Press release

The Biologische Anstalt Helgoland receives state-of-the-art research dive centre - Secretary of State Jost de Jager hands over grant notification of 850.000 Euros

[27. August 2009] 

Joint press release of the Ministry of Science, Economics and Transport of the German federal state Schleswig-Holstein and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association


Kiel/Bremerhaven/Helgoland. Fresh breeze for the dive centre of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Schleswig-Holstein’s Education and Science Secretary of State Jost de Jager handed today a grant notification of 850.000 Euros for the modernization and expansion of this research and training facility over to the directorate of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. These monies, 75 per cent from federal funds, come from the Economic Programme II. They are meant to modernize the dive centre of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland belonging to the Alfred Wegener Institute and thereby make it internationally competitive. “With it, we will in the future be able to train international research divers on Helgoland”, says Secretary of State Jager.

The federal state Schleswig-Holstein invests more than twelve million Euros from the Economic Programmes I and II in northern German research facilities. 850.000 Euros can be used to completely renovate the research dive centre. “We are happy to be able to expand our research facilities and further develop Helgoland as an important German marine research location”, explains Prof. Dr. Karen H. Wiltshire, director of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland. The modernization planned to take place from September 2009 until July 2010 will also benefit international science: “We will in the future be able to train next to our own also international research divers on Helgoland”, points out Philipp Fischer, head of the research dive centre.

De Jager made a reference to the long research dive tradition in Helgoland’s waters and to the acknowledgment of the research dive training by trade associations on Germany’s only high sea island almost 40 years ago. “Where can we learn the specific demands and skills of research diving, without which modern marine research is impossible, better than on Helgoland? The combination of excellent scientific knowledge and optimal external conditions makes the location even internationally competitive”, continues the Secretary of State. With more than 1.200 dives, diver-based research is even today a central methodology at the Alfred Wegener Institute. This number might continually increase with the expansion and modernization of the dive centre. “We expect that particularly national and international young researchers will increasingly come to Helgoland in order to learn research diving”, says de Jager.

The planned work incorporates next to the renovation of the buildings also the modernization of the technical equipment of the dive centre. For example, the use of mixed gases and so-called closed-circuit rebreathers could open up new research areas and application possibilities. The Alfred Wegener Institute will therefore further strengthen its leading role on the area of research diving.

Notes for Editors:

Your contact person at the Ministry of Science, Economics and Transport of the German federal state Schleswig-Holstein is Harald Haase (phone: +49 431 988-4420; email: Harald.Haase@wimi.landsh.de)

Your contact persons at the Alfred Wegener Institute are Dr Philipp Fischer (phone: +49 4725 819-3344, email: Philipp.Fischer@awi.de) and in the department Communication and Media Dr Ude Cieluch (phone: +49 471 4831-2008; email: Ude.Cieluch@awi.de).


The Alfred Wegener Institute carries out research in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as in the high and mid latitude oceans. The institute coordinates German polar research and provides international science with important infrastructure, e.g. the research icebreaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of 16 research centres within the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organization.

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The Institute

The Alfred Wegener Institute pursues research in the polar regions and the oceans of mid and high latitudes. As one of the 19 centres of the Helmholtz Association it coordinates polar research in Germany and provides ships like the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations for the international scientific community.