ZEISS Primovert: 20,000 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

August 26, 2015 ZEISS Microscopy

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When a scientist and a film-maker meet, exciting projects may well be the result. These can lead to a ZEISS microscope being used in a submarine 1,000 meters below the surface of the sea. ZEISS Microscopy went to Cologne to meet submarine builder and underwater filmmaker Joachim Jakobsen and ecology professor Hartmut Arndt.

Jakobsen is meeting Arndt in his office at the University of Cologne’s Biocenter. There are two laptops sitting on a table. Impressive underwater shots and images of the inside of the LULA 1000 submarine, designed and constructed by Jakobsen, move across the screen. Next to it, Arndt and Jakobsen are proudly testing ZEISS Primovert microscope which has just been delivered and will soon be on board the submarine on the Azores. They are very excited about their new device.

The scientist and the filmmaker have been working together for over two years. Arndt happened to hear about Jakobsen and his project in a radio show and contacted him straight away. The professor carries out research at the zoological institute of the University of Cologne. His department is involved in analyzing the diversity of nanofauna that were previously hardly noticed. Scientists at the department are focusing on micrometer-range deep-sea protists and their role in the carbon balance of the deep sea. Jakobsen offers the ideal conditions for observing and examining these organisms in their natural environment. The cooperation has already yielded some initial results. In her recent thesis, masters student Lea Lehmann recreated dives in a 3D model and used these as a basis for quantifying the various species and their vertical distribution. She has also been on-site herself.

Plummeting 1,000 meters in 45 minutes
Jakobsen and his wife founded the non-profit foundation Rebikoff-Niggeler-Stiftung, which now operates the 7.50-meter-long LULA 1000 submarine, on the Azorean island of Faial in 1994. Lula is Portuguese for “squid.” The submarine was completed in 2013 and can accommodate three people. One dive lasts about four to five hours, and about 40 to 50 dives are completed each year. Jakobsen was involved in underwater photography and film from a young age. He experimented with microscopes for the first time in his school days. With a twinkle in his eyes, he says: “There is so much to discover underwater: fish, jellyfish, shrimp, squid…” Corals can even be found at depths of 100 meters and below. Jakobsen and his wife discovered an entire coral reef with yellow cold-water corals at a depth of 300 meters. This fascinating world is opened up to them with the aid of headlights and good cameras – and from now on, a ZEISS microscope, too! As the marine organisms swim by the submarine’s plexiglass window, the Jakobsens film them with as much detail as possible. Many species are still undocumented and unnamed. With the aid of the microscope, the Jakobsens would like to reveal single-cell organisms that are not visible with the naked eye. They collect sea water using a type of tap right inside the submarine, then search the samples for single-celled organisms on-site using a ZEISS Primovert routine microscope. There is always the possibility of finding yet another new species. The discovery of new species of deep-sea fauna is capturing more and more attention in science and society. Summing up, Jakobsen gives us some food for thought: “More people have been on Mount Everest than in the deep-sea.”


Read more about our ZEISS laboratory microscopes and solutions for your daily checks or ZEISS Primovert specifically.


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