June 2, 2020 - The watch leader

Arne Pallentin is fascinated by the seafloor and how little we still know about it.

Arne Pallentin, Watch leader, MBES, data management

Where are you from?

Born, raised, and educated in Germany, but New Zealand has been my home for the last 21 years.

What is your role onboard?

I look after the ship's multibeam echosounders and make maps used for the Deep Towed Imaging System (DTIS) operations. I am also watch leader on the night shift. I work in collaboration with our voyage leader Owen Anderson, the bridge officers, ship's crew, and science team to organise the science operations.

How long have you been at NIWA?

16 years

What happens to all the data collected – what is it used for?

The main data we collect on this voyage is DTIS video and still images. They get pre-screened here during acquisition, and in detail later when we are back on land. The information is then used to verify and improve regional habitat models. 

Arne Pallentin, watch leader.

What is the most important thing you brought with you on this voyage (work-related or not)?

For myself: Spill-proof and insulated teacup, books and music. For work: project data (GIS, forms, logs).

What are your challenges when working on the ocean?

We work 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, on a moving platform, so it is always very tiring to be at sea. 

Something you look forward to when you go on a voyage...

I really like passing Barrett Reef Buoy on the way out of Wellington, and again on the way in. I love going to sea, but it means being away from home, so it is always good to get home. Ironically, once I do get home, I then miss being at sea!

Tell us something about your job that could inspire youth to pursue a career in your field…

My job includes mapping seafloor with multibeam echosounders. They produce a very detailed "pictures" of how the seafloor looks, a lot more detailed than any navigational chart will show. Seeing details of the deep ocean showing up on your screen while the ship drives kilometres above them is fascinating. And very often we are the first to "see" this bit of seafloor, so we are like explorers. I think I still will be fascinated by this on the day I retire.

Arne Pallentin and Yoann Ladroit, both of NIWA, planning the next multibeam lines to take.