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, 26 February 2016

A day out

On Saturday the RRS Ernest Shackleton came to visit.  She was on her way down to Halley, and stopped off to help out with a few bits and pieces on the way.  One of my tasks this year was to visit Moe Island and Lynch Island.  These are two small islands, just off Signy, that are ASPA sites (Antarctic Specially Protected Areas).  They are designated for the pristine nature of their flora and fauna.  One is particularly noted for the abundance of grass!

Visiting the islands is normally not allowed, but every few years the condition of the islands has to be assessed and we were issued a special permit to land.  Their condition largely does not change, but the steady increase in the number of Antarctic fur seals around Signy is considered a threat to the vegetation as they spend a lot of time hauled out on land, and can cause a lot of damage.  To visit the islands we needed boats, so we boarded the Shackleton, then used their small inflatable boats to reach them.  It was great to visit some new islands- here is Signy, looking across from Moe Island.

We had a fantastic day out boating over to each island, landing, completing the survey and then boating back to the ship.  Whilst on board we circumnavigated the whole of Signy, caught up with familiar faces and had a couple of nice meals.  Most notable was the presence of things such as cucumber, tomatoes and grapes- none of which I have seen since November!  

For me, the highlight of the day however was the boat trips to get us to there.  The icebergs around Signy are incredible, and from a small boat, the icy pinnacles seem to stretch right up into the sky, in shining shades of silver, blue and grey.  Here are just a selection of the best, but they sadly still do not do justice to what it was really like.

Note the small boat for scale in these two...

I find icebergs utterly mesmerising.  To be able boat around these beautiful towering giants made this day one of the definate highlights of the season.     



Roger Coggan said...

Hi Stacey. I found your blog today whilst searching for images of Foca Hut. Very interesting to read what you have been doing and see some recent pictures of the old place. I was with BAS from 1984-93 as a marine/fish biologist & diver. Did my main work at South G, Signy (1988-90) and finished with the dive-survey at Rothera (before Signy closed as a wintering base).
Thanks for the interesting posts. So many questions . . . . Do the prions & petrels still nest in the bluff behind the base?
Best wishes. Roger Coggan

Stacey said...

Hi Roger, Only just found this whilst deleting junk comments from my blog! Sorry! Lovely to hear from you. I suspect many things at Signy have changed, yet some things will be almost identical. The prions and snow/cape petrels on the bluffs behind the station are probably still almost identical to when you left. I love the sound of them at night time.