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.

The scene is of three kennels (made from drums)  mostly buried in deep snow.  Ange and a couple of the dogs digging out the snow from the kennels at Eitel hut
Digging out the snow from the kennels at Eitel hut
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
A small metal hook poking out of the deep snow is all that can be seen of the metal cage pallet. In the background is a black plastic  rectangular pod half buried in the snow
All that can be seen of the metal cage pallet
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Ange standing on the snow near the exposed metal hook of the cage pallet she is about to dig out. Eitel hut, a converted water tank, is in the background
Ange preparing to excavate
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Ange, kneeling on the deep snow, about to start digging
Ange commences digging
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Ange's digging into the deep snow covering the cage pallet, whilst being supervised by Finn, the labrador, who is standing beside the hole
Ange's digging being supervised by Finn
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Ange standing in the hole she has dug in the snow in the cage pallet
Ange in the cage pallet
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Cody, the terrier, digging out the snow in the cage pallet
Cody the excavator
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Flax and Finn supervising Cody. While Cody (the terrier) digs out snow in the cage pallet, the two labradors Flax and Finn look on from above the hole
Flax and Finn supervising Cody
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Flax and Finn, both with their snouts into a steel bowl, share a drink after a hard day of supervising
Flax and Finn share a drink after a hard day of supervising
(Photo: Karen Andrew)

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.
Aaron sitting on a large fishing float which is next to a big bag and a large metal drum which is all part of a cache of marine debris established at Sellick Bay in 2012
Aaron afloat. An existing cache established in 2012 is added to by…
(Photo: Chris Howard)
Shows a piece of timber, believed to be part of a spar associated with one of the many shipwrecks around the island. The spar has a rusted 'collar' at one end and a thick rope next to it
Marine debris tangled in Spar. The piece of timber seen here is…
(Photo: Chris Howard)
More heritage material.  When is rubbish not rubbish? This piece of timber was located at the high tide mark north of Bauer Bay.  The clues to itís possible historic significance are the copper nails and remains of copper sheeting.  These materials were commonly used in the construction of older style sailing ships.
When is rubbish not rubbish? This piece of timber was located at…
(Photo: Chris Howard)
Bauer Bay marine debris clean up: Chris showing Clive the area we are to work in. They are standing on a wide expanse of the beach with the distant hills in the background shrouded in mist and cloud
Bauer Bay marine debris clean up: Chris showing Clive the area we…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Chris and Clive, each carrying a black plastic rubbish bag,  picking up marine debris from the wide expnse of Bauer Bay beach
Chris and Clive picking up marine debris from the wide expnse of…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Clive picking up marine debris amongst the rocky outcrops in the Boiler Rocks area just north of Bauer Bay. The West Coast 'featherbed' and rugged island slopes can be seen in the distant background
Picking up marine debris in the Boiler Rocks area just north of…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Chris, Barry and Clive squat behind the four bags of marine debris, which includes six fishing floats over various colours and sizes. This was all picked up from Bauer Bay and Boiler Rocks coast
The marine debris picked up from Bauer Bay and Boiler Rocks coast
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Clive and Chris in the small cold porch of Bauer Bay hut, sorting through the bag of marine debris, for ease of collating and counting. The green fishing twine has been separated and is in a small pile beside the bag
Sorting the marine debris for counting and collating
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Clive standing next to a block of styrofoam that was found at Eagle Bay and measures approximately 1 metre by 1 metre by 0.75 metre. The block was cached with other marine debris amongst the tussock above the high tide mark
At Eagle Bay - one piece we couldn't bring back
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A collection of marine debris spread out on the ground. It includes plastic bottles, various pieces of hard and soft plastic and some lengths of green fishing twine. It was found on the walk back from Bauer Bay to the station
Marine debris found on the way back from Bauer Bay to station
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)

Macca gallery

This week we have another stunning array of photos from around Macquarie Island.
Travellers - footprints in the snow, human and giant petrel side by side
(Photo: Chris Howard)
Shows two elephant seals jousting on the isthmus with another two fighting just behind the first pair. The rugged snow covered slopes provide a contrasting backdrop
Elephant seals on the isthmus
(Photo: Chris Howard)
West Coast - shows a beautiful little tarn amongst the vivid green shades of vegetation and the orange tinged lichen covering rocks. The ocean surf and the mist shrouded hills are in the distant background
West Coast
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
Elephant seal skeleton - the photo was taken inside the rib cage and shows the spine on the left and the green hills through the gaps
Ele Seal skeleton
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
Cape Star in the distance seen from an elevated site across the waters of South Precarious Bay and Star Bay
Cape Star - southern west coast
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
Green Gorge Light - looking over the ocean at crepuscular rays poking through the cloud while the surf breaks over the rocks in the centre foreground with a silhouette of a bird on the spray
Green Gorge Light
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
The snow covered slopes behind Langdon Bay. In the foreground is the beach followed by an area of tussock and several gentoo penguins
The snow covered slopes behind Langdon Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
From a distance Bauer Bay hut looks small in the left corner against the snow covered slopes to the south
Bauer Bay hut
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
West Coast - small rock island on Duck Lagoon that is covered with lichen, cushion plants and a tuft of grass. The rock is surrounded by  patches of ice
West Coast - garden rock on Duck Lagoon
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Sunset over Hasselborough Bay - the vivid shades of orange, yellow and purple are reflected on the beach and in the ocean. A silhouette of a bird can be seen in the top of the picture
Sunset over Hasselborough Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)