Arrival of L'Astrolabe
On the 20th October I headed back to Hobart from New Zealand, on my way once again to Macquarie Island with my partner Jack Bauer, some more MIPEP people and others involved with various scientific projects, all up there was 14 of us. Jack and I had previously spent 20 months on Macquarie as part of the MIPEP team as dog handlers from July 2011 to March 2013 and we are back again for the summer to monitor the island for signs of rabbits.
On the 22nd we all headed to the new quarantine building at the wharf to be the first team through the quarantine procedures before hitting the shores of Macca. This quarantine procedure has been of a high importance since the start of the pest eradication project in a bid to make Macquarie Island completely pest free from rabbits, rats, mice and also to make sure no other invasive plant species makes it down.
We were greeted by Tama, a Terrior from New Zealand – formally part of the rabbit hunting team on Macquarie Island since 2011, he left the island with us during March 2013 and is now checking all the bags for stowaway rats and mice at the quarantine store in Hobart.
The quarantine procedure was thorough, bags were checked, shoes scrubbed with Virkon, Velcro, pockets and all nooks and crannys were checked for any plant matter or seeds that were hidden away. After we were all given the all clear and no rats, mice or seeds were left in any gear to contaminate the island we boarded the L’Astrolabe, to start our journey down to Macca.
We left Hobart with the sun shining and beautiful blue skies overhead and we had an amazing trip down with calm seas and most people had no trouble with sea sickness except two poor guys who didn’t surface from their bunks until dry land was in sight.
On the 25th the island slowly came into view through the mist and cloud and we thought our eyes were playing tricks on us but when we finally came close enough to see the station the sun was shining and it was remarkable to see the island not covered in mist. But in true Macca style the snow came through that afternoon and over the next day the station was completely white, a great introduction for all the newbies to the island.
Once on shore, bags and cargo were unpacked, we were greeted by lots of happy winterers, who hadn’t seen any other people for 7 months and were probably a bit overwhelmed by the mass of new faces invading the island, but at the same time keen to share some new stories with different people.
The Summer season has now started on Macquarie and there is an array of different exciting science projects being undertaken and I know that everyone is keen to get out and start working (myself included) and get out there and enjoy all that the island has to offer.