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Happy New Year from the South Pole!!!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with decorations, trees, lots of food, presents and spending time with your families. Down here Rothera had the traditional turkey, crackers and singing carols. Bryony had a lovely time, but what about me? Well, I was away for Christmas on a very special trip.

Although Father Christmas lives at the North Pole, I got to go to the South Pole! Rothera is in Antarctica, but still a long way from the very bottom of the Earth. A scientist and a pilot from Rothera get the chance every year to visit the most famous spot in Antarctica to check on some scientific equipment BAS has there; and I asked if I could go along. As I am very light they could squeeze me onto the plane, along with a couple of other friends.

Here I am at the South Pole, can you see how excited I am? All the other people at Rothera, including Bryony, are very jealous of me.

Here I am at the South Pole, can you see how excited I am? All the other people at Rothera, including Bryony, are very jealous of me.

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The American’s run a station there, bigger than Rothera, called the Amundsen-Scott Station, after the two great explorers who lead the first parties to walk to the South Pole. As the South Pole has land under it we can build there. At the North Pole there is only ice, so it moves all the time. If you build a house on the North Pole one day, it wouldn’t be there the next!

It is amazing to think that 100 years ago men risked their lives to walk for months pulling sledges to get to this place, and now there are planes landing, showers and even an ice making machine here.

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Back at Rothera it is warming up and more and more of my distant relatives (penguins) are turning up. There are also a lot of seals. These are mostly Elephant seals, which are huge and smelly, but quite funny as they burp, roar and fart all day long, lulling around and scratching themselves. Sometimes they fight each other, but these are not the adult males, so they are only practicing. They are here to rest and moult. Although they look clumsy and lazy on land, in sea they are fantastic divers and have been recorded diving a mile and half under water! They can also hold their breath for over an hour and a half. Here I am with one of the Elephant seals.Jan4

We also have some Crab Eaters and Weddle seals, which are much prettier. Here I am with a Weddle.

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Rothera got busier last week as a ship came to visit. The James Clarke Ross, a BAS ship, which was bringing supplies for the station. As there are not many flights and aeroplane fuel is very expensive, almost all food, drink and equipment has to be brought here by ship. So we had a busy few days taking all the stuff off. Here is the ship:

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Bryony and I were very excited as a box and bag we had packed 6 months ago came on the ship. This had more clothes and things in it for the 16 months we are staying. But you won’t believe who we found when Bryony and I were unpacking: Sid (see his profile at the bottom of the profile page). He smuggled his way into the luggage even though he knew he shouldn’t come. I love Sid, but he is too naughty and always getting into trouble. I really hope he behaves here or I will be very embarrassed.

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That is all for now as I have another exciting trip coming up. Lots of love to you and your penguins, I would love to see any penguin Christmas photos on the website,

Love Pearl x

P.S. I have just had a very special message from a friend of Bryony’s in Africa. A sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees has sent us a photo. The baby chimps have lost their mothers, and it is even harder from them at the moment as there are health problems in the country, but they wanted to say “hi” and I will send them a photo of the penguins here.

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Flying and the weather in Antarctica

Hello, Pearl here again. I have now been in Antarctica for a month and it has continued to be a really amazing and exciting time.

Firstly, where do I sleep? This is my bedroom, which I share with Bryony and another human, Vicky. You can see me asleep in my bed on the table, Bryony has the top bunk bed and Vicky is on the bottom.

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Vicky is one of the pilots. She used to work with BAS (British Antarctic Survey) as a meteorologist (they study the climate) but found she loved flying in Antarctica so much she wanted to learn to do it herself. So she went back to the UK and after a few years of flight training she is now in her dream job.

She kept telling me how great flying here was, so I thought I should try it. I was very lucky to be asked to go up in one of the planes with another pilot, Andy. Here we are, in the air, Andy is posing (Bryony and Vicky agree that this is something pilots are very good at).

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It was a fantastic flight, I had a go at the controls and we went above the clouds and then down low to see the seals that had come out of the cracks in the sea ice. Here is the view as we flew up to Rothera’s runway:

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As a lot of the science studies being done here are a long way away, the aeroplanes are essential to get the scientists and their equipment around. There are four twin otters (the smallest planes, that I was on with Andy) and a Dash 7(the type I flew from Punta Arenas on). They can land with wheels or with skis.

The pilots and air mechanics are very busy in the Antarctic summer, getting the planes ready and flying the scientists all over the place. Sometimes they have to stay out for several nights camping. They also help the scientists digging up equipment and building things. Not something a pilot for British Airways would have to do!

They can only fly when the weather is good, as it can get very windy, snowy and dangerous down here. After a couple of weeks of lovely sun I woke up this morning to see this out of our window (you can compare it to the view in my last blog):

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In the UK I like to look at the weather forecast to see if I should put my scarf and hat on, but down here it is much more important that we know what the weather is going to be like. It is dangerous to be out in bad weather, and landing a plane on snow and ice is hard enough even when the weather is good.

