One of the four women who traveled to Antarctica to help with conservation said there was no specific intention for the power quartet to be an all-female team.
Mairi Hilton told Lorraine Kelly that teamwork was essential for the recruiters when they put them all together.
She is part of the group set to take over the running of Port Lockroy – based on the tiny 1.7 hectare Goudier Island near the South Pole.
Mairi said that while 6,000 people expressed interest in the job and about 4,000 applied, “they kind of chose us not based on one person, but how they think we would do as a team”.
Mairi Hilton told Lorraine Kelly that teamwork was essential for the recruiters when they put them all together
She is one of a five-strong team of women set to take over the running of Port Lockroy (pictured) – based on the tiny 1.7 hectare Goudier Island near the South Pole
She added: ‘It is four women. All the other women are amazing, we all get on really well.’
The conservation biologist, who is on her way to Port Lockroy, is currently in New Zealand, and told the morning talk show how excited she was to spend time with the ‘charismatic’ penguins.
Mairi confirmed she will spend ‘hours’ with the creatures, be responsible for wildlife monitoring and will also be part of the team running the post office, gift shop and museum.
When asked why she wanted to be part of the team, she expressed that she had always ‘wanted to go to Antarctica’ and hailed it as a ‘beautiful place’ and felt it was an ‘important reason to to fall behind’.
Natalie Corbett, 31, from Hampshire, first married her sweetheart, George, in June this year. But now she wants to trade a white wedding for the white snow of Antarctica when she flies off to run the world’s most remote gift shop
Mairi (pictured left) is joined by Clare Ballantyne (pictured right), Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone on the five-month journey. Port Lockroy veteran Vicky Inglis will also travel with them to help them settle
Despite its remote nature, Port Lockroy’s lack of running water and the fact that it has no flush toilets, the base is one of the most popular tourist destinations for cruise ship passengers in Antarctica.
It welcomes around 15,000 visitors each year – many of whom come to visit the area’s Gentoo penguin colony.
And its post office, which proudly boasts of being the southernmost functioning post office in the world, processes an astonishing 80,000 polar postcards each year.
One member of the team, Natalie Corbett, was planning her wedding before she found out she would be spending her ‘honeymoon’ more than 8,700 miles from her new husband in one of the world’s most remote locations.
Lucy Bruzzone (pictured left) will be the Base Leader at Port Lockroy. Port Lockroy veteran Vicky Inglis (right) will be the General Assistant and Wildlife Monitor and will help the group settle in
The 31-year-old, from Hampshire, first married her sweetheart, George, in June this year.
But now she wants to trade a white wedding for the white snow of Antarctica as she flies off to run the world’s most remote gift shop.
Newlywed Natalie, who has worked in retail for several years, will leave her husband – who she says is ‘very supportive’ of the move – to take over the running of the island’s gift shop for five months.
But the businesswoman, who beat a record 6,000 applicants to get the job, has revealed she never actually expected to get the job.
The women will share the island with a colony of gentoo penguins, which Mrs. Hilton will be responsible for monitoring
She told Daily Telegraph: ‘My husband was very supportive when I told him I was applying. But like me he thought you can apply but you won’t get the job. I think now he’s panicking a bit’.
She added: ‘Who wouldn’t want to spend five months working on an island full of penguins in one of the most remote places on the planet?
‘I’m treating this as my solo honeymoon.’
Natalie is joined by Mairi, Clare Ballantyne and Lucy Bruzzone on the five-month journey. Port Lockroy veteran Vicky Inglis will also travel with them to help them settle.
Alongside the lack of running water and a flushing toilet, the women will have to deal with freezing temperatures and almost constant daylight.
But they will share the island with a colony of gentoo penguins, which Mairi will be responsible for monitoring.
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust advertises annually for postmasters to work on site seasonally. In the picture: A map showing where the post office is located
Located on the 1.7 hectare Goudier Island, Port Lockroy is an Antarctic base operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT)
‘This will be my first time in Antarctica and I am very excited to see the white continent. I have no idea what to expect when we get there – how cold will it be, will we have to dig through the snow to the post office?’ Mairi, from Scotland, said.
‘I’m a conservation biologist so personally I can’t wait to see penguins and other wildlife like seabirds and whales.’
The four women were among 6,000 people who expressed interest in the roles, which were advertised by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) charity.
They will be based on the island for five months, spending Christmas together and looking after the charity’s flagship site.
Training for the trip, which will see the team travel 9,000 miles to reopen the bay for the first time since the pandemic, includes learning remote first aid and a talk from a ‘penguinologist’.
Alongside the lack of running water and a flushing toilet, the women will have to deal with freezing temperatures and almost constant daylight. Pictured: Inside Port Lockroy
Newly appointed Postmaster Clare, who has just completed a Masters in Earth Sciences at Oxford University, will hand-handle around 80,000 cards sent from the site to more than 100 countries each year.
“I’m most looking forward to stepping on to Goudier Island and enjoying the cacophony and pungent smell of the penguins, the backdrop of the glaciers and the Fief Mountains – and being able to call it home for the next few months,” said the 23-year-old from Lincolnshire.
Lucy will be the base manager, manage the team and coordinate all ship visits to the island.
The researcher, who has already spent three months in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard on an Arctic expedition, described the opportunity as a ‘lifelong dream’.
The team will be joined by Vicky, a general assistant for the 2019/20 season, who will help settle them into the first 10 weeks.
Vicky, a 42-year-old from Aberdeenshire, who started working for UKAHT full-time in the summer, said: ‘Port Lockroy has a very special place in my heart.
“Having spent five months out there before the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m excited to travel with the new team to introduce them to the magic of Antarctica.”
The Gentoo Penguin: The crustacean-munching birds that can weigh up to 8.5kg and swim at speeds of up to 22mph
Gentoo penguins are a penguin species easily identified by a broad, white stripe that stretches like a bonnet across the top of their head.
First discovered by the German naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster in 1781, they live in the Antarctic region, including on Goudier Island, as well as parts of southern South America – including in the Falkland Islands.
They are the third largest species in the world – after emperor and king penguins – and fully grown adults can weigh up to 8.5kg.
Gentoo penguins are a penguin species easily identified by a broad, white stripe that stretches like a bonnet across the top of their head
They are fast swimmers, with top speeds of up to 22 km/h, and feed mainly on crustaceans, shrimps and krill – but can also eat fish.
In general, gentoo penguins are monogamous breeders, and scientists have even observed that the penguins can punish infidelity by banishing cheating males from their colonies. The penguins also give each other stones used to build their nests as a sign of love.
Elders are not currently considered endangered, with a total breeding population estimated to be over 600,000 birds.
However, rapid declines in some key areas are believed to be the cause of a moderate overall decline in the species population.