British Antarctic Survey train SEA LIFE London Aquarium aquarists in advance of the arrival of the Gentoo penguins
STAFF LEARN SUB-ZERO SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES IN PREPARATION FOR ANTARCIC ARRIVALS AT THE SEA LIFE LONDON AQUARIUM
Aquarists at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium took a special crash course on Wednesday to help them prepare for a new Antarctic-themed area featuring 10 Gentoo Penguins, due to open in May. Led by Dr Iain Staniland, a Penguin Biologist from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the training included an unusual practical session requiring the team to get tied up with rope and put white buckets on their heads to simulate white out blizzard conditions.
The tutorial was designed to help the team answer guests questions about life in the harshest corner of the world and covered some essential Antarctic survival techniques – from how to negotiate blizzards to how go to the toilet in sub-zero temperatures.
Dr Staniland explains, “We wanted to give the team here a tiny taste of the training a real expedition would go through. As crazy as it might seem the buckets are an excellent first introduction to white out blizzard conditions. Once they are on your sight is significantly, although not completely, impaired and you are disorientated. The challenge is to communicate effectively with your team when your senses are so severely compromised and it’s really not that easy.”
After buckets the team progressed to the total white out goggles BAS use when preparing new residents for life on their icy outposts in Antarctica. They also got a taste of food rations and, most importantly, given the new arrivals about to move in, some first hand insights into the behaviour of Gentoo Penguins.
“We really want to give guests to the new experience a flavour of the Antarctic and life there for ALL its residents”, said the SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s curator, Paul Hale. “As well as an icy viewing cave bringing them close to the amazing Gentoo Penguin, there will be a mini research station featuring authentic equipment plus plenty of interactives. And, after today, the team will well and truly be equipped to answer any question with confidence.”