Blog: First experiences at Rothera
5 February, 2021
Nadia Frontier is the new marine biologist at Rothera Research Station. In her blog below, Nadia takes us through arriving at Rothera, first impressions of the station, and Christmas celebrations!
I have been at Rothera for just over a month now and I certainly feel as if this is my home. It is quite wonderful just how quickly a new place and lifestyle can become your new world!
I’ll start from my arrival. I vividly remember our final day on the RRS James Clark Ross (JCR) as Rothera Research Station came into sight. The current wintering team had positioned themselves around our landing point and were waving us in. I felt a mixture of emotions; sorrow as an epic journey and life at sea was coming to an end but overwhelmingly excited to take my first steps on Antarctic ‘soil’ (anything below 66.33° S is officially considered to be true Antarctica).
Finally, we were arriving at our home for the next 15 months!
Ryan, the Marine Assistant, and I leapt off the ship and excitedly bounded up the path to the main building: New Bransfield House. On the way, we passed the Bonner Laboratory – where our work will largely be based – and we had a quick peak into the aquarium. I got my first glance of Antarctic sea cucumbers, huge anemones and cushion stars. The species which I had read so much about were coming to life (more on this in subsequent blogs). After consuming a cinnamon swirl and our first cup of tea (I felt as if I had just walked into a luxury café!), we were given a comprehensive tour of all the buildings by the station’s doctor.
Our first few days were filled with festivities starting with a quiz on Christmas Eve. Experiencing the effects of 24 hours of daylight in the early hours of the morning on Christmas Eve seemed bizarre- I did not want to go to bed! The next morning, we re-grouped with the original JCR team and exchanged secret Santa presents on the ship (the JCR remained docked on the wharf for five days during cargo relief operations). In the weeks leading up to our arrival, we had been busy attempting to make the most creative gifts whilst onboard the ship. Although resources were limited, I was astonished to see presents ranging from plaster cast orca sculptures, to photo frames and doormats woven with climbing rope, to impressive wood sculptures. My favourite was a present from the Captain, he had collated old texts from past Antarctic voyages, tea stained the paper and bound it together with a wooden cover- it was quite the gift!
Back on station, we passed bowls around the tables containing every single Christmas condiment including a wonderful hand made nut roast. I had heard that the food was good but I certainly did not expect it to be this good! Following our meal, digestion was facilitated by a friendly game of football- JCR crew against BAS staff. I played in the JCR team and we won 5-3!
I’ll be blogging throughout my time at Rothera at https://nadiafrontier.blogspot.com/
Learn more about Rothera Research Station at https://www.bas.ac.uk/polar-operations/sites-and-facilities/facility/rothera/