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On board The Polar Scientist Antarctic ‘boffins’ are being held for their scientific knowledge of a genetic mutation causing infertility - which crosses from ‘beasties’ to humans. Kyle and his Spanish exchange-student girlfriend Jade get involved when Kyle gets a last-minute job for the Antarctic summer as a marine biologist, helping to count ele-seals. Activist Jade who is involved with the Red Herrings, an Internet cyber-protest group, e-mails daily. Like the ele-seal, Kyle is big, and not what you’d call handsome, and he’s not aware of the rogues gallery of dodgy ship owners until e-mailed by Jade who wants him to protest against threats to pristine Antarctica. Jade, who has changed her name from Esmeralda, is his first girlfriend and he doesn’t want to lose her, and in icy isolation, e-mails matter. Jade tells him about illegal fishing vessels, Patagonian tooth-fish poachers, and the Red Herrings web chat-line. After a crazy haircut, which is an Antarctic ritual like ice-dipping nude, Kyle is forced to face questions of mateship, ownership - and just how far you should go to protect a friend, even one who calls you ‘Big K’. Meanwhile, the 'boffins' face the dilemma of whether their scientific knowledge should be shared if others will misuse it.

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