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Winterexpedition mit dem Forschungsschiff MARIA S. MERIAN auf Nord- und Ostsee

Woche 3 - Mayya Gogina: Frost and Fascination

Mayya Gogina
Mayya Gogina (far right), 33, has studied in Moscow, and is now Postdoc at IOW (Photos & Chart: IOW)

To be out at sea on a research vessel is always fascinating. So far this is my longest research cruise, covering the largest geographic area, including the habitats of the North Sea, in particular the Skagerrak with highest biodiversity of benthic fauna I have ever collected samples from. MARIA S. MERIAN is the biggest research vessel I have been working on, best suited for winter conditions with low temperatures and storms we have experienced.

Samples collected at SECOS stations in the German Baltic will contribute to the assessment of seasonal and inter-annual variability of structure and functioning of benthic community. Perhaps we will also be able to track some indication of the influence of recent Major Baltic Inflows on macrofauna. Taxonomic processing of Skagerrak samples will require a lot of persistence from my colleagues in the lab, but revealing the changes or the stability of the community comparing with historical data from such pioneers as Petersen (1918) and Enequist (1949) is promising to be rewarding.

Chilling marine wind blows away, at least for a while, the land routines that overfill your head in everyday life (family, kids, work, home, school, kindergarten etc.). You also have some minutes to make up your mind and relax, especially if you are not the chief scientist of the cruise.

Most of my work time in the institute is with the data on PC. All you see are numbers and letter combinations, in few cases pictures and photos of some species, and colorful maps. I do love mining numbers and making maps, but what does that have to do with reality? When collecting samples yourself, the letters and numbers are getting replaced by the amazing nature behind them and a diversity of alive creatures like e.g. sea spiders or sea pen, that emerge on a muddy sea floor. The sharp borders on the maps blur and you realize again that nature is a continuum and even best experts among us know only tiny parts of its infinity.

The dimension of time and space vanish. After the first few days of the cruise you get the feeling you’ve been here at least for few weeks, after few weeks you feel like the cruise have just started – so how can the end approach so fast? Insomnia at night displaced by waves gently rocking you to sleep in the middle of the day. The small closed world of the limited ship space and few people granting the feeling of how immense the world is and people are.

MERIAN's course in the 3rd expedition week took the research vessel close to its home port Rostock (see station 27).
For the most part of week 3, the Baltic Sea seemed to be having a winter rest: almost no wind and hardly any swell
Greifer vor "Schieferhimmel"
Mayya: "When collecting samples yourself, the numbers are getting replaced by the amazing reality of nature and diversity behind them."

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