Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Latest News

The women who run Antarctica’s ‘penguin post office’

When this year’s all-woman team arrived on Antarctica’s Goudier Island to run the world’s most remote post office, it was shovels they needed rather than stamps.

They’d traveled some 8,000 miles from the UK, by plane and boat, and Britain’s Royal Navy were already on hand to help them dig out their new home at the Port Lockroy scientific base, which was buried up to four meters deep under several tonnes of December snow.

It wasn’t just the frozen wastes that first struck postmaster Clare Ballantyne, who at 23 years old was the baby of the four-woman group. It was that “there’s penguins everywhere.”

More than a thousand Gentoo penguins live on this tiny island on the western side of the Antarctic peninsula, around the size of a soccer field. Since 1944, when the UK’s first permanent Antarctic base was established here, it’s also become a haven for explorers, scientists and – in recent years – tourists.

As well as the post office, there’s a museum and gift shop. In the 2022/23 season, nearly 16,000 visitors from more than 200 ships passed through, making this one of the busiest places in the “frozen continent.”

Each year, a team is selected to run and maintain the site from November to March, or summertime in the southern hemisphere. Around 4,000 people applied for this, the first post-Covid season, but just four made the cut: Ballantyne, base leader Lucy Bruzzone, wildlife monitor Mairi Hilton and shop manager Natalie Corbett.

The job also involves counting penguins: The scientific data they gather on the Gentoos’ breeding patterns is part of a decades-long study of the colony.

‘Living on top of each other’

The chosen candidates beat out odds of one in a thousand – but this is not a cozy posting. For five months, they share a single bedroom. There’s no running water, no internet and very little leisure time: just one day off every two weeks.

“It’s a very intense experience,” says Vicky Inglis, field operations coordinator for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, “living on top of each other, nowhere you can escape.”

And then, of course, there’s the pungent pong of penguins. “At a certain point in the season, the snow goes and it’s not mud – it’s all guano,” says Inglis. Guano, in layman’s terms, is seabird poop – and there’s a lot of it.

Food is largely canned or dried, other than what comes off the cruise ships that visit. These expedition ships – typically small 200-passenger craft, rather than the behemoths you might see down in the Med – also offer the chance to have a luxurious hot shower.

In their snatches of leisure time, the 2023 team say on their blog, “We spend quite a bit of the day sleeping! Then we’ll go for a walk around the island, very slowly to absorb everything – the smaller things you wouldn’t usually notice in particular – limpets, moss, starfish and krill. We also take photos, read books and chat – much like the original men who lived on base.”

‘Cheeriness goes a long way’

When it comes to choosing candidates, “there is no recipe we can follow,” says Camilla Nichol,CEO of the trust. “It’s about your ability to work together as a team. Cheeriness goes a long way, being able to see the light in life and resolve problems quickly.”

What the posting lacks in creature comforts, it makes up for in sublime wonder. “Antarctica is like nowhere else on Earth,” says Nichol. “The scale of it is so vast, it’s so pristine, the air is so clear. Suddenly you feel very small as a member of the human race. There are forces, there is nature; the environment is so much more vast than we are.”

Going to a continent so little touched by humans made Nichol realize the human responsibility to look after it. “I came away very much with a sense of purpose.”

Recruitment recently closed for the 2023/24 season and the newest batch of recruits will set off at the end of this year. They’ll be continuing an important scientific legacy, says Nichol. “We’re representing and telling a story of a period of Antarctic history that is little told,” but “it speaks to everything we worry about today.

“It’s the birthplace of climate science in Antarctica. It’s the place where discoveries are made, which we can act on here.” The hole in the ozone layer was discovered in Antarctica in 1985 by a junior researcher for the British Antarctic Survey. It led to the Montreal Protocol and the banning of CFCs – proof that environmental disasters can be halted when nations work together.

The tourism boom

Nichol notes that there has been “a bit of a decline in recent years in the breeding success” of the Gentoo penguins, but says “the causal connection is the tricky bit.” While climate change is probably “the biggest driver,” they also need to carefully examine if there’s a “human element” as well.

Antarctica tourism has boomed significantly in the past couple of decades, but Nichol is quick to point out that the Antarctic plains are still a big area – larger than the UK. There aren’t legally enforced limits on tourism, she says, but it’s very strictly managed through the IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and also by the Antarctic Treaty permitting system.

There are legal codes for everything from the polar worthiness of the ships, to waste and water management to biosecurity. Says Nichol, “It’s a regulated industry, it is growing and we’re expecting a bumper year this year.”

This post appeared first on cnn.com

Enter Your Information Below To Receive Free Trading Ideas, Latest News And Articles.






    Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

    You May Also Like

    Investing

    Overview Flynn Gold Limited (ASX: FG1) is an Australian mineral exploration company with a portfolio of projects in Tasmania and Western Australia. Tasmania is...

    Investing

    Overview Rua Gold (CSE:RUA,OTC:NZAUF,WKN:A4010V) is a gold exploration company focused on two prolific, historic gold-producing regions in New Zealand: Hauraki Goldfield and Reefton Goldfield....

    Investing

    I experimented with various strategies that mainly involved long options, which would eventually depreciate and eat away at my capital.   How to start...

    Latest News

    A 23-year-old German-Israeli woman who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival by Hamas militants on October 7 has been declared dead, the Israeli...

    Disclaimer: gorgeousincome.com, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively “The Company”) do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.


    Copyright © 2024 gorgeousincome.com