Archive for the ‘Antarctic Medicine’ Category

Photo gallery is online!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

The glassy becalmed sea Cargo aboard the foredeck of the SA Agulhas Ice forever

I’ve been wrestling for some time to get an uber-cool photo gallery to work on the blog, but have run into many snags. Not willing to give up, I now bring my own gallery online. Click the link to the right to go through to the gallery page. There’s lots there, including:

  • Plenty of as-yet-unseen images of the voyage down, including characters aboard the ship, Bouvet Island and the pack ice (pictures of penguins and seals to follow soon, by popular demand)
  • For the medics, some pictures of the hospital and theatre aboard the SA Agulhas
  • More mugshots of the team
  • More images from the base and surrounds

I’ll be adding content over the next few days, so pop in whenever you have a chance.

Professor Thomas Harms Albatross, glliding forever over the South Atlantic Dominic Wills

I’m embarrased…

Friday, February 8th, 2008

�not yet to have written something on our (very brief) visit to Troll. Troll is not a large, ugly beast hiding under a bridge, but rather the Norwegian research base to our east.  Although they are strictly speaking our neighbours, the Juttelstraumen Glacier lies between our bases.  35 nautical miles wide, it is the second largest glacier  in the world (the honour belonging to the Lambert Glacier at S70 E70) and thus a significant barrier.  We can only reach Troll by air, but I was fortunate enough to make the journey with some of our scientists who were retrieving data from a ground thermal logger, and collecting equipment.  I had the aim of examining the medical facility at the Norwegian base in comparison to our own, and in the light of my recent visit to Neumayer.  By the time we had loaded several other scientists and the flight crew, it was a group of 17 South Africans that swooped down from the sky. 

Juttelstraumen Glacier from the air The view from the living quarters at Troll The Norwegian Antarctic Research Station, Troll The author poses at Troll Station The hospital at Troll Station

I took great pleasure in meeting our Norwegian counterparts, as I’ve always had respect for their Antarctic exploits.  The ever-stoic Amundsen was Norwegian, beating Robert Scott to the South Pole through his adoption of traditional methods of ice travel.  The account of his successful expedition is inspiring reading; it tells a tale of a man dedicated and undistracted: “Adventure,” said he, “is simply poor planning.”  The Norwegian involvement in Antarctica did not stop with Amundsen, however.  Most of Queen Maud Land (or Dronning Maudland, if you wish to tip your hat) was explored and mapped by the Norwegian Antarctic Research Expeditions (NARE), which explains why so many of the landmarks in our area bear names in their language.  The South African expeditions are also historically tied to Norway, as the site of our first research base was that of a Norwegian establishment which was handed over in 1959.  Nowadays, the co-operation continues as we exchange knowledge, assist each other with logistical arrangements, and collaborate on scientific projects.


Cutting my teeth

Friday, January 25th, 2008

So there I am, rushing down the passage in the base to sort out the latest niggle, when one of the support crew stops me and asks for superglue.  “For what?” I enquire. “This broke,” sooth he, “when I stepped on it.”I examine the proffered dentures, wondering idly how they travelled from oral cavity to pedal plantar position.  They are badly broken, with all the front teeth separated from the plate, and a section of the moulding broken loose.  However, the metal retainer is still intact and appears unscathed.  I give him the summary:

“The bad news is that superglue won’t hold that for long,” says I, “but the good news is that I have a secret weapon… the Van Rensburg factor!  Give them to me for a day, and I’ll see what I can do”