King Edward Point Diary – April 2003

30 April, 2003

Ice climbing and egg rolling

April started off a very busy month for everyone on base, with the month only just started. The entire base personnel were involved in a search and rescue (SAR) exercise, organized by our base commander Ian Parsons. This involved us all looking for two missing persons, which happened to be made up dummies called John and Jane Doe. The exercise went very well, with the two people being successfully found and rescued. Everyone enjoyed the chance to practice their first aid and radio skills.Following the hard work of the SAR exercise we celebrated Andy (our electricians) birthday, which involved Andy (Triple X) Godsell showing his wake boarding skills (left) at lunch time with good success for his first time.

To keep up with all this out door exercise we all got the chance to try out some real ice climbing on one of the local glaciers. This was kindly led by BAS GA Steve Hinde who stayed with us for some time. Splitting up into two daytrips, I got to go up with Frin (chief team fish) Suzi (assistant team fish) Richard (assistant team fish) Steve and Pat Lurcock (marine officer). It gave us all a chance to practice our rope and ice climbing skills, which we had been learning for the past few weeks. Everyone enjoyed the experience – a great day!

On the 8th the Ernest Shackleton arrived for the last call of the season. Everyone helped to load the last remaining cargo for transit to the Falklands and the UK. To celebrate their last call for the season and the beginning of our winter we all helped to organize a barbecue for the population of South Georgia, the ships crew and ex-BAS winterers on their way home. The barbecue was kindly looked after by our base commander Ian Parsons and our boatman resident DJ Howie Owen who provided all the music and equipment for the disco. Brilliant night had by every one, lots of stories exchanged and dance moves performed!

On the 14th of April the first Toothfish vessel the Argos Helena arrived. On board was our new fishery observer coordinator Rob Gaitor, who is staying with us for the impending fishing season to work with Pat Lurcock the South Georgia Marine Officer.

The science team have been busy this month with their fish research, including catching another tooth fish in Cumberland Bay East which has put up their total to five this year. The fish are thought to only live in deep, offshore waters so their capture in the bay at 200 m has been exciting because it means that a section of the population may be protected from fishing within the 12 mile no fishing zone which surrounds South Georgia. Further work is going on to try and establish whether Toothfish occur regularly in this bay and whether the fish coming here are of a particular age or sex.

Between fishing trips and office work, Team Fish have been working in the lab on their Icefish project which involves the ageing of the captured fish by looking at there otoliths (inner ear bones) to gather how old they are, a bit like counting rings on a tree trunk but in miniature format.

This ageing process is part of the overall research in to icefish to establish more information in whether they hang around at certain areas, come from different stocks and at what age they reach maturity.

With half the month gone we celebrated Easter weekend. Starting on Good Friday with a base picnic at Hope Point with Cornish pasties, scotch eggs, home made Good Friday picnic Eggs and a traditional cup of tea afterwards. To finish off the Easter weekend on Sunday the whole island population got involved in an egg rolling competition staged on the grassy slopes behind Grytviken whaling station, with everyone assigned specifically painted eggs. Everyone took their turn in trying to get their egg as far as they could without damage. Many different techniques were tried and tested with varying success with the star egg of the day thrown by our base doctor Sue Dowling.

The first Longliner brought some fishermen with medical problems, which gave the doctor some of her first cases for the fishing season. Some patients had to be brought ashore for dental treatment ashore. So with Sue in charge and with me as her assistant and help from one of the observers to translate they were all restored to good health with a varying degree of drilling and tooth cement.

Only thing left to say is a big hello to my family, friends and liskeard yfc back in Cornwall.

Ace John

(KEP Mech)