Tentacles from the deep – The cephalopod fauna off Madeira

The last blog posts showed you scary-looking deep-sea fishes, gelatinous beauties and mesmerizing microscopic organisms. Another frequent organism group we captured during MSM126 which did not enjoy a spotlight so far are the cephalopods. Cephalopods are molluscs – like snails or mussels – and are marine inhabitants which often occupy high trophic positions in food […]


As part of our cruise MSM126 focus on the “jellyweb”, we are also interested in siphonophores. Even in the vast and mysterious world of marine life teeming with peculiar inhabitants, these distinctive creatures stand out. While they share similarities with jellyfish, particularly in having stinging cells known as cnidocysts, they do not look much like […]

An intersection of art and science

by Karen Osborn I am a marine biologist because of the to infrequent time at sea and my fascination with the animals that inhabit our ocean.  There was a time though that I considered following a different path, that of an artist.  Though I chose science and leave painting and sculpture to my almost nonexistent […]

An der Schnittstelle von Kunst und Wissenschaft

Von Karen Osborn Ich bin Meeresbiologin, weil ich gerne auf See bin und mich die Tiere, die unsere Ozeane bewohnen, faszinieren. Es gab jedoch eine Zeit, als ich mir durchaus vorstellen konnte, einen ganz anderen Weg einzuschlagen, den Weg der Künstlerin. Obwohl ich mich für die Wissenschaft entschieden habe (und das Malen und die Bildhauerei […]

Yay! Yo-Yo!

It’s ten o’clock in the evening, the research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN is moored off the coast of Madeira. The bridge gives the announcement: “On station in about ten minutes”. And off we go for another night of yo-yo CTD cruising. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, today we’re diving deep into why […]

Unknown fish from the depths

Aboard the Merian we are investigating the entire food web off Madeira. This includes all water depths and therefore all ocean habitats. The different trophic levels range from tiny algae, called phytoplankton, to the large predatory fish that hardly have to worry about being hunted. The diversity of fish in the Eastern Atlantic is huge […]

A physical oceanographer alone among biologists

Anton and I have just brought CTD cast number 45 to light. While we are once again shaking freshly tapped bottles with great enthusiasm, I think I can make out question marks in Jamileh’s expression as she smiles good morning to us. That’s what everyone here seems to be thinking: 45 CTD casts already? And […]

Forensics in the sea

We explore the entire tree of life on the research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN: animals, algae, bacteria, and viruses. The cruise focuses on the food web and ocean biodiversity. However, some animals, especially hunters such as squid and whales, are too big, fast or camera-shy for our instruments. To detect these top predators, we search […]


Exciting plankton creatures have been making their way into the laboratories on board RV Merian since we left Funchal almost two weeks ago. Several scientists and engineers from German, Portuguese and US institutions set up shop in the chemistry, dry and deck labs on the main deck to prepare for plankton sampling and analysis. Since […]