Sunday, September 27, 2009

British Antarctic Survey


As I alluded to in a previous post, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) decided to visit us here at Alexandra Fjord. They dropped out of the sky in their all-red Twin Otter about 3:30 in the afternoon, while I was bringing some supplies up to the kitchen from the food-storage shed.

Upon landing, I told them they were at the wrong pole – this is the Arctic, not the Antarctic. They explained they’d turned left when they should have turned right, and ended up here. A representative of the (Canadian) federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs told me about an agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom that has recently been signed, providing for much more cooperation between the two countries in polar research. My understanding is this opens the door for more British researchers to come to Canada’s High Arctic, and for more scientific collaboration between scientists in the two countries. All good things, in my opinion.

Included among our visitors was the director of the BAS. When he introduced himself I expressed my disbelief at his job title – but he did convince me that he was, in fact, the director of the entire British Antarctic Survey and was visiting various field camps in Canada’s Arctic. He therefore represents the most highly-placed and important government official (from my point of view) I have yet encountered in my travels.

I couldn’t let an opportunity like this fly off ungrasped, so I asked the director and another BAS official “How do I get to Antarctica?”. The answer, taking into account my situation (biologist by training, starting a PhD in Saskatchewan) is basically to a) monitor the BAS website and b) contact a few people affiliated with the BAS. Something to get started on this fall, methinks.

The visitors from the BAS and Canadian government returning to their airplane.

A zoomed shot of the BAS Twin Otter – note the incongruous word “Antarctic” on the fuselage.

The pilots for this British tour fly a bit closer to the edge than I’ve seen the Ken Borek employees fly, and buzzed our camp both arriving and departing. I took videos during their departure.

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