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Postcard from the ice

Feb 2010, Antarctica: Minke whales surface next to NZDF pers in Antarctica.
Minke whales surface near Defence Force staff in Antarctica (WN10-005-017)

by Squadron Leader Nick McMillan

I’m not sure who was more impressed, the group of excitable humans running back and forwards with cameras clicking, or the fifty or so Adelie penguins that had decided to visit Scott Base.  We've also been visited by Emperor penguins and had Minke whales surface only a metre away. 

It’s at times like these that you’re so wrapped up in the splendour of Antarctica that it’s easy  to forget the reason for being here: to support New Zealand’s scientific research in Antarctica. 

The New Zealand Defence Force has a proud history of being a part of the team - and all eight NZDF people (Senior National Officer, a Cargo Handler, 2 Plant operators and 4 Communications Operators) have taken full advantage of the unique surroundings since arriving here in October 2009. 

An eighteen-hour non-stop traverse across the sea ice in a Hagglund to set up a science camp; dropping supplies from a helicopter into the Dry Valleys; and standing at the bottom of the world at the South Pole  - all these things and more have happened to the team in the last five months and I don’t think that anyone will forget the time they decided to come to Scott Base. 

That includes the American Mount Terror Rugby Team based at McMurdo Station who fell 23-0 to the Scott Base Ice Blacks at the world’s most southerly rugby game.  As the Kiwi team is well stocked with NZDF personnel, the Ice Blacks remain undefeated since the first game many years ago. 

Ah well, McMurdo, there’s always next year ….


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