Looking back on the year that was

2020 in review

All of us expeditioners are asked the usual questions about Antarctica i.e. what’s it like down there (sometimes up there)? How cold is it really? Do you see polar bears? Can you bring me a penguin home? etc. But I find the one commonly asked question is ” What do you actually do down there? What’s your job?" Well what can I say, we are modern day explorers, keepers of the south.

We are in an awesome part of the world experiencing mother nature at its best (and sometimes worse). Katabatic winds up to 100kts, blinding blizzards and freezing cold temperatures, to the warmer weather we have had the last few weeks averaging -2 to +2 degrees.

We have watched from afar the emperor penguins raising their young all winter, with multiple visits to the famous Auster Rookery. Completing census requirements at Taylor Rookery, one of the only few land based emperor rookeries (And ASPA - Antarctic Specially Protected Area) approximately 6 hrs drive across the sea ice west of station.

Coming into summer and continuous daylight,we have seen the return of the birds of flight, the majestic snow petrels, the predatory skuas, Antarctic petrels and giant petrels. The Weddells and their pups line the coastline east and west of station.

Of course it’s not complete without the Adélies. They are by far my favorite critter down here. Thousands have returned from winter in the Southern Ocean to the many islands the litter the coastline of Antarctica to breed. We often see them on station taking shortcuts and stealing our rocks for their nests. Normally, this time of year we have science teams come in for monitoring and counting of the Adélies and birds of flight, but that is our job this season. How awesome is that? Teams of expeditioners have been heading out to outlying rookeries, completing counts, scanning birds and utilizing photography skills for the teams back home.

We also get out to play in our backyard, exploring and hiking mountain ranges and frozen lakes. Nature’s art is also abundant out on the plateau and ranges, with natural ice sculptures and wind scowls at their best. And the views from the top of the mountains just utterly amazing.

Therefore, the answer to the question what do you do down in Antarctica, what is your job? I’m one of two station dieso’s (mechanics), myself and Guy. We actually worked for the same company back home, but at different branches, and didn’t meet until we teamed up here at Mawson. Small world we live in (but big). Apart from the already mentioned awesome activities above (hard life I know), we actually get to fix stuff, and do other mechanic thingies. I am pretty sure we have the best job in the world.

Stay safe world see you all in a few months……….maybe……………….

Shane (The real boss man) Mann – SMS/deiso, DSL, brewing assistant/taster, slushy extraordinaire, LSA, station pest apparently (not true, it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it)