For the second time I joined a marine research expedition organized by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). I was part of a working group within the section “Ecological Chemistry.” The research area was the Danish Limfjord. Luckily, it was possible to organize the cruise despite the current corona situation, of course in compliance with safety measures. We started on 15 August 2020, from the AWI´s location in Bremerhaven. By car, we drove to the North of Denmark where we stayed at a marine station from Aarhus University. From there, we set off on our daily excursions with the small research vessel “Uthörn.”
Research expeditions are always a good way to get in touch with other scientists and research topics. We shared the ship with a group studying microplastics from the University of Aalborg. It was exciting to learn from my colleagues and to get to know the methods in microplastics research. The research field of my working group was toxic phytoplankton. Harmful algal blooms can pose a health risk when the toxins pass through the food chain and contaminate our seafood. We took water samples, harvested the microalgae, and extracted their toxins for later analysis at the institute.
Working on a ship can be very challenging depending on the sea conditions. In the fjord, the waters were rather calm. However, on the last day when we navigated a transect into the Baltic Sea, some scientists got seasick and could not work. Even though the working days were very long, we often had good conversations and scientific exchange in the evenings. Sometimes there was enough time left to go swimming in the fjord close to the station. This expedition was a great experience and very exciting.