The Penguin Post Office

Gentoo penguins at Port Lockroy among the remains of a small boat.

Gentoo penguins among the remains of a small boat at Port Lockroy.

When we arrived at Port Lockroy, the filming of “Penguin Post Office” for the BBC was underway. It has now been released. Check it out; go to this PBS Video link, which should be valid until February 28, 2015 (at 37:18 you can see “little” Pelagic in the center, with Pelagic Australis on the left). Our expedition was on Pelagic Australis, but not at that time. That shot was filmed around Christmas 2013; we were there in mid-February 2014.

To fully experience what it is like to be among the penguins, watch the show with a rotten fish on one side of you and a pile of seagull poop on the other.

Andrew, the cameraman, did an incredible job, but apparently hated almost every minute he was down there. Ruthie, the producer, is the world’s foremost authority on Gentoo Penguins and seems to have no other life than Gentoos. But I have a deep respect for some one like Ruthie who is so passionate about her field.

On our trip, Pelagic Australis stopped at Port Lockroy to give us tourists a chance to see the gift shop and for our crew to re-provision Pelagic with hundreds of pounds of food, 1,000 litres of diesel fuel, and to deliver Bertie to her ship. Pelagic was the winter base for Andrew and Ruth, with David as Captain and Bertie as Mate.

Port Lockroy—kitchen in the station.

Port Lockroy—kitchen in the station.

The buildings are kept as they were when the British science teams left; the gift shop was a later addition. I made a guess that the shop did about a quarter of a million dollars in business in the four months it’s open, but Magnus told me I was way off. It does just under one million US dollars! In postcards, stamps and tee shirts. WOW!

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One thought on “The Penguin Post Office

  1. Hi John.

    What an amazing read! I have been meaning to get in contact since I got your note you left at The Tidemark this summer, thank you for stopping in! It meant a great deal to know you’d taken the time to come look, I’m sorry I missed you though.

    I’ll be working on getting my hands on some bait and seagull poop so I can watch the documentary in full effect, it shouldn’t be hard. All my best,

    Racheal

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