Rothera, under and over

Geoff Evatt | 15 Jan 2020

Good morning from a rainy (yep) Rothera. Romain, Wouter and I have been here since Friday, occupying our time as best we can before we head home. To keep myself busy I’ve been out helping on the boats, which has involved holding on to the leashes of the BAS divers (doing wildlife survey work on the sea bed in the general vicinity of Rothera), should they need ever to be hauled back to the surface. Clearly this need is very unlikely, which affords the opportunity to do some wildlife spotting and take pictures of the glorious scenes. The highlight of which were a pair of feeding Minke whales circling around us, and at one point came within 10 m of the boat. Alas my lack of photographic skills (and general excitement) got the better of me, but at least the picture below captures the jist of things.

Fishing
Fishing for divers [Credit: G. Evatt]

In addition, I undertook the herculean task of waking up before 730am, to help launch a weather balloon. Balloons are launched all around Antarctica at the same time, with the aim of collecting comparable atmospheric data from similar elevations. I am pleased to announce that I currently sit in second place of highest elevations reached (28,939 ft), behind only the Radio 4 team…

Balloon
Weather balloon launch [Credit: G. Evatt]

And other than these we have been packing our bags and running around the airstrip (in so doing I have had the additional joy of seeing two humpback whales and a pair of chinstrap penguins) to burn off the vast quantities of food we’ve consumed.

It will be very strange to leave Antarctica after all this time, and after all the fantastic support we have received from the British Antarctic Survey. It is hard to understate just how complex the project’s logistics have been, and BAS have led the way brilliantly in ensuring we achieved as many of our aims as humanly possible. So thank you everyone for your help and support, it is very much appreciated and has been a privilege experiencing it first-hand. Next stop… the Falkland Islands!

Minke
Minke whale [Credit: G. Evatt]
Crabeaters
Crabeater seals [Credit: G. Evatt]
Adele
Adélie penguins [Credit: G. Evatt]
Shag
Antarctic shag [Credit: G. Evatt]

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