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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Visiting the Palmer Research station on Anvers Island, Antarctica

During a trip to Antarctica you may get the opportunity to visit a research station or one of the operational bases manned by the various scientific organisations of the countries who claim territory on the continent. As Antarctica is such a diverse and extreme part of the world, it is the perfect place for studies and research, and of course with the huge amount of wildlife a great place to study them in their natural habitat. Several countries such as Britain and the USA have seasonal bases that scientists will live in and work from during the summer months. I was lucky enough to visit the Palmer Station which is an American research base on Anvers island during my time in Antarctica.

The Palmer station can be seen jutting out on the right hand side Our Zodiac landed near the red containers to the right The rocky landscape of Anvers Island can be seen in the background A baby Weddell seal was lounging in the entrance of one of the cabins One of the larger research buildings at the station

The US Palmer Station is the only United States Research base located south of the Antarctica Circle; it is manned mainly in the summer reasons however there is a small number of staff present all year round. The base is on the southwest coast of Anvers Island in the Antarctic Peninsula and consists of several buildings and generator housings. Anvers Island is one of the larger islands in the Antarctic Peninsula and is close to some other fantastic places I visited including Port Lockroy and Neko Harbour; it was also one of the furthest southerly destinations we reached.

  • Palmer Station Wikipedia: Link
  • Palmer Station Blog: Link

We travelled to the Palmer Station via the MS Expeditions Zodiac boats and landed on a small make-shift rocky jetty. The station is in a bay so the surrounding sea had quite a lot of ice. We had a tour around the main building and our guide (who was a fairly new arrival on the base) explained about the history of the place, and also some of its systems; for example how they produced fresh water and heating etc. It was fascinating to learn about the base and how it operated and how the staff kept it operational.

A tiny Zodiac boat dwarfed by the huge ice cliffs Huge ice cliffs of Anvers Island The US flag flies proud at the Palmer Station A baby Weddell seal lies in the doorway of a building Various buildings and containers of the Palmer Station Signpost stating distances to various destinations

We were also shown some of the research the biologists and scientists were undertaking and got to see someone studying Krill – It was bizarre to see the tiny little creatures up close. Finally we were given a tour of the main recreational building and were treated to hot chocolate and brownies and got to talk to the staff – You could tell they were all excited to have visitors and they were really enthusiastic. One other added bonus was the fact that I got to stamp my passport with a Palmer Station stamp – Yes it's not official, but how many people can say they have their passport stamped from Antarctica?

I really enjoyed visiting the Palmer Station – We got some insight into what it's like to work at an Antarctic research base, and also about the important work that is being done on the continent. If you get the chance to visit a station on your trip then don't pass up the opportunity!

Zodiac boat trip

After our departure from the Palmer research station we were treated to a Zodiac tour around the ice flows and small islands next to Anvers island – it was a fun trip and we got to see some amazing things. The ice had broken away from the shoreline and formed a bay that was covered with broken pieces of ice and mini Icebergs; even the sturdy Zodiac boats struggled to push their way through at points and it was fascinating to hear the creaking and crunching of the ice as we smashed through it.

Immense ice-cliffs of Anvers Island

After an exciting ride through the ice flow we circled some huge icebergs that were beautiful shades of blue, and sailed past the immense walls of ice that formed the bulk of Anvers Island – You really have to see these monolithic slabs to believe how tall they were, our boat was just dwarfed and you can see some of the scale in the photos below. Finally we rode past a school of Elephant Seals who were lounging on the rocks – These creatures are huge and you can see how powerful they could be.

Icebergs floating in the sea ice around Anvers Island Icebergs and immense ice shelves in a bay next to Anvers Island Transnmitter masts in the distance collect research data Closeup shot of our Zodiac boat Fellow travellers on the Zodiac boats taking some snaps
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