This week at the station
This week at Macquarie Island: 1 February 2013
Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project
All hunters arrived back to station on Tuesday after another full month of walking every inch of the island. It was a successful month for the team despite having to battle many poor weather days but despite all this they have settled into the comforts of station life almost immediately and it's great to have them back.
The team will remain on station for a week then head down the island for the last month of hunting. The next time they are back on station their bags will be packed as they head home on the Aurora Australis. 12 months hunting - an awesome achievement by the hunting team.
The photos below were taken during the month of December.
Macquarie Island Rangers
This week’s been a week of contrast in weather and its impact on wildlife around the island. The early part of the week was particularly stormy with strong winds, rain and high seas with water crossing the isthmus on station. This was followed up by a couple of perfect days with no cloud, warm temperatures (about 9.8°C) and light winds.
Many of the penguins and seals at Macquarie Island haul out on the beaches to moult at this time of the year, as well as other birds nesting on the beaches. When the big seas arrive the waves come up high on the shoreline dumping incredible amounts of kelp and many of these animals are displaced at a time when they can’t afford to go to sea. It’s unclear how many of these animals are merely displaced and how many don’t survive as they are difficult events to monitor.
On the other hand, later in the week when the weather improved many penguin chicks could be seen hatching out, taking their first steps, with other adults courting and mating. Staff at the station took the opportunity to soak up the good weather as well, witnessing an Aurora display followed up by a beautiful sunrise.
The start of this week saw a science personnel change over. Sadly we had to farewell Simon and Bruce but were happy to welcome four new team members, Brian, Laura, Nic and Jenny who were very excited to finally land on the kelp rich shores of Macquarie Island. A big effort from many on station saw them welcomed, fed, inducted, kitted and out in the field for their field familiarisation in less than 24 hours. Brian and Laura will be investigating the invasive grass species Poa Annua, while Nic and Jenny will be conducting vegetation impact studies as part of the eradication program.
With the last couple of cores collected this week the annual soil sampling component of the remediation program has come to a close. The soil will be sent back to Kingston for further analysis to determine the residual TPH contamination along with physical, chemical and nutrient analysis of the soil. Additional soil samples were also collected as part of a 4 year study to tract the microbial dynamics within the contaminated soils in response to the bioremediation program. In previous experiments on the island the bacterial community has responded to petroleum hydrocarbon contamination with a loss of diversity and a loss of important nutrient cycling potential. It is hoped that a decrease in fuel concentration in the soil as a result of the bioremediation will coincide with a return to a bacterial community characteristic of clean soils, including greater diversity and a more evenly distributed species composition. The DNA will be extracted from the soil at the University of New South Wales and used as a template to obtain an average of 1500-2000 bacterial sequences per sample with high throughput sequencing platforms. Functional genes will also be quantified to determine how healthy the soils are, in particular, we will target key enzymatic steps within the Nitrogen cycle. Additional soil samples will also allow the correlation between petroleum contamination and invertebrates to continue at Macquarie University. Josie van Dorst
Also included, a few photographs of black browed albatross taken by Anna whilst recording their movements and nest locations
Although our focus is on finalising our work and science programs before we head home, and getting ourselves organised for resupply operations -less than 2 months away, we do stop now and then for some R & R and a few giggles.
Last week we had quite a few of the team out in the field for both work and recreation trips and we also celebrated Australia Day with a typical Aussie BBQ.