Antarctica base gets 16,500 condoms before darkness

WELLINGTON Mon Jun 9, 2008 1:24pm EDT

The Trans Antarctic Mountains are clearly visible from the flight deck of a ski-equipped cargo plane flying from McMurdo Station to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, December 11, 2006. REUTERS/Deborah Zabarenko

The Trans Antarctic Mountains are clearly visible from the flight deck of a ski-equipped cargo plane flying from McMurdo Station to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, December 11, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Deborah Zabarenko

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - One of the last shipments to a U.S. research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms, a New Zealand newspaper reported Monday.

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them.

The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

"Since everybody knows everyone, it becomes a little bit uncomfortable," Henriksen told the Southland Times newspaper.

About 125 scientists and staff are stationed at McMurdo base, the largest community in Antarctica, during the winter months when there is constant darkness.

The first sunrise will occur on August 20 and McMurdo's population will start to increase again in September when supply flights resume, peaking at more than 1,000 during the summer period.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada, editing by Miral Fahmy)

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