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.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ship visits

On Thursday 15th January the RRS Ernest Shackleton came to visit.  We awoke to find her parked just outside, in the bay.  The Shackleton is one of the BAS ships, and had come to take away our two visiting scientist, Gareth and Jen who have been with us since the start of the season.  The ship had a successful day here taking away a lot of our waste, and delivering various bits and pieces to our field huts around the island.  They also brought us some welcome new fruit and veg which although having spent a month on the ship was in much better condition than that which we already had.  We had hoped to go onboard for dinner at the end of the day (its not very often that you can have a night out somewhere down here!) but large chunks of ice were rapidly filling the bay by evening and the Captain was worried we might all get stuck onboard, so we didn't get to go in the end.

The Shackleton parked in the bay (the view out of the kitchen window).  The big tank in the foreground is an old whaling boiler from when Signy used to have a whaling station.

With the ship gone, we are now down to only 5 people on station.  This seems rather quiet, and the base has taken on a kind of family atmosphere which is nice.  On the negative side, smaller numbers means cooking duties come round much more often, but on the plus side, Matt and Hector have taken advantage of the quiet period to completely strip out the bathroom and renovate it.  It will look very smart when it is finished, but is a little inconvenient whilst in progress.  Later in the week the Protector is due to arrive (due to being a British Navy patrol vessel, and therefore rather secretive, they won't tell us exactly when they are coming!).  It is dropping off three new scientists who will bring our numbers back up to 8 on station.  This will complete the Signy team for the rest of the season- we will all be leaving together when we close the base for the winter in April.

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