A Deep Ocean Expedition with ZEISS

Interview Part 1: Diving with the Submersible "LULA 1000"

Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen dive as much as 1000 meters into the deep blue sea in their search for the ocean's hidden wonders. In the 'Lula1000', their one-of-a-kind submersible, they document species and organisms no one has ever seen before. ZEISS follows the couple in their mission to unveil the secrets found in the deep ocean. Learn more in this interview about what inspires these two.

Along with the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation (abbr. FRN), you've devoted your lives to deep sea research – what is so special about this part of the ocean?

Kirsten Jakobsen: There's either very little or no light whatsoever at these depths. This means that the organisms found there have adapted perfectly to life in environments with poor light. There are different forms of adaptation. For example, a lot of deep sea fish have large eyes which are very sensitive to light.

It's estimated that at least 90 percent of deep water fauna have bioluminescent organs, i.e. organs that produce and emit light.

What's it like to be in a submersible 1000 meters below the surface of the ocean, surrounded by darkness and thousands of tons of water?

Joachim Jakobsen: Every time I think to myself, "We're entering uncharted waters. We're the first people to come here." Sitting in the submersible I always have that feeling of euphoria an explorer enjoys. It's a privilege to discover something new about marine fauna and to bring that knowledge with me to the surface, such as when we capture previously undocumented species or animal behavior on camera. We actually don't notice the water pressure in the submersible. It's even kind of comfortable in there, the interior space is designed ergonomically.

What was your most memorable experience thus far?

Joachim Jakobsen: In June 2013 we were off the island of Pico and travled for the first time to the maximum diving depth of 1000 meters. The examiner from Germanischer Lloyd, a classification society, was with us. At a depth of around 600 meters we dove through a massive cloud of ink (approx. 50 m³) which, given its size, could only have come from a giant squid. We didn't see the animal, admittedly, but it was exhilarating to know that these giants were swimming so close to our submersible.

Like many other deep sea explorers, you have been looking for the giant squid – why do so many people want to find this famous animal?

Kirsten Jakobsen: The giant squid, architeuthis, has only been documented alive in the ocean once. Although it lives in nearly all the world's oceans and has a significant biomass, it's as if it were invisible. We know almost nothing about how it lives. That's what makes it so fascinating.

You keep a very close eye on our oceans. Has anything changed over the years?

Joachim Jakobsen: To answer this question you'd need to evaluate oceanographic data for the entire globe over a far longer period of time. The most we can do is document phenomena which occur over short periods of time, such as if we record more jellyfish in one year than in another.

Learn more about the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation (FRN) here or follow the story via Twitter or on Facebook and the Hashtag #Secretdeepsea