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An Antarctic Doctor

Hello again, Did you all have a great summer holiday? Did you and your penguins get up to anything nice? I sometimes wish I could be back in England for the warm summer, even though I am a penguin.

After mid-winter and the darkest day of the year the sun has slowly been returning here and we now have 12 hours of daylight every day. I suppose you could call it spring, but it is still a very cold spring, most days are -15 C, sometimes below – 20 C. Bryony went camping again last week and everything froze – the water, the food, even her breath as she slept.

We have had a lot more wind and snow than before, sometimes the wind is strong enough to nearly knock us off our feet (or flippers). Bryony has been doing a few different jobs these last few weeks, so I have followed her around to see what an Antarctic doctor does over winter.

As there are only 19 people here she doesn’t have a lot of medicine to do. However everyone is doing lots of hard work and so there are sometimes injuries for her to deal with. One thing we don’t have here over winter is coughs, colds and ‘flu. Although it is very cold here these are viruses and if no-one has them on the station then they can’t spread around.

The doctor is also the dentist and in winter she checks everyone’s teeth to make sure they have been looking after them. Here I am getting my mid-winter dental check:

Doctor and dentistDoctor and dentist

The doctor has a few jobs around the station, one of them is dealing with all the rubbish. Most of it is separated for recycling, it has to be packaged up and sent back to the UK. This is me in the building where all the rubbish is sorted:

The Span - rubbish recycling Me in The Span, the rubbish recycling building

The food waste will go very smelly if it is sent on a ship, so we have to burn that. It is stored in a fridge or freezer until there is enough of it and then Bryony burns it in the incinerator. It might seem odd that it needs to be stored in a fridge when it is so cold outside. In fact the temperature out of the fridge, and sometimes the freezer, is colder than in it. Bryony has to mark up the waste with spray paints and she keeps them in the fridge to keep them warm!

The incinerator is a giant oven that gets really hot. It is hard work for a day, and very smelly, but good fun piling up wood and burning everything. Here is Sid throwing in some waste with Bryony:

Sid incinerates Sid and Bryony burning food waste

All the people on the station have to do a couple of weeks of night duty. Someone needs to be awake all night to keep an eye on the station. They have to check on all the buildings, look for alarms, and wake up people to fix things. Bryony did a week of nights recently and Sid and I kept her company. It was a really windy and snowy week and she had to put on a lot of clothes to protect her when she did her station rounds. She also had to dig a lot of snow to get into the buildings. Here we are in the night checking on the buildings:

out on rounds in the wind Bryony and me on night duty rounds

When the rounds are done and everyone else is in bed it is a nice quiet time. You can do work, watch TV or learn a new skill. Sid wanted to practice his pool:

Sid playing pool Sid playing pool

My next update will probably be when the winter is over and everyone starts to come back to the station for summer. It will be very different then.

I hope you are all enjoying the blog, I would love some photos of what you and your penguins are up to.

One final photo from me. Remember when I learnt about the ozone layer hole with Rosie? She said there was a special type of cloud we get that is very pretty but means ozone is being destroyed? Well we saw one a few weeks ago:

Polar stratospheric cloudPolar stratospheric cloud

Lots of love,

Pearl xxx

PS. Congratulations to Mrs Pointon and PC Pointon (teacher and blog help) who have had their first baby, Freddie x