Station update

This week at Macquarie Island: 4 December 2015

Another eventful week here at Macca, with our station population swelling and shrinking on a daily basis as people ventured down island for both work and play. Of our community of 25 there were 14 people in the field last week with all huts being utilised.

Margi and Kate are finally out in the field now. An early morning boating party took advantage of some light winds last Thursday to deliver their cargo of an automatic weather station and other project equipment to Green Gorge Hut. They then hiked out to the hut along with Dom, and FTO Ian to undertake field training en-route. Margi and Kate will continue to be based between Green Gorge and Waterfall Bay huts through until Christmas, working on their project which is collecting data to inform prediction of vegetation community composition changes under climate change scenarios.

Newly arrived Supply Officer Dom spent this week out in the field completing field familiarisation training. Dom already has big plans under way for streamlining and organising the Macca stores, right after he recovers from his four day hike with FTO Ian.

The whole community turned out for the annual 'weaner wade' last week. With spotters on the lookout for rogue waves and large marine mammals, and lifeguards in place, we all donned dry suits and entered knee deep into the water as the weaner elephant seals went for their evening dip. With most of their lives to date being spent on land, they are now starting to explore their aquatic environment, and are very curious. It was a pleasure to see these creatures who appear so clumsy on land, gliding effortlessly in the shallows.

Chef Jimmy has been out and about completing his whole of island hut supplies stocktake. Our huts are resupplied by helicopter with pre-packed pods of food each year in April. Having fully stocked huts negates the need for expeditioners to carry out food from station, and helps keep our loads lighter!

Early this week our plumber, Ben, led a team to Gadgets Gully for the annual dam de-silting. Our water supply is comprised of a small weir which collects surface water from the plateau, and conveys it to station via a water main to our storage tanks where it is treated by filtration, chlorination and UV. Throughout the season the dam slowly fills with sediment which builds up in the shallow pond around the intake structure. Ben, Nick, Robbie, Terry, and Paul all spent the morning in pouring rain and heavy winds to dig the silt out of our water supply - a great team effort on an exceptionally wet Macca day.

This week we also experienced the largest swells on the east coast of the season. The swell was actually from the northeast, but was wrapping around the northern head of the island to produce these spectacular waves. It did not seem to bother the penguins and weaners, who proceeded to head in and out of the water, albeit with the odd spectacular wipe out!

A timelapse of the annual damn de-silting

Breaking wave
Surf on the east coast
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
Breaking wave
Not a good day for boating!
(Photo: Lionel Whitehorn)
Ben opening a valve at the dam
Ben at the dam
(Photo: Paul Helleman)
Robbie, Terry and Nick clearing the silt using shovels in the dam
Robbie, Terry and Nick clearing the silt in the dam
(Photo: Paul Helleman)