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.
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.
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!