Q is for Question: a short love letter to the scientific method #antarcticalphabet

Query Island is a pimple in the ice at nearly 69° south, its existence a question till 1948. The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (predecessor to BAS) named it recognising the difficulty of distinguishing it from the mass of the Peninsula.   That’s science for you: honouring the question. The ‘scientific … Continue reading

#penguinrights and habitat corpus: #antarcticalphabet

    Let us sound the battle-cry for #penguinrights. Suppose penguins took us humans to court for destroying their habitat? Suppose they won?  I am not talking only of animal rights, or even land rights, but earth rights. Penguin power is habitat corpus: the battle to protect an ecosystem – … Continue reading

Fort Point: fit for Westeros

After Yankee Harbour we travelled the six miles to Fort Point on the south easterly side of Greenwich Island. It’s obviously named after its rocks, and it wouldn’t be out of place guarding a strategic river crossing in the Seven Kingdoms.  The rocks are piled up in basalt slabs from … Continue reading

Making places in Antarctica: history, science, and territories

I’ve commented before that so many human-made places in the far South are ugly buildings sitting in magnificent landscapes. We called at Esperanza station in Hope Bay, on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula: it’s a busy research base and a stamp of Argentina’s territorial claims, a scatter of red corrugated … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: H is for home

Home is where the heart is, where we hope and plan, even dream. Not-home, elsewhere, is transition, a coming or a going, a place whose future is not our business. Almost every building we’ve seen since Puerto Williams has been ugly, bases and settlements of corrugated metal, old machinery and … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: F is for fur

Fur sealers were first. Cook sent back reports of the millions of seals to be found in South Georgia and immediately they came. When Larson began industrial whaling he named his base Grytviken, Pot Cove, for the old cauldrons littering the beach, remnants of the seals melted for blubber. Mostly, … Continue reading

Southern light and free dogs: Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas reminds me of small towns in New Zealand. It has the neat rectangularity of Invercargill and the bright colours of Napier. The town shares the light with Bluff, on the south point of South Island. Even clouded and raining, the air is that particular southern oceanic grey, brighter … Continue reading

A is for: an #antarcticalphabet

Antarctica lies hidden behind the cold-current fringes of the Southern Ocean, ancient lands shrouded in white and blue. Sleeping Beauty, bramble-fenced, breathing in rhythm with the tick of the clock, awaits the destined prince. Cold, storied emblems of passivity and pride. Amundsen and Shackleton have come and gone though Scott remained, … Continue reading