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Wildlife Awareness Manual: Protecting Antarctic Wildlife From Aircraft

Wildlife Awareness Manual Cover – Chinstrap penguin, South Shetland Islands
Wildlife Awareness Manual Cover – Chinstrap penguin, South Shetland Islands. Photo copyright: Colin Harris 2006.
Aircraft are vital in the Antarctic. Unfortunately, sensitive wildlife can be affected by the noise and sight of low-flying helicopters.

That’s why the FCO helped fund a Wildlife Awareness Manual to help reduce the impact of flights in the Antarctic Peninsula / South Shetland Islands / South Orkney Islands region.

How does the Wildlife Awareness Manual help?

This is the first tool about the region's wildlife designed specifically for aircrews - to be used before and after take-off.

It includes detailed maps and info about the location of bird colonies in the region and guidance on approaching helicopter landing sites near sensitive areas.

The manual includes info about all known breeding colonies of:

  • Chinstrap, Adélie, gentoo and macaroni penguins
  • Southern giant petrels
  • Antarctic petrels
  • Antarctic shags
  • Southern fulmars
  • Antarctic fur seals

The manual's valuable information means aircrews can now plan routes that minimise impact on the precious wildlife below and still continue to fly their essential operations.

POAC Andy Johnson RN, Aircraft Controller, in Lnyx cockpit with the manual on HMS Endurance in Edinburgh.
'An excellent piece of kit' – POAC Andy Johnson RN, Aircraft Controller, in Lnyx cockpit with the manual on HMS Endurance. Copyright: Susie Grant 2006.

How was the manual created?

The polar environmental and mapping consultancy Environmental Research & Assessment Ltd designed and produced the manual for the FCO.

A range of experts contributed with photos, maps and advice on how the manual should work. They included:

The manual was adapted from an existing RAF helicopter landing site manual to ensure aircrews could easily use it.

The team worked closely with 212 Flight 815 Royal Naval Air Squadron HMS Endurance who tested it during 2004-06.

The manual has been extremely popular and now plays an important role in the protection of Antarctica's wildlife.

HMS Endurance
HMS Endurance, Antarctic Sound. Copyright: Colin Harris 2001.

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