UK scientist swaps seals and penguins in sub-Antarctic for Christmas at home


After spending last Christmas with seals and penguins in the sub-Antarctic, a British scientist is on his way home to swap seabirds for turkey.

Jamie Coleman, a higher predator biologist with the British Antarctic Survey from Islip, Oxfordshire, has spent the last 14 months on the island of South Georgia in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sitting 860 miles (1,400km) south-east of the Falkland Islands, the island is home to millions of penguins, seals and seabirds.

The 27-year-old, who studied marine biology at Newcastle University, said he was first inspired to go to the island when he watched Sir David Attenborough on the BBC's Frozen Planet.

"This year has been absolutely life-changing, I have ticked so many things off my bucket list whilst living in the true wilderness," he said.

"I have fallen in love with South Georgia and anyone that visits will immediately see why.

"But I'm returning home for Christmas this year and although I will miss the seals and penguins, I am extremely excited to see my friends and family, drink a pint of draught beer and watch Match Of The Day for the first time in 14 months."

During his time on the island, Mr Coleman has also spent a lot of time photographing the wildlife that was all around him.

He said: "Photography is a hobby that I have developed as a result of my love for wildlife.

"I spend so long working immersed in such amazing wildlife that it would be stupid not to take photos.

"South Georgia boasts enormous densities of penguins, seals, seabirds and whales as a result of its nutrient-rich waters and therefore I am presented with unique photographic opportunities on a daily basis."

Christmas in the UK is summer on South Georgia, but Mr Coleman said the team still tries to get into the festive spirit by putting up decorations and drinking mulled wine.

"If you're lucky, family and friends have remembered far enough in advance to send you a few presents down and if the internet is working you may get a broken Skype message from home," he said.