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.

Expeditioner walking along the coast with Royal penguins in the foreground
Kelly working on the east coast
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Sitting side by side two king penguins and two dogs
Line up fellas! King penguins, Joker and Flax
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
White labrador drinking from a puddle
Flax feeling a little thristy
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Female expeditioner instructs male hunter how to knit in a hut
Karen teaching Steve to knit
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Male expeditioner wearing a concerned look on his face finding it hard to learn to knit
Knitting does NOT come easy to Steve
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Bare legs from the knees to the feet looking a normal colour
Legs of a hunter before heading out for the day
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Photo of legs from the knees down looking very red and sore
Legs of a hunter after walking 25km over rough terrain
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Female expeditioner modeling black thermal trousers and top in a hut
Kelly drenched from head to toe after the outdoor shower failed
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Expeditioner hunting along a slope
Kelly hunting
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Two dogs in the foreground a grey/brown albatross sitting behind them
Tama, Wags and a light-mantled sooty albatross
(Photo: Dave Seelye)

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. 

Paul Black

Very high tide on the beach, big waves, and lots of kelp washed up
High seas at Sandy Bay
(Photo: Paul Black)
Large waves washing up covering the entire sandy beach
High seas cover the beach
(Photo: Paul Black)
Big waves washing up on beach and penguins trying to get to higher ground
King penguins and Ranger swimming amongst the tussock grass at Sandy Bay
(Photo: Paul Black)
King penguins getting washed along by the big waves on the beach
King penguins ride the high, high tide
(Photo: Paul Black)
Lonely looking chick grey in colour
Displaced Macquarie Island cormorant chick
(Photo: Maria Tomasi)
King penguins looking at their eggs as some are hatching
King penguin chick hatching at Gadgets Gully
(Photo: Paul Black)
Close-up of a king penguin looking down on its chick
A very proud king penguin with its chick
(Photo: Paul Black)
King penguin on top of another king penguin
King Penguins mating at Gadgets Gully
(Photo: Paul Black)
Two expeditioners standing waiting for people to arrive
Lauren and Narelle 'station guides' waiting for the tourists to arrive
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)


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

Close up of an albatross in nest with it's chick
Black browed albatross with chick
(Photo: Anna Lashko)
Close up of albatross in nest with chick
Black-browed albatross with chick
(Photo: Anna Lashko)
Close up of an albatross chick - very fluffy and grey
Black-browed albatross chick
(Photo: Anna Lashko)
Expeditioner in a hole with a tape measure
Josie JVD sampling
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)
Two expeditioners lying on the ground heads together stretching
Al and Grant stretching after digging numerous holes
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)
People in inflatable boats on the beach, lots of kelp on the beach
Jennie, Nick, Laura and Brian finally join the Macca team
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)
Expeditioners in inflatable boats ready to depart the beach with others looking on
Pete, Jane, Simon and Bruce departing Macca
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)
Two inflatable boats departing the beach heading towards a large white ocean cruiser
Four expeditioners about to board the Orion for home
(Photo: Josie van Dorst)


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. 

Expeditioners sitting with their backs against a wall high on a hill looking at the views and enjoying a few drinks
Afternoon gathering at the Hamshack admiring the views
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Expeditioner walking with a back pack and walking poles along a sandy hill
Grant on his way to Green Gorge
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
View looking down on stationa and the isthmus
Sunrise over station, view from North Head
(Photo: Paul Black)
Two expeditioners looking very cheeky like farmers in front of their tractor
Farmers Al and Grant alongside their machinery
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Close up of three expeditioners posing for the camera
Josie, Corrine and Cadd celebrating Australia Day
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Team photo of 20 expeditioners looking towards the camera
Sharing the love on Australia Day
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Sun setting over the satellite dome
Sun sets over the station
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)


Close up of a king penguin looking down on it's chick
King penguin and its chick
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Close up photo of top half of king penguin with ocean in background
King penguin
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Close up of a rockhopper penguins face
Rockhopper penguin
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Six rockhopper chicks (black and white) standing close together
Rockhopper chicks
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Close up photo of 4 grey fluffy petrel chicks on the grass
Southern giant petrel chicks
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Four royal penguins lined up in a row
Royal penguins
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Royal penguin with a bite taken out of his belly, lots of blood but still standing
One lucky guy
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Close up of a fluffy brown king penguin chick
King penguin chick
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Adult rockhopper penguins looking over five chicks
Rockhopper adult and chicks
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Young ele seal pops its head up in front of the camera
A friendly ele seal
(Photo: Dana Boyte)


Stunning view from the plateau with the station in the background
View back to station from Doctors track
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Type of plant that sticks to your clothes, photos shows them in abundance
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Small brown mushroom amongst green grass
Macquarie Island mushroom
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Sunset views down the island, two rock stacks in background
Sunset down the east coast
(Photo: Corrine de Metre)
Ocean view with a large rock stack in background
Anchor Rock, view from station
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
View of plateau down to the ocean, rolling green hills
Brothers Point on the coast
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
View of a tourist vessel out at sea  light blue water and green hills
Tourist vessel anchored on the east coast
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Bright orange and red sunset over a lake and hills
Stunning sunset on the plateau
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)