The worker was looking for one of the most remote places in the world

Two rainbows over Gough Island in the South Atlantic Sea

Gough Island is a dependency of Tristan da Cunha, itself a remote British territory in the South Atlantic

A British wildlife group are looking for someone to work on one of the world’s most remote islands for 13 months.

Gough Island, a British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean, has no permanent population.

It’s about 1,500 miles (2,400km) from the African mainland, and with no airport, reaching Gough requires a seven-day boat trip from South Africa.

It’s a journey already taken by Rebekah Goodwill and Lucy Dorman, who currently work at Gough.

They’re among the seven full-time employees — and eight million birds — who call Gough home.

Lucy Dorman and Rebecca

Lucy and Rebecca in Gough

The two work for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Before moving to Gough, Lucy worked in Antarctica while Rebekah worked for the RSPB in Scotland.

Rebekah’s year on the island ends in September, so the RSPB are looking for a new field officer, with a salary of between £25,000 and £27,000.

The work involves “frequent long days” tracking seabird species and requires candidates to be well adapted to living in a “tough and remote sub-Antarctic environment”.

Applicants should also have “a Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent experience in a relevant subject” as well as “experience of handling and monitoring wild birds/animals in the field”.

And Rebekah and Lucy warn prospective employees that they will face severe weather conditions and endure without fresh food for a year.

“I think Bekah and I, being British, thought we were used to rain,” Lucy says. “But there’s a lot of rain.”

He adds, “We’re on the verge of the roaring 40s. We’re just a small rock in the middle of the South Atlantic, so we have quite extreme weather.”

The Roaring Forties describes the area between latitudes 40 and 50 south of the equator, known for strong winds.

A woman walks along the cliffs of Gough Island

A woman walks along the cliffs of Gough Island

So what do you eat when you’re over a thousand miles from the nearest town? Be prepared to receive packaged or frozen meals.

“It was definitely one thing they stressed for us before we came: that for a lot of people, a lack of food and a lack of fresh food is significant,” Lucy says.

“The main thing I definitely miss is just like a crunchy carrot, or being able to bite into a nice apple. Just a little bit of crunch, but other than that, I don’t feel like I’m missing much.”

Fresh fruits and vegetables pose too much biosecurity risk of germinating and spreading throughout the island. Instead, food comes mostly from two walk-in freezers, stocked once a year.

“One is full of frozen vegetables and the other is basically full of frozen meat and then we have a lot of canned frozen fruits and vegetables,” Rebekah says.

“They give us a year’s worth of food during that two-week acquisition period, and we live off that for the rest of the year.”

Takeover time refers to the period once a year, in September, when some Gough employees pack up and go home and take over new workers.

Lucy Dorman works near an albatross and its chick

Lucy Dorman works near an albatross and its chick

And what about social isolation?

“In a weird way I feel like I’m more connected to my friends and family here than I probably was when I worked in Scotland,” Rebekah says.

The two say that with the internet at their core, staying in touch is easier than ever, and the support from the small team makes up for the rough patches.

“It’s a very beautiful community here, so we’re able to share stories, learn from each other, and support each other when you can’t be at a wedding or funeral,” Rebekah adds.

As part of the RSPB International Conservation Science Team, Lucy and Rebekah track the movements of various endangered birds, such as the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, Atlantic petrel and MacGillivray’s prion.

During the day, they brave the weather and head out to camp – usually kitted out in waterproof jackets and trousers and rubber boots – to locate the birds.

They are collecting data on chicks on the island and their fight against mice, an invasive species, which ate them.

“They [the mice] they started eating the seabirds,” says Lucy. “They have no predators, the mice on the island, and so they have had a huge impact, particularly on the little chicks.”

Rockhopper penguins on Gough Island

Northern Rock Hopper Penguins on Gough Island

Mice became so damaging to chicks in 2017-18 that only 21 percent of Tristan’s albatross chicks survived to fledging. In a critically endangered species of petrel that nests in burrows – the MacGillivray prion – not a single chick survived.

The RSPB suspects the rats were introduced to Gough by sailors in the 19th century and the group has been working to eradicate them.

Eradication has significantly reduced the population, but the RSPB has not yet managed to completely rid the island of rats.

So for those interested in a year on Gough — including birds, mice, frozen food and spectacular remoteness — the deadline to apply is late Sunday.

Gough Map

Gough Map

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