About Me

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Bird Island, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
I work as a Zoological Field Assistant, and am the 2009 Winter Base Commander, at Bird Island Research Station, one of the British Antarctic Survey's five research bases in Antarctica. The main remit of my job is seal fieldwork as part of BAS' Long Term Monitoring and Survey programme. Science has been carried out on Bird Island since 1958. I work with Antarctic fur seals and leopard seals, as well as assisting with the seabird fieldwork programme. Contact me on: ewanedwards at gmail dot com

Sunday, 23 March 2008

23.03.2008 - Photos of Prince House

Fur seal pups on the back walkway

The 'wet' (animal handling) lab

The 'dry' lab

Fur seal pups outside the lab

The view north from the main door, showing the VSAT dome and Roche Peak

Dining and living room

View south from the dining table, over the beach with seals and penguins
Hot cross buns on Good Friday


The boot room, where we store and dry our outdoor gear

The main office

Dry food store

The freezer room, where we keep the beer and chocolate also

The main accommodation corridor

The medical cabinet

The main water holding tank

The new base on Bird Island, Prince House, was completed during 2005 and has been fully operational since then. Accomodating up to twelve people, although ten being the usual maximum, it is a well insulated new building with everything you would expect from a modern scientific station. The living quarters are spacious, warm and comfortable, and the workspaces are also built to an excellent standard, allowing us to carry out our jobs, helping deliver a programme of world-class science in this remote environment.

Our water supply comes mostly in the form of rain water, which is collected off the roof into a large holding tank, from where it is filtered to make it safe to drink. Electricity is provided from large diesel-powered generators that we shut down every night (operating essentials overnight on battery power) and start up first thing in the morning.

We have two labs, one for 'wet' work (animal handling etc.) and one for 'dry' (microscopes etc.). The office is large and warm and is a nice place to retire to after a day on the hill. Internet and telephone service comes over a VSAT satellite link with a company based in Aberdeen, and means that our phones here have UK numbers and are in effect merely extensions on the BAS internal phone system in Cambridge. This makes inter-base communication very cheap and easy indeed. The internet connection isn't fast, but is adequate for most things, and during quiet periods it is possible to listen to radio stations streamed over the internet.

Communication around base is with handheld marine VHF radios, and with a VHF repeater on top of one of the hills, we get good coverage over all the island. We also have Iridium satellite phones for emergencies.

Food is supplied twice a year, once at the start of the summer season (November) and once before we go into winter (April). There is a large range of very good food that is sent in, including many spices and herbs for making cooking more interesting, and a large selection of chocolate, essential for snacking whilst out doing fieldwork in cold weather! Of course, the quality of the meals we eat depends not only on the ingredients, but upon the various talents of the 'chef du jour'! The cook of the day makes the daily bread, and the variety of loaves produced ranges from huge wholemeal bloomers to skinny crunchy baguettes! On special occasions the chef will produce a culinary treat, for example mince pies at Christmas time, hot cross buns at Easter and birthday cakes!

The situation with alcohol relies upon trust that we will not abuse it. Other BAS bases have a 'two can rule' which states that base members have to stick to a limit of two cans of beer (or glasses of wine, etc. etc.) per night. We do not have this on Bird Island - but we are expected to limit our consumption to the point where we are never going to be a liability in an emergency situation. Having said that, Saturday nights tend to be our 'party night' and a nice time to let our hair down a little.

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