This week at Casey Station 30 January 2009
The marine team of Jonny, Cath, Karen, Glenn, Helena and Chris were out and about on the IRBs again this week busily sampling in O'Brien Bay, Sparkes Bay, Newcomb Bay and Petersen Channel. The team are sampling fish and marine invertebrates including sea urchins, amphipods, sea stars, worms, and snails for a number of scientific projects.
They are using a variety of methods for their collections including snorkelling, dip nets, traps, grab samplers and plankton tows. So far, it has been a very successful season with bucket loads of samples generated each day.
With only two weeks of their field season left, sampling trips are planned daily and they are hoping the good weather that they have enjoyed so far continues.
Last Friday saw Barry B, Belinda, Tim, Anthony and Troy M head out to Jacks Donga for an overnight excursion. Travelling there was tough, with all three of the quads getting bogged at some stage or another. Troy won the 'lets get bogged the most' comp, managing to get stuck three times, although, in his defence, one time was in attempting to rescue a damsel in distress. Luckily the trusty Hagg was nearby to tow them all free. Thanks Barry.
Upon arrival at Jacks they took some time to admire the pristine views, the beautiful colours and… the toilet. Not just any toilet, but the toilet with the best views in the world. Any tourist would pay thousands for the opportunity to sit on this dunny. Taking it all in, while letting it all out.
Jacks is blessed with a fantastically huge slope down towards the water, so they all took turns skiing down the hill. I guess technically it is still skiing when you are travelling down a hill with skis, although Tim, Anthony and Troy would struggle to convince even the most unacquainted skier that that is in fact what they were doing. Barry the butcher carved up the ice in his flash set of skis and Belinda showed her prowess on both modes of transport. Unfortunately, Jacks is not blessed with a ski-lift. Might have to put an order in to Kingston for next year.
Later that night, as sunset approached, the sky turned a bright pink and a 'solar pillar' was witnessed above the sun. Quite a stunning way to end a beautiful day.
After a good nights sleep, they awoke early... hahaha, not really. Slept in till 9ish. Anthony, who was in a quad bivvy outside was politely awoken by Troy with a technique that Belinda had demonstrated the night before, that ensured his prompt evacuation, from his bivvy.
The group headed home via the skiway, to check out some of the planes and take some happy snaps.
While it can't be denied that the iceberg parked in the middle of the entrance to Horseshoe Harbour at Mawson is quite spectacular, it is proving a real headache at times like re-supply.
Photo: Ian Phillips
At Casey we also have an iceberg, and while not as impressive it is a lot more convenient and rather cute. The little tacker has moved into a small bay under Reeve Hill, where it is content to drift around as the currents dictate and stay well away from the path of impending ships. Possibly a wise move on its part as the impending ship probably wouldn't even notice that it had run over the iceberg.
And of course, all this talk of icebergs in bays segues nicely into the major activity at Casey this week; preparation for and the commencement of the annual resupply.
On Monday we awoke to find the Amderma occupying a significant proportion of O'Brien Bay, confirming what we had been told: this is one mighty big ship.
Operations commenced almost immediately with the barges, uniflotes and some of the first of the cargo being unloaded while the fuel lines were deployed. Refuelling commenced during Tuesday afternoon, and was brought to a premature end when the fuel was found to be contaminated. In the meantime, the cargo has continued to come ashore, albeit somewhat slowly due to the refuelling operations happening concurrently. Now that this has been suspended and the equipment packed up, the unloading of the 240 tonnes of cargo can begin in earnest.
Clearly a busy time ahead at Casey for the next week or so and no doubt more about all this next week.
Just when you think you have time to take a breath, chill out and put your feet up for a day after seemingly never ending visitors that range from Head Office Staff, Chinese Diplomats, Politicians through to Scientists, Plant operators and a Shotfirer, a thumping great ship turns up in the Bay.
The A319 on New Years Day, then the Amderma on Australia Day has left us wondering what is in store for Easter. With the cargo steadily streaming in from the ship and a bit of a hiccup with refueling that added to the workload of resupply it is nice to reflect on some positives.
Resupply is a time that brings out the best in the incredibly talented team here. Crane operators, skidder drivers, watercraft workers, beach masters, diesos, scientists and all others on station along with the crew on board the ship band together to make it all run as smoothly and as safely as possible. Time lapse footage of cranes, watercraft, workers and vehicles showcase the skills of all concerned in what looks like a highly choreographed ballet of machinery and people. It is an exciting time.
Faces light up when new equipment comes ashore to replace tired old machines, fresh vegetables are keenly looked forward to after a few months of frozen food and boxes of personal effects will be opened with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old at Christmas. There are more than 100 people involved in the operation and all of them need to be fed, the kitchens on board the ship and on station continue to produce meals to keep the human team mobile and a team of volunteers are in and out of the kitchen to assist when time allows.
The resupply will go on for several more days and once the ship has gone a few days will be needed to tidy up. The Basler aircraft with the ICECAP team will depart, a new influx of scientists and visitors will arrive on the A319 and we will take a break to celebrate New Years Day and Australia Day. A little late but with enthusiasm.