So we have our very own weather forecaster, Don. Today I went to see him and he told me all about his forecasting. He is very important and can give very up to date weather all over the Antarctic Peninsula. He has to get up every day at 4am to get the weather reports for the flying, and if there is a plane coming in late he has to get up again (1.30am this morning!). Phew.

Here he is teaching me how to forecast:

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And here is a satellite photo of the Antarctic Peninsular Don put together with all the ice shelves and sea ice. This one is from October 30th, just before we arrived. Can you see the Peninsular (the sticky out bit of Antarctica)?  All around it is sea ice, which has now started to melt away as the summer progresses. You can see why ships can’t get to us until later in the year!

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After all that talk about the weather and snow I thought it was about time I went out and enjoyed it. New snow is perfect for making a snow-penguin.

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That is all for now, it is dinner time and I am sure the chefs have cooked us up something great again. I will need to let you know more about them, as well as the science, the divers, the weather ballons, the field assistants…ohhh there is so much going on I can’t wait to tell you about.

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Arrived at Rothera

Hello everyone, Pearl here. I have arrived in Antarctica!!

I flew down here a week ago, on a plane, as sadly my wings are only good for swimming. In fact it was 4 different aeroplanes, the last one was very small and a bit bumpy, but I was very brave.

Rothera is beautiful. It is still covered in snow, but some of this will melt soon. There is sea, mountains and sea ice which has trapped some small icebergs. This will melt soon too.

The mountains, sea and trapped icebergs at Rothera.

The mountains, sea and trapped icebergs at Rothera.

Looking at the view out of my bedroom window. The Dash plane, which I flew in on, is landing.

Looking at the view out of my bedroom window. The Dash plane, which I flew in on, is landing.

This first week has been settling in and learning lots of new things. I have found my way around the base, learnt what everyone does here and made lots of new friends.

Me with Sam the electrician. He is also holding Pow the Penguin, who was sent here by some children in Canada.

Me with Sam the electrician. He is also holding Pow the Penguin, who was sent here by some children in Canada.

At the moment there are a few flying birds around, but not much other wildlife, it will all be heading here soon as the summer progresses and the ice melts.

This month we were very lucky, the first Antarctic penguin I have met is Ellie the Emperor Penguin. Yes, the biggest penguin in the world, and most would say the most amazing. They are also the rarest type of penguin we can see here at Rothera; there hasn’t been one here for several years. They usually hang around in big colonies but Ellie is a bit lost. She spent a day wandering up and down the runway here, occasionally shouting out to try and find her friends. She saw me and asked for directions, I wish I could have helped her.

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For the next few weeks I will be finding my feet and doing lots of training on how to survive in Antarctica. I will try and write my blog about once a month with updates and information about Antarctica and everyone living out here. Bryony and I haven’t stopped smiling since we arrived. If you have any questions please ask your teacher to email Bryony.  Please follow Pearl on Twitter to get updates on when the site is updated!  @pearlthepenguin

Bryony grinning at the top of a hill with Rothera station in the background.

Bryony grinning at the top of a hill with Rothera station in the background.

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Training for Antarctica

Before going to live and work in Antarctica Pearl has had to get trained up. She spent 2 weeks with The British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge and the Peak District learning all about Antarctica, Rothera, what everyone does there and what to do in different emergencies.

She learnt some first aid; as with all the slippery ice accidents can happen. Here she is with a doctor. He is showing everyone else how to do CPR on a penguin who might have a spinal injury…

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Don’t worry – she was only acting.

Then she went camping and learnt how to do abseiling up and down, in case she fell down a cravass, or wanted to go exploring. Due to her lack of opposable thumbs she needed some help from Bryony …

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She then went for a holiday to Center Parcs with all her penguin brothers and sisters. She had to say a sad “goodbye” to lots of them as they went to there new homes. You can see all of them with their new families in “Penguin Profiles”.

You can see that Pugsy Jr Jr has already set off in “Other Penguin News”.

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Waiting to go

Welcome all my penguin pals and their friends,

Lots of people reading this is a penguin, or is looking after a penguin (you can always get a penguin and Bryony can put it in the Profiles). As you know, most of us penguins live, not in warm sunny Britain, but in down in the cold Antarctica. I was born in England, but have always dreamt of going down south to find my roots and to meet a few of my fellow penguins. Luckily I have found a human to take me down with her in November. We will be spending about 16 months at Rothera base, on the Antarctic peninsula (the pointy bit), living and working down there. Bryony will be working as a doctor and I hope to make myself useful, helping with everyone who is living there.

I want to share this experience with all of you, and so I will be posting blogs here with a few photos, telling you all about Antarctica, penguins and everything that is going on down there.

I would also love to hear about what you are all up to, and I can post some of your updates and photos on this website too.

So check out the “penguin profiles” to meet all the other penguins.

Until November, I will just have to wait, get excited and dream about Antarctica.

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