Viral Antarctica South Pole TikToks

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I don’t know if I could do this…

We’ve all felt pretty isolated this last year. Many of us have probably also moved or considered moving.

But…would you ever consider moving to Antarctica?


Stephen Lim / Getty Images

That’s just what TikTok users @antwuhnet and @joespinstheglobe have done. The two, along with 38 other crewmates, live at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in, you guessed it, the South Pole.


Getty Images

Antarctica’s ultra-clean air and lack of light pollution, as well as the cold climate, give scientists the opportunity to study astronomy, astrophysics, geology, biology, and more. In order to support this staff, there are also a number of other personnel at the base, including Toni and Joe.

Antoinette and Josiah, who work together at the base but have different jobs (Toni works in logistics and waste and Joe is a physician’s assistant), began posting their TikToks a few weeks ago, and they were overwhelmed by the millions of views they both received on their videos.


@antwuhnet, @joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com tiktok.com

Antoinette told BuzzFeed that she began posting TikToks at the encouragement of a friend at another station (@move.with.murph) and her mom, who’s an avid TikTok user and wanted frequent updates from her daughter. Joe decided to begin posting TikToks after Antoinette’s went viral, and he said he loves answering people’s questions and hopes to get them interested in science: “I’ve always been a science enthusiast, so to suddenly have this platform to explain really cool things to people is just an amazing opportunity that I don’t want to waste.”

They’re both part of the winter crew, which is a smaller group than the one there in the summer and stays at the Base from mid-February to October/November with no way to leave (they also can’t receive mail or packages in this time).


@antwuhnet / Via tiktok.com

However, both Joe and Toni said they had no doubts after arriving — though Joe did mention it’s a little nerve-racking to watch the last plane leave. After it does, there is a tradition on the base to watch all The Thing movies.

People have been super fascinated by the different elements of the base — especially what it’s actually like to live in such an isolated, freezing place. Since it’s now winter, it’s dark 24/7 and will be for about half the year.


@antwuhnet, @joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com tiktok.com

Antoinette called the experience an adventure, and Joe talked about being hooked on the idea of living at the South Pole ever since a former station doctor shared his experience being there in the ’80s.

The winter average temperature for the South Pole is about -76 degrees Farhenheit, though wind chill makes it feel even colder. Below, you can see Toni and Joe doing an experiment where they throw boiling water into the air and it turns to snow.


@antwuhnet / Via tiktok.com

Joe is from Florida and Toni is from California, so this is definitely new territory for them (though Toni was previously stationed at the McMurdo Station for the summer).

The base itself is pretty modern and has a weight room, an arts and crafts room, a gym, a music/recreation room, a movie room (Joe says they’re currently watching the show Dark for Sci-Fi Sundays), and a greenhouse.


@joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com

They can drink alcohol, but the amount they can buy is limited. There are three meals served a day, coffee (including a volunteer-run specialty coffee bar on Sundays), and treats like fresh cookies, as well as a PoleMart to buy extra snacks. Antoinette mentioned that she burns 3,000 calories a day just from her job due to how cold it is, so the meals are robust (and delicious). There are also social events most nights, like volleyball, board games, and movie nights with theater-style popcorn.

Toni and Joe work six days a week (though Joe is on call 24/7 for emergencies), which may seem like a lot, but Toni says there’s plenty of time to relax. A lot of this time is spent in the galley, though Antoinette mentioned her favorite place in the base is the Dog Wall, where people put up pictures of their pets.


@antwuhnet, @joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com tiktok.com

Now that it’s dark, Toni also helped create something called a “Happy Room” for anyone feeling down. The room is “covered in pillows, blankets, soothing music, humidifiers, and happy lights” so people can get a feel for UV rays. They also take Vitamin D supplements — unfortunately, once it’s dark, they also must cover all the windows, as the light can interfere with the science going on.

They don’t go outside often, as the land is basically just an icy plateau — Toni shovels snow from emergency exits and grabs supplies and occasionally steps out to cool down after a sauna session, and Joe only goes outside to check medical equipment, take pictures of the Aurora Australis, or escort scientists to the “Dark Sector.”


@antwuhnet, @joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com tiktok.com tiktok.com

The Dark Sector may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually just an area where anything that could interfere with radio telescopes (that are mostly used to study the formation and evolution of the universe), including radios themselves, are turned off, meaning people must use a buddy system to travel there safely.

The two live in tiny dorms that residents can decorate as they wish — Antoinette opted for a bunch of tapestries that she says are lying around the base, while Joe’s room is pretty simple.


@antwuhnet, @joespinstheglobe / Via tiktok.com

According to Joe, they all share a community bathroom. You also have to be very quiet in your bedroom, because the walls are very thin.

Given the college dorm-like feel, we asked Toni and Joe if relationships form on the base.


@antwuhnet / Via tiktok.com

Both stated that they’re friends with most of the others at the station and said that relationships (and even marriages!) do form, but they’re pretty low-key: “This is partially so that everyone stays focused on their jobs, and also to prevent anyone from feeling more sad or envious due to being single on station or separated from a significant other back home,” Joe said.

The two are able to go on the internet, including social media (hence the TikToks), and can even call their families, but internet is only available for 6–9 hours a day, and they don’t have the bandwidth for any type of streaming.


@antwuhnet / Via tiktok.com

Toni told BuzzFeed, “I do feel like I’m missing out on pop culture sometimes! One of my friends was down here last season when Tiger King was huge, and she said the confusion she and everyone on station felt was tangible.” However, they do have a large DVD and Blu-ray collection!

As for how COVID has affected the base, both Joe and Toni talked about the extensive testing and quarantining that happened prior to their arrival. However, now that all are isolated, they’re able to interact maskless and without social distancing.


JONATHAN BERRY/AFP via Getty Images

They haven’t received any of the COVID vaccines because their last supplies arrived before larger rollouts and because the guidelines they had in place were already extremely effective considering their level of isolation.

If you think this all sounds awesome and you’d like to live at the South Pole, you can apply at leidos.com/antarctica. All sorts of roles need to be filled, including doctors, electricians, plumbers, dishwashers, chefs, scientists, and more.


Getty Images

Joe says he applied 1–2 times a year for the last five years, waiting for something to open up after hearing a former South Pole doctor’s experience, so it may take a while!

What do you think? Could you live at the South Pole all winter? Let us know in the comments!

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