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Applications open to work in Antarctica’s ‘penguin post office’

Applicants are warned: “We have no running water on the island, so washing facilities are very basic. Water is collected in jerry cans from visiting ships”

Jabed Ahmed
Friday 15 March 2024 15:53 GMT
(AFP via Getty Images)

Applications have opened to work at Antarctica’s famous “penguin post office”, but successful applicants will need to put up with the smell of penguin poo.

The shop in Port Lockroy is the southernmost post office in the world, and three positions are available exclusively for UK residents.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust, which runs the shop on Goudier Island, is looking for six individuals to work at the site starting in November and ending in March 2025.

The historic site receives around 18,000 visitors every year and successful applicants will need to welcome them to the island, as well as processing up to 80,000 letters and postcards.

They will also have to keep count of Port Lockroy's colony of 1,500 gentoo penguins.

The available positions are general assistant, shop manager and base leader, with salaries ranging from £1,375 to £1,985 per month.

Applicants must be prepared to share a room with five other people, go for extended periods of time without phone or internet and up to two weeks without showering.

Gentoo penguins in Antarctica (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The application form warns people about hygiene: “We have no running water on the island, so washing facilities are very basic. Water is collected in jerry cans from visiting ships.

“There are no shower facilities at Port Lockroy, so staff are expected to be comfortable living with these limited washing facilities, yet still keeping hygiene levels high.

“Visiting ships will offer showers approximately once per week, but when weather conditions are poor you could go up to two weeks without visitors or a shower.”

The staff accommodation is described in the application as “basic but comfortable”, with the aim for staff to live as sustainably as possible.

Food is usually shipped from the UK and “consists of a wide variety of dried and tinned foods, occasionally supplemented by fresh food donated from visiting ships.”

Temperatures vary from -5C to 5C, with most just degrees above zero. The weather conditions are most comparable to the Scottish Highlands in winter.

The application warns prospective applicants must be psychically and medically fit. Some physical work includes carrying 20 litre jerry cans of water, lifting and carrying 15kg boxes and shovelling a lot of snow.

Applications close on 18 March for the season beginning in November.

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