This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 2 May 2014

ANZAC day at Macca

ANZAC Day was commemorated appropriately at Macquarie Island station. Like most Australian Antarctic Division station crews, our group contains a significant representation of past (and present) service people, and so this is a special day on station for many. It was raining at our appointed dawn service time of 0630, so we had our 'gunfire' breakfast and then settled for an indoors commemoration service. This included Graeme reading a moving letter from a Kokoda track veteran, Stan Bissett, which Graeme had received during his last stay at Mawson. The letter describes the death of Stan's brother "Butch" on the track and the loss of so many of his comrades. 
The Australian, New Zealand, and aboriginal flag are seen at half mast
Macca flags at half mast
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
Flags are in the distance with a view of Macca istmus
Macca flags on ANZAC Day morning
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The station group is seen in front of the flags at the mast head
Macca station group at the flag poles
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)

Walking to Bauer Bay for marine debris survey

Every month, the TASPARKS rangers conduct a beach walk at Bauer Bay to thoroughly collect all items of marine debris that have washed up on the beach. This debris is then collected and sorted to provide data on the actual types and quantities of marine debris in the Southern Ocean at these latitudes. This has been conducted now for quite a few years, and the resulting information now comprises a useful data set relating to this worrying problem.

Items collected range from small plastic particles, many lengths of discarded braided polypropylene long line from the long line fishing industry, plastic bottles, and larger items like buoys. This activity in turn provides a useful opportunity for other station people to walk to Bauer Bay and stay overnight to assist in the collection.

Last week, Benny, Evelyn and Ivor accompanied ranger in charge Chris, walking to Bauer Bay along the coastal track around the beautiful northwestern corner of the island, in order to assist Chris and Mike the following day. This track runs through the coastal featherbed country, where the walker passes over the "quaking bog" ground surface. This comprises a thin veneer of grass and vegetation over a mostly liquid layer of waterlogged peat. It almost always bears your weight, but ever so often you go through it and sink up to your knees or waist!

An expeditioner on the beach with a back pack full of track markers
TASPARKS ranger in charge Chris on the way to Bauer Bay, ready…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners crossing a creek
Benny and Evelyn crossing a coastal creek on the way to Bauer…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners walking along a creek line with rock stacks in the distance
Benny and Evelyn walking through rock stacks and featherbed country
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Evening beach scene with penguins on the beach
Evening beach scene at Bauer Bay
(Photo: Ivor Harris)

Rockhopper penguins

Of the four species of penguins breeding on Macquarie Island, many people's favourite is the attractive rockhopper penguin. As the name suggests, these penguins live and breed on and around steep, rocky slopes. There is a colony of fifty or so birds living on rock stacks immediately behind the station buildings in Garden Cove, and we are able to observe them and get good photos from the steps to "ham shack" hill close nearby, without disturbing the birds.

Rockhoppers breed during the summer, and at this time of year the now fully sized chicks are losing their fluffy down and replacing