STOP EVERYTHING! THE NEW WINTER CREW (aka ‘The Replacements') HAVE LANDED. It’s time to toss your pagers and head for the hills, boys!
Where has my year gone?! It feels like no time at all since we stepped off the great orange tub, fresh-faced, keen, and cold. I've seen and done some wondrous things since: I've watched a movie projected onto an iceberg under an aurora, and watched emperor chicks grow and Adèlie’s hatch. I've been for a swim in the sea in an Antarctic winter and I've climbed mountains. I've launched weather balloons in 70 knots of blizzard, and I've walked bare-foot and t-shirted with the sun blazing overhead. I've even learned how to grow veggies.
But, no longer. Things are truly gearing up for the finish now. My surplus stuff (unaccompanied personal effects) is in a container to be shipped home, and handover has begun. Even the weather is contributing to the sense of change: the sea ice, a seemingly permanent fixture that has been with us since April 2015, blew out during a blizzard the day before the new crew flew in to station. It was an amazing feeling to step over West Arm and see the open ocean again for the first time in nine months.
Even though I will miss the sturdiness and familiarity of the sea ice, it is easy to find the positives in this change. For one, on still days the ocean reflections make for beautiful photo opportunities, and two, the disappearing sea ice has brought the local critters back to station. Some of my strongest memories from the early days on station are of running into Adèlies and seals in unusual and obscure places around station — I had expected to see wildlife down here, but not walking up the street!
Handover is a busy time for us on station, and so far I have been unable to photograph the elusive new crew. I can, however, leave you with a few photos of penguins in odd places and some of the variable.