Since 2011, I have been spending November to April each year working for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica. I work as a Zoological Field Assistant on the penguin and seal long-term monitoring programme. Before this, I spent 2.5 years on the sub-Antarctic island of Bird Island, South Georgia, in the South Atlantic.

This blog gives readers an insight into my day-to-day life in the Antarctic, from my first trip south in 2008 to the present day.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Photos from the journey

Evening light over the South Shetland Islands.

The "real" Antarctic at its best.

Adelie penguin (one of my study species this year).

Down the Crevasse at Rothera.

The JCR leaves clear tracks behind it through the ice-covered ocean as it continues on its way.

The journey south

Ok, here begins Stacey in Antarctica Part 2.

My journey began on the morning of 6th December, when Mum, Dad and Derren waved me off on the minibus, that came to pick us up from the BAS headquarters in Cambridge to take us to the airport (myself and about 8 others who were going to different bases around the Antarctic). Later that day, we flew to Madrid, where we waited for a connecting flight for a few hours, then continued onwards, across the Atlantic to Santiago. After another brief stop there, we flew South, to Punta Arenas. We were put up for the night in a very nice hotel there. The following day, the adventures really began. We went back to Punta airport, where we boarded the Dash7- the British Antarctic Survey aeroplane. This is quite an exciting plane- used for carrying people and cargo backwards and forwards between Punta and the Bas research station at Rothera, about half way down the Antarctic Peninsula. The plane is very small, with seats at the back, a kettle for cups of tea, and a big open space for cargo at the front. It took us 5 hours to fly south, and we arrived at Rothera on the afternoon of 8th December.

When we arrived, the JCR, the ship that was going to take us onwards, had just arrived and moored at Rothera station. It was the first ship call of the season so was bringing all the supplies and kit needed by the station for the coming summer. This required 3 days of organising, which meant we got a 3 day holiday there. Rothera is below the Antarctic circle so was having 24 hour daylight at all times. The sun remained high in the sky both day and night. Whilst there, the base members took us out riding on the skidoos, and exploring down a big blue crevasse, which was like a huge blue cave. The colours and icicles were lovely. We were also able to walk out around “the point” and have our first encounters with Adelie penguins and Weddell Seals.

When the work at Rothera was complete, the JCR set sail, heading northwards along the peninsula. This day was sunny, and the mountains, ice, clouds, blue sky and flat calm seas produced probably the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen; vast areas of white wilderness, dotted only with the small black shapes of seals and penguins, hauled out on the ice floes.

In the next few days we continued North, along the peninsula, stopping at various places along the way. First stop was the Ukrainian base at Vernadsky where we had to drop off some scientific kit, then Port Lockroy, Deception Island and Jubany. We also passed the South Shetland Islands and finally arrived at the South Orkneys. I wonder how many other people have seen both the North and South Orkney and Shetland Islands, all since April! J The journey was lovely, sometimes ploughing through thick slushy ice, and at times open water. We eventually arrived at Signy on the morning of 18th December. I’ll write that bit in another entry, so you can see some pictures of the journey first (if I can get the internet to upload them).