Sorting mail and counting penguins in Antarctica: meet the chosen team

Posted on 10 October 2022 By Tsoku Maela

As many as 6 000 people applied for the four jobs on Goudier Island in Port Lockroy, Antarctica. Four women, Clare Ballantyne, Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone, were selected to form a team to run the historic port.

READ: The search is on for a team to count penguins in Antarctica

Picture: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Port Lockroy, the post office that used to function as a museum closed its doors during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) announced the reopening of Port Lockroy, and four job openings: Base leader, postmaster, store manager, and wildlife monitor reported CBS News.

The team, picked by the UKAHT charity, will travel 9 000 miles from the UK to reopen the bay where they will live in almost entire daylight from November until March 2023. Antarctica has about six months of daylight during its summer months – October to February – and six months of darkness in its winter months, March to September. 

Port Lockroy. Picture: Flickr Commons/ Christopher Michel

The four candidates will live close to a colony of Gentoo penguins, whose census is required as part of the trust’s mission to observe and safeguard the birds.

Bruzzone, 40, from London, will be the base’s leader and previously she spent three months in Svalbard as chief scientist on an Arctic expedition. Ballantyne, 23, from Lincolnshire, has just completed a Master’s in Earth Science at Oxford University. She will deal by hand with approximately 80 000 cards, which are mailed each year from the site to more than 100 countries.

Corbett, 31 years old, is from Hampshire, where she runs a pet accessories business. She will be in charge of running the gift shop in the oldest permanent British base on the Antarctic peninsula.

Speaking to the BBC, Corbett, who is newly-wed, said she couldn’t resist the chance to spend time working on the island, adding that it was like a “solo honeymoon”.

‘Who wouldn’t want to spend five months working on an island filled with penguins in one of the most remote places on the planet?’ she said

The women will be joined for the first 10 weeks by 42-year-old Vicky Inglis, from Aberdeenshire, who was a UKAHT general assistant in the 2019/20 season.

According to the Trust, the women will start their training this month, undergoing remote first aid instruction. They will set off on their expedition in the first part of November and remain there until March 2023. 

ALSO READ: Cape Town’s iconic colourful huts in Muizenberg to be upgraded


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