This week at the station
This week at Macquarie Island: 2 August 2013
Ange's archeological dig
On arrival at Eitel hut after a heavy slog through the snow from Green Gorge, and in desperate need for a cuppa, we found that the water was frozen and the stream that water is usually collected from was also frozen and covered in over a meter of snow drift.
So after first digging out the dog kennels which were filled with snow, and digging our way into the hut cold porch which was also filled with snow we set about the task of melting bucket after bucket of snow for cups of tea and coffee, showers (yes, we braved it!), cooking, washing up and dog drinking water.
One of the first tasks, once this was done, was to locate the rodent monitoring chew-sticks that were sent out with resupply. After a few cups of tea and a search in the cold porch without success, a search of both black food pods and the wooden MIPEP pod ensued… twice, though to no avail.
Several radio enquires later to Nancye and Steve about the probable location of the missing sticks, they came up with the answer that they should be in the metal cage pallet... only there was no cage pallet to be seen. Nancye was quite insistent that there was one to the north west of the hut but all that could be seen was piles of snow.
Later that night after venturing out to collect snow for what seemed to be the hundredth time a small piece of metal was uncovered, sticking out from the snow - the top of the cage pallet was found! However, it was completely buried under snow. We had both hiked out to Aurora Point that afternoon, picking a good path on hard packed snow, and we had been walking right over top of it!
The next day we woke to a fresh layer of snow, plus more snow inside the dog kennels. After our second cup of coffee we headed out to dig out the cage pallet in search of the bucket of chew sticks. Ange, armed with a shovel and an energetic small terrier and Karen, armed with a metal dog bowl (there was only one shovel) and two enthusiastic Labradors, began excavation work on the pod.
Finn the Labrador got off to a good start with the digging, uncovering the top of a fuel can, only to be distracted by all the fresh snow around for him to pee on. Ange created a huge hole and hit the jackpot - uncovering the elusive bucket of chew sticks. While we celebrated Cody, the terrier, decided he could do a better job at digging than his boss Ange and took over the excavation under the careful supervision of Finn and Flax (acting as the site supervisors), doubling the hole in half the time it took Ange.
Then, with the snow still falling we retreated back to the hut to continue our snow melting regime and warm up our frozen fingers and toes while waiting for the snow to abate.
World Environment Day - Macca style (better late then never)
Concerted efforts of expeditioners, combined with some guidance from Chris the Ranger, has seen a significant quantity of marine debris removed from a couple of west coast beaches. Aaron commented in a story last week on the activity down at Sellick Bay cleanup.
This was the first of two similar events aimed at, belatedly, commemorating World Environment Day (5th June). Station works programmes, fire rosters, duty rosters, the weather, opening times for Special Management Areas were all gently aligned to allow for the event to occur – better late than never.
This last week, saw the cleanup activity continue further north along the west coast near Bauer Bay. With the monthly Bauer Bay marine debris survey completed, Doctor Clive and BOM Barry redirected their enthusiasm to the next section of beach. The usual array of bottle tops, bits of hard plastic, green twine, plastic bottles, tangled coils of rope and fishing floats were recovered over the course of the afternoon, most of which was firmly lodged amongst the rocks above the high tide mark. A lack of day light at day’s end forced the enthusiastic garbage collectors back to a hut for the evening.
Recharged after a good night’s rest, a breakfast of numerous cups of tea and serves of home-made fruit loaf, the intrepid collectors set fourth again the next day towards Aurora Cave with more debris being collected.
The combined energies of all participants resulted in approximately four kilometres of coastline being cleaned up and more than one cubic metre of debris collected. Most important to note is the collective volunteer energies of those involved. Big thanks to Mark, Greg, Aaron, Clive and Barry – well done!The next challenge now emerges – picking up the rubbish from the beach is the easy part. For the remote beach sections, caches have been established for future retrieval via helicopter – that’s the hard part, but at least the debris is partially out of harm’s way.