The ‘Penguin Post Office’, located at Port Lockroy on the Antarctic Peninsula recently put out an advertisement looking for employees for the next Antarctic season. The facility is a former British Antarctic base, restored and maintained by the Antarctic Heritage Trust, and shares the tiny Goudier Island with a small colony of gentoo penguins. The job posting was received with great enthusiasm from the public, with over 1500 applications for just 4 positions. 87 applications for the very same positions were received the previous year.
This drastic upturn in interest is likely due to the popularity of the TV special ‘Penguin Post Office’, aired in the US on PBS just several months ago. It’s encouraging to see that public interest and awareness about Antarctica is higher than ever, largely because of increasing exposure and education. This illustrates the real power media holds in conveying information to the general public and sparking more widespread interest in a subject. With many scientists today looking to connect with a broader audience and disseminate their research to the public, perhaps more polished media material and coverage of their research is the way to go. Time and funding for these efforts, however stands as a major challenge. Perhaps with additional media partnerships and an increase in the number of people acting in roles specifically designed to facilitate the transmission of scientific information to the masses, these kinds of efforts will become increasingly popular. One can hope, because who doesn’t enjoy a good science video?