.
What’s your favourite part of the ship?
The working deck, I think. That’s where you come into contact with other people, and it’s where the researchers and crew come together. And when the sea is high, it’s a great place for watching the water.
What was the biggest surprise when you first came on board?
I expected everything to be a bit more rustic. Much more pragmatic and not so cosy, with lots of pictures. And I was surprised how hard it was to find my way around the ship at first.
When you travel, what do you absolutely have to take along?
Normally I’d say my laptop, but I don’t use it here. A book, a good thriller, is a must!
What do you think is special about living and working on the Polarstern?
The lack of formality; otherwise you would never have breakfast with your boss, or chat with them in the evening, here we’re on a first-name basis and the classic hierarchies don’t matter. And you can see that everyone really enjoys their work! You won’t find anyone saying “I want to go home, when will this finally be over?”.
What do you do after hours?
First I make a nice roll with peanut butter and plum preserves.
Sauna, or watching for whales on deck?
Watching for whales on deck.