18 January 2008

Nine expeditioners finally set foot on Macquarie Island after a three day voyage from Hobart on the tourist ship, Marina Cveteava. A welcoming party eagerly awaited their zodiac arrival from the ship in the chilly wind at Buckles Bay.

To bide time, the shore party decorated the beach with a message, "Welcome to Macca" so our voyage weary companions would feel welcomed to their new home.  

Expeditioners on beach awaiting new arrivals
Welcoming party awaiting new expeditioners
Photo: Annelise W
'Welcome to Macca' sign hastily made with stones on beach
Welcoming message
Photo: Annelise W

Sean (Ranger in Charge) and Eve (taking on the role of Quarantine Officer) were delivered out to the ship to brief the tourists before they came ashore for a tour of the station. Eve and Sean took Stay, our very patient quarantine sniffer dog, to inspect the ship and luckily everything was in order as Stay did not find anything worth barking about. Eve took the opportunity to don her official uniform, complete with gold, tasseled epaulettes.

Expeditioner and Station mascot wait on beach for arrivals from ship
Eve and Stay awaiting a pickup out to the ship
Photo: Annelise W
Expeditioners and Station mascot heading to ship in Inflatable Rubber Boat
Eve, Sean and Stay heading out to the ship
Photo: Annelise W
Station mascot waiting patiently in Inflatable Rubber Boat
Stay being very patient
Photo: Eve M

Expeditioner and Station mascot aborad tourist vessel
Eve with official epaulettes and Stay after a tour sniffing the ship
Photo: Sean T
Macquarie Island Rranger briefing the visiting tourists
Sean briefing the tourists
Photo: Eve M

The new expeditioners finally arrived. We gained a new ranger (Ian), six human impacts scientists (Jane, Susan, Erika, Andrew, Ben and Greg) and two AAD staff (Graham and Tim) who will be preparing the store for re-cladding and other building maintenance.

Elephant seal fighting on beach on Macquarie Island
Entertainment on the beach whilst waiting for our new crew
Photo: Annelise W
New expeditioners arriving on Macquarie Island via Inflatable Rubber Boat
New expeditioners arrived in a blur of yellow
Photo: Annelise W

Two Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Services rangers, Al and Ian meeting for the first time
Two rangers, Al and Ian meeting for the first time
Photo: Annelise W
Expeditioner welcoming new arrival ashore
Greg welcomes Andrew ashore; you are in for a great summer
Photo: Annelise W

Whilst the rangers and volunteers took groups of tourists around the station and isthmus, the old and new Macca crew set to work getting the many packages and boxes off the Marina Cveteava by zodiac. The most appreciated packages were those that came in the mail from friends and family back home.

Finally the new crew was able to relax in their new accommodation as the ship sailed south with the four rangers aboard, including Ian who was unfortunately denied stable land for an extra two days. The tourists were lucky enough to have very calm conditions for zodiac cruises around Lusitania Bay. Here they were awed by the thousands of king penguins that form the largest colony of this species in the world.

King Penguin standing in front of cut-out penguin pictures on side of Station building
Confused King Penguin
Photo: Greg H
Tourists in Inflatable Rubber Boats counting the penguins at Lusitania Bay
Tourists counting the penguins at Lusitania Bay
Photo: Annelise W

Those on board Marina Cveteava endured a rough night, requiring them to remain on the move throughout the night and most of the following day. The rangers actually woke up feeling a little concerned about their chances of returning to the station, as they found themselves 20km south of the island (were they on their way to the ice with the passengers?).

Finally the seas calmed and the tourists and rangers were able to land at Sandy Bay to enjoy the wildlife. Back on station the Macca crew weathered a very windy night as the storm whipped up huge waves and the wind rattled buildings. In the morning the station and plateau were beautifully dappled in snow.

Tourist photographing penguins at Sandy Bay
Curious penguins putting on a show at Sandy Bay for the tourists
Photo: Annelise W
Huge waves whipped up by a storn on Macquarie Island
Lovely day
Photo: Greg H
Petrel almost caught in rough surf on beach
Photo: Greg H

Rough seas created by storm on Macquarie Island
I wonder how the rangers are going on the ship out there
Photo: Eve M
Tourists moving from Inflatable Rubber Boat to gangway of cruise ship
Step aboard, but hold on tight
Photo: Sean T

Between the excitement of three ships in a week, nine new friends and wild weather, we have all remained busy. Sarah and Nick have been back and forth between station and the far reaches of the island banding northern giant petrels, Natalie has begun tagging fur seal pups and Greg, the sparky, spent some time in the surgery, getting familiar with the electrics of the oscilloscope.

Expeditioners returning to Station after field trip banding Petrels
Lionel welcoming Sarah and (big bellied) Nick back to station after banding petrels
Photo: Greg H
Electrician examining oscilloscope in Station's surgery
Greg, the sparky, checking out the surgery's oscilloscope
Photo: Eve M

Thanks to everyone for the mail and here's cheers to a great summer with our nine new crew.