Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Departure to Antarctica

Finally, after one week waiting we got the news that we will leave Cape Town direction Novo Air Base on Wednesday night. We should depart around 23:00 local time and land 5h45 later at the Russian Air Base. In fact, from last Friday late afternoon to Tuesday morning, the weather at Novo was not favourable to fly, it was stormy with precipitation. And before the aircraft can fly to Novo and land there, the staff of Novo has to free the 3km runway from the precipitated snow, clean and prepare it. This is an immense work and takes its time. We are all happy here to know that and when we finally will depart and that we will soon be able to start our planned programmes around Princess Elisabeth station.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Cape Town

I arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday 22:30 local time (GMT+2). With me there are Nadine from ULB and Christophe from UGent for our CHASE project; Frank and Jean-Louis of ULB, Stef of TU Delft, TJ of Taiwan and Emmanuel and Etienne from Canada, all six for the Mass2Ant project; Henri our bird expert (Natural Sciences Institute/museum); Jacques the station’s doctor and Daniel (field guide) from Switzerland; and finally Baptiste, Olivier (BE) and Jacques (CAN) completing the station’s staff. 

Unfortunately, our flight to Antarctica is delayed. Mainly due to bad weather in Antarctica, also the planned flights before us encountered delay and this delay has to be recovered to bring in all the waiting teams of the different research stations. The unfavourable weather will persist at least until Tuesday. So, we will fly only by Wednesday to Antarctica. Hopefully. Almost one week of delay will put pressure on our and the station’s staff time schedule at Princess Elisabeth station. 

view southwards from Cape of Good Hope
Meantime, we are preparing what could nevertheless be done from here – collecting the polar clothing from IPF and checking that we do not forget any small item for the equipment and project. But of course we are also enjoying Cape Town, its pleasant weather and the surroundings. Yesterday, on Friday, we hired a car and drove to the Cape of Good Hope (the most south-westerly point of Africa). On the way there, we stopped at Boulders Beach were a colony of around 2000 African Penguins (Sphenicus demersus) lives. It is the only species breeding in Africa and it is listed as an endangered species. 

 Scientists at Cape of Good Hope
 African Penguins