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Conserving our Antarctic heritage

Inside Shackleton

The Antarctic Heritage Trust is conserving 4 Antarctic explorers' huts, including those used by Scott and Shackleton on their expeditions to Antarctica. Conservators from the Trust are at work throughout the year on the frozen continent, living in one of the most hostile environments on Earth.

Find out what it's like to live in Antarctica and preserve the artefacts left behind by the great explorers in the conservators' blog. You can also view stunning images of Antarctic wildlife, including seals and penguins, and share your thoughts on this important heritage project in the forum.

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Open Water in Antarctic conservation

Posted by Conservators Apr 15, 2014

Author: Sue Bassett

Date: 09/04/2014

Temperature: -24 degrees C

Windspeed: None

Temperature with wind chill: -24 degrees C

Sunrise: 0905

Sunset: 1643


One of the highlights (so far) of this winter on the ice has been, without doubt, the opportunity to observe the effects of having open water in front of Scott Base. Usually a year-round frozen ice shelf, the open water has brought some spectacular sea mists and not just the usual populations of Weddell seals and Adelie penguins, but large numbers of killer whales and Emperor penguins (and even the occasional cruise ship!) … to literally right outside our windows. Beats television!

Morning sea mist.JPG

Morning sea mist


Cruise ship.JPG

A cruise ship takes advantage of the open water to take a closer look at Scott Base



Each day we have had the pleasure of watching a group of about 50 Emperors (all adolescent males, I'm told) huddle, fish, play, squawk, dive and scoot around (belly down) on the ice edge. And occasionally they'll take a long walk across the ice to what seems like nowhere in particular, usually in single file and in a very determined fashion, only to huddle for a while before returning again by foot or from beneath the ice through an open pool or crack. But, alas, as we head into our last fortnight of daylight before the austral winter darkness sets in, the sea now looks to have frozen over and, sadly for us (and perhaps also for them, as they may have been equally fascinated by the behaviours of Scott Base residents) the last of the Emperors have walked off … to somewhere else.

Emperors huddling.JPG



Emperors off for a walk.JPG

Off for a walk


More about the explorers' huts

In the early years of the last century, Antarctica was the last great goal for explorers, who raced each other to be the first to reach the South Pole. Their legacy remains to this day in the form of the pre-fabricated huts used as bases for their journeys, and the possessions they left behind in them.

Antarctica's harsh environment has preserved these huts so far, but they are now in urgent need of care. The conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust are currently working on the expedition base built by Captain Robert Falcon Scott for his 1911 expedition to the South Pole.

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Looking for blog posts from before August 2010?

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About the conservators

The Antarctic conservation blog is being written by Trust conservators Sue, Stefanie, Aline and Meg who are currently working and living in Antarctica. Previous entries were written by the summer and winter conservation teams from 2006 onwards, who have now left Scott Base.