We are in the middle of the Scotia sea 250 miles from Bird Island. Bird Island lies off the north-west tip of South Georgia in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It is separated by a 500m channel, Bird Sound, from the South Georgia mainland. It is approximately 1000km south east of the Falkland Islands and is accessible only by boat or ship supported helicopter.
The sea state at the moment is fine for this ship however, looking out at it it would be a nightmare sailing with a swell going in one direction and very few breaking waves moving across in a totally different direction.
In less than 24 hours we will be anchored off Bird Island hoping the swell isn’t too bad for landing with the landing craft. We will be doing relief there for a day. South Georgia was invaded by rats coming off ships which has decimated the wandering albatross population. Bird Island has so far been immune to this invasion. It is designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest so basically only scientists are allowed on the island. However, each piece of cargo that comes off the Shack has to be meticulously checked in the case of a rat stowing away before it is taken over to the island.
Check out BAS website for more on the station.
There are typically 4 personnel on station throughout winter, comprising of 3 zoological assistants and 1 person as technical support (e.g. an electrician, plumber or builder). The assistants currently complete 2.5 years on station (without leaving the island!) and specialise working with either seals, penguins or albatross. The technician typically spends around 5 to 8 months of the winter period on station.