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New photo collection on the archive – Jaimie Cleeland (Gough63)

Collection of: Jaimie Cleeland
Overwintering station: Gough Island
Team: 63rd Gough Island Overwintering Team
Year: 2017/2018
Position: Ornithological field assistant – appointed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Residing country:  Tasmania
Number of photos in collection: 216 (183 photos taken by Jaimie, 25 taken by Kate Lawrence, 7 by Tom McSherry and 1 by Z. Milner)
View full collection: Click here

Jaimie made a special effort to supply ALSA with some photos, reflecting precious moments of her time on Gough Island and great photos of the inside of the base and surroundings. Jaimie and her team are still on the way back from Gough Island, where they spent a year in isolation. The ETA is between the 11th and 14th of October 2018.

I asked Jaimie some questions…

Have you stayed/overwintered on any other islands?

I’ve worked on the Australian subantarctic island, Macquarie Island for three summer seasons (18 months in total).

Where did you first hear about Gough Island?

I read about Gough Island during my PhD on albatross demography. Sadly to me it was known as the place where mice eat albatross chicks alive.

How and why did you end up overwintering?

I was employed by RSPB as a field assistant to collect data on Gough’s threatened seabirds prior to the upcoming mouse eradication. For me, I was excited to see the annual breeding cycle of the island’s unique species.

Did you enjoy your job?

The field assistants have the best job on the island. We get to explore remote and wild areas, as well as experience the unique wildlife up close. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What challenges did you face during the year?

Hiking on Gough is no easy feat. The trails in the lowlands are narrow, muddy and often steep. Sometimes we returned to base covered in mud from head to toe. As you gain altitude you leave behind the fern bush and encounter open wet heath habitat, where the short spongy vegetation drains the energy from your feet with every step.

Can you sum up your Gough Island Overwintering Experience in one sentence?

A year full of new experiences, rugged terrain, wildlife encounters and memorable moments with friends.


ALSA would like to thank Jaimie Cleeland for supplying us with her Gough Island photo collection- click here to view the full collection on the archive.

We encourage anyone with photos, documents etc. relating to South Africa’s involvement “down south” to contact ALSA at


Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 08 October 2018.

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