Meet the team: 10 questions with Dickie Hall
We touch base with UKAHT’s head of operations Dickie Hall about his time at Rothera Research Station and tracking jaguars in Belize.
1. Tell us about yourself
I am a biologist by training and have worked for the Environment Agency in England and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland. It was as a biologist that I first heard about and joined the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), spending two years at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. I fell in love with the Antarctic and decided it was somewhere I wanted to keep working, so I moved from being a biologist to working in the operations and logistics department of BAS as a Base Commander. In this role, I returned to Antarctica many times and visited all the BAS stations.
Dickie worked for the RSPB (Credit: Dickie Hall)
One job tends to lead to another and from BAS I went on to work for the South Georgia Heritage Trust on their rodent eradication in South Georgia, this experience then took me to working for the RSPB on their mouse eradication on Gough Island in the mid-Atlantic. It is in this role that I met Nini, my wife. Our family consists of Juno the cocker spaniel puppy who keeps us busy and fit on walks and playtimes.
2. What does a normal day at UKAHT look like for you?
My job with UKAHT is Operations Manager, I have been in this role for just over 6 months. This is a very varied job and changes throughout the year. Right now we have our team deployed to Port Lockroy so the focus is on supporting them, liaising with cruise ships who are visiting the area, and planning for the input of a conservation team to Detaille Island. And already looking towards the end of the season and planning the uplift of our teams and how to get them all home on various IAATO cruise ships who very kindly offer us support and free berths for our team members.
3. What made you want to work for UKAHT?
The polar regions are fascinating places and offer unique challenges to my logistical expertise. UKAHT does amazing work in preserving our Antarctic heritage which would be so easily lost in the harsh environment in which they are placed. The Trust is composed of a small team who achieve huge results in a very difficult environment. I have yet to visit any of the Trust’s sites in person, but maybe one day, I will get the chance.
4. What's your favourite UKAHT site?
My favourite site is Stonington. This is a site I heard a lot about during my time at Rothera and was the base from which some of the great Falkland Islands Dependencies sledging expeditions were launched, mapping the Antarctic Peninsula.
Stonington Island Hut is our southernmost base (Credit: UKAHT)
5. What's your favourite species of penguin?
My favourite species of penguin is the Adélie; they are full of attitude.
6. If you were working at Port Lockroy for the season, what luxury item would you take?
Binoculars – there is always something to see.
"There is always something to see" (Credit: Dickie Hall)
7. Tell us about an experience that changed you
On my way home from my first job with BAS, I volunteered on a jaguar tracking project in Belize in Central America. The jungle is an even more challenging place to work than the polar regions and going direct from the Antarctic to the Tropics was perhaps not the best of ideas. But spending a few months cutting trails through the jungle, hiking every day and bathing in rivers whilst hummingbirds flitted by was the perfect break before heading home after over two years away.
8. Tell us about a dream trip you still want to take
I am very tempted to cycle the Great Divide up through the US from Mexico to Canada. But really, anywhere in the wilds and visiting places I have never been before is fine for me.
9. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Turn off the internet.
10. Could you tell us about something you have learned while working at UKAHT?
I’ve learned that just a few dedicated individuals can have a huge impact. The historic sites of Antarctica survive today because of a small band of enthusiastic people who recognise the importance of preserving these sites for future generations.
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