On a lonely December night at Antarctica's McMurdo Station, an American scientist conducting research there decided to log on to Tinder — "just for fun." He'd been using the mobile dating app in the States for a few months, and wanted to see if there were any available women out on the loveless tundra. At first, no profiles showed up. But when he expanded the app's location radius, he found someone: another researcher, working at a deep field camp a 45-minute helicopter ride away from the base station. He swiped right, indicating his interest, and a few minutes later, they matched.
"She was actually in her tent in the Dry Valleys when we matched," said the scientist, who asked not to be named out of concern that the government would revoke his internet privileges if anyone found out he was using precious broadband to look for hookups. "She was quite literally camping in Antarctica, went on Tinder, and found me. It's mind-blowing."
Although Tinder doesn't keep statistics on its users in Antarctica, the company agreed that this was probably the first match on the continent. It's also likely to be the only one, at least this year. The McMurdo scientist tells the Cut that while he initially thought Tinder might be a fun way to spice up Antarctica's insular, end-of-the-earth hookup scene, budget cuts and last fall's government shutdown have decimated the dating pool.
"I was really excited for the silliness of Tinder down here," he said in an email. "But there are 200 fewer scientists than there should be right now because of the shutdown. How's that for an unintended consequence?"
A few weeks after the match, the scientist emailed again to say that he had finally met his Tinder match. The interaction was brief — she was leaving Antarctica the next day — but he expects they'll hang out again before the end of the summer research season.
"I have yet to become the first Tinder hookup in Antarctic history," he said. "But she is actually coming back, and we may overlap. There's still hope."