To mark World Antarctica Day in December, which celebrates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, Year 9 students from Harrogate Grammar School were given the opportunity to experience a live question and answer session with Peter Convey – an eminent terrestrial ecologist who works with the British Antarctic Survey Team, specialising in biodiversity, ecosystems and evolution. With over 25 years of experience in the field, Peter was able to give the students a real insight into life in the Antarctic, and what being a terrestrial ecologist entails.
One student asked “How long did you have to train to get where you are today?” The students were surprised to hear that Peter had spent 8 years in education before getting his first position. He also mentioned that in his role the learning never stops, as new information comes to light on a regular basis.
Another student asked Peter about the technology available to them in the Antarctic and Peter remarked that they use a wide variety of scientific equipment in their lab, one example would be to take DNA samples from the native flora and fauna. The students were astonished to hear, however, that the team did not have access to their own social media!
Despite this, it is not all about work so when Matthew Wharldall asked about their spare time, Peter happily revealed that he and his fellow surveyors enjoy mountain climbing and skiing as well as watching films and taking part in quizzes. They even have their own band.
Afterwards, student Jacob Garret said, “It was an honour to talk to someone who lives in Antarctica for 18 months at a time so on behalf of Harrogate Grammar School I would like to thank Peter and all the people involved in providing us with this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The British Antarctic Survey Team have Antarctic stations on Bird Island, The Brunt Ice Shelf, Rothera, King Edward Point and Signy Island. To learn more about what they do visit bas.ac.uk