This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 8 February 2013

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

After a busy week on station (recreational and work) the hunters deployed into the field for the last time. While on station they were able to participate in the combined Australia and Waitangi Day festivities and pack their personal gear into boxes ready to be sent home. This month the team have carefully coordinated a hunting trip around the island visiting and hunting their favourite locations prior to leaving the island early in March.

Fresh bread and scrolls on a table
A special Sunday bake at Waterfall Bay hut
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Freshly baked bread and scrolls displayed on the bench in the hut
Sunday brunch at Waterfall Bay hut
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Terrier dog looking at a skua bird
Tama saying hello to a skua
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Dog Tama with skua chick on the ground
Tama and a chick
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Map of the island terrain with red lines covering areas where expeditioner has walked
Lines indicate on Gazz's GPS where he has walked for part of…
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Expeditioner and his black labrador on a steel slope
Dave and Wags
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Expeditioner laying on the grass with his camera looking at the camera
Steve on his day off enjoying the sunshine
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Male and female expeditioner standing together on the ramp of the hut, clothes drying in the sun
Kelly and Cam
(Photo: Cameron Walker)


One of the regular tasks that the rangers and volunteers undertake is a marine debris survey at Bauer Bay on the west coast of the island. The prevailing westerly winds and currents constantly wash up lots of debris on the west coast. Throughout this area there are marine debris caches where staff pile up what they find. Much of it is too heavy or bulky to return to station in rucksacks so it’s cached in areas where it can be collected at a later date by helicopter or boat.

Marine debris is a problem for a variety of reasons. The two most apparent reasons at Macquarie Island are the unsightly look of rubbish piling up on an otherwise beautiful coastline and the seabirds that breed on the island ingesting the rubbish and either dying from ingestion related causes or feeding it to their chicks and the chicks dying of rubbish ingestion. Other problems are wildlife entanglement in fishing gear and contamination. During last winter a fur seal was caught entangled in monofilament, the line was removed and the animal released.

Documenting the extent of the marine debris is the first step in attempting to manage the problem. Each month a group of rangers and station staff travel the short distance to Bauer Bay, conduct a line search of the beach picking up all of the debris in a set area over approximately three hours. The rubbish is then taken back to the hut, sorted into categories, counted, tallied up on a sheet and entered into a database. Often the search is conducted in extremely windy or rainy/snowy conditions which can be quite chilling after a couple of hours combing the beach but this week, we were lucky enough to have bright sunshine all day.

In January we collected 913 items including 665 pieces of twine used in a type of long-line fishing that is used by foreign countries. Unfortunately this is the most in the last year but short of the record number of 1232 pieces collected in August 2010. The record number of pieces of twine is 762 collected in October 2011. 20,839 items of rubbish have been collected since 2005.

Parks and Wildlife are hoping to get three years of data analysed by the University of Tasmania to demonstrate the extent of the problem with a view to assist ongoing clean up and a change to practices that see so much rubbish discarded in the marine environment.

It’s not all hard work though as we try and make it a bit of a social occasion with a cook-up afterwards, a few drinks, a bit of friendly banter and a game of 500. Many thanks to all of the AAD and BOM staff that have volunteered their time to conduct this survey throughout 2012-13.

Expeditioners on the beach forming a line
Starting the line search of the beach
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioner dressed in yellow jacket stops to let two royal penguins pass
Chris pauses to let some of the locals through
(Photo: Paul Black)
Two expeditioners on the beach collecting rubbish with a few penguins watching
Anna, Chris and some of the locals (royal penguins)
(Photo: Paul Black)
Photo of the beach, dark sand and ocean with the sun shining
Beautiful Bauer Bay on a rare sunny day
(Photo: Paul Black)
Green string sitting on the sand
Green twine used in the long line fishing industry
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioner in blue jacket holding a drum seal in her hand
Jaimie with a drum seal
(Photo: Paul Black)
Small white plastic bag on the sand
A radish bag
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioner on the beach holding up a drink bottle
Anna with a commonly found drink bottle
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioner on the beach holding a large knotted old rope
Paul with a tangle of rope
(Photo: Paul Black)
Female expeditioner wearing a red and white owl outfit standing amongst the rocks
Lauren bags some twine amongst the rocks
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioner standing in the middle of large mound of kelp in the beach
Chris picks out twine among the kelp
(Photo: Paul Black)
Four expeditioners standing next to all the rubbish they collected on the beach
The results of a two and a half hour collection of marine…
(Photo: Paul Black)
Expeditioners in a hut picking up the rubbish they found on the beach
Sorting the debris into categories in the hut
(Photo: Paul Black)
Four expeditioners in a hut with a large pile of rubbish collected from the beach
The final sorted collection: 913 items with 665 pieces of green twine
(Photo: Paul Black)

Combined Australia and Waitangi Day celebrations

The Macca team decided to postpone Australia Day until the hunters were back on station at the end of the month. As Waitangi Day is observed each year on 6 February, both national days were combined and celebrated in true New Zealand and Aussie style.

The day started off with an early morning swim starting on the west coast. The team had to make their way through smelly mounds of kelp then it was over to the east coast where the water was a little cleaner and calmer. After a good outdoor shower to wash off any remaining kelp goo, the team enjoyed time in the spa before making their way to the mess for a cooked brunch.

After brunch the games began. Four teams competed for the big prizes. The games consisted of ‘toss the mud pie’ using a shovel, toss the rubber boot, toss the phone, fastest Tim Tam and dry Weet-Bix eating team. A BBQ followed later in the evening and so did an unplanned game of beach rugby.

We were all winners!

15 expeditioners in crazy costumes lined up to run into the water
Aust and Waitangi day swim
Expeditioner wearing an Australian hat in the shape of a beer mug
Narelle as the official race starter
Nine runners coming out of the water, running between large kelp beds
Swimmers dodging the smelly kelp beds
Three expeditioners posing for the camera, one with a life bouy around his waist
Al, Steve and Brian after the swim
12 expeditioners sitting in the spa looking at the camera
In the spa after the swim
Expeditioner throwing a boot into the air
Grant tossing the boot
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Expeditioner with a mud pie on a shovel ready to throw it some distance. Group of people looking on
Stu tossing the mud pie
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Close-up of two females pretending to eat mud pies
Kelly and Anna about to eat one of the mud pies
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Expeditioner getting ready to throw a phone, old building in background
Greg tossing the phone
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Eight expeditioners in an office looking towards a TV screen, all very excited
Australia Day award winner Lauren (centre back row) receiving the good news
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Two teams of expeditioners playing soccer on the sand, in front of station buildings
Australia and Waitangi Day soccer game
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Expeditioners sitting at the table lined up ready to eat Weet-Bix in a competition
Dry Weet-Bix eating competition
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Group of expeditioners lined up on both sides of a long table to eat tim tams
Tim Tam eating competition
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Expeditioners in two teams tackling each other to get to the ball
Game of rugby on the beach
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)


All creatures, great and small

Five king penguins following each other in single file
A line of kings
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
King penguin on its own standing high on a hill with the ocean and station in the background
King penguin at Gadgets Gully
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Large number of king penguins on the beach with ocean in the background
King penguins nesting
(Photo: Corrine de Mestre)
Two penguins look like they are singing, leaning into each other
Two happy rockhoppers
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Small fur seal asleep on top of a moss covered rock
A sleepy fur seal
(Photo: John Cadden)
Fur seal high on a rock, ocean in background
Fur seal enjoying the sunshine
(Photo: John Cadden)
Close up of an elephant seal shedding it's fur on the beach
Moulting elephant seals on the east coast
(Photo: John Cadden)
Chck moulting in a way that it looks like it's wearing a fur coat
King penguin chick moulting
(Photo: lauren Koehler)
Grey/brown skua bird looking over thousands of royal penguins
Skua keeping a watchful eye over royal penguins
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Ten elephant seals crowded in a large smelly mud pit
Elephant seals in a smelly wallow
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)


Small thorny red plant
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Green large leaf megaherb
Macquarie Island cabbage
(Photo: Dave Seelye)
Sturdy silver green megaherb with flower in centre - pleurophyllum hookeri
Pleurophyllum hookeri
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Boardwalk surrounded by recovering vegetation
Wind-pruned vegetation on North Head
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
View from top of mountain down the east coast, flowering megaherbs
Flowering megaherbs on North Head
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
View from top of mountain down the east coast, flowering megaherbs
View of recovering megaherbs, North Head
(Photo: Karen Andrew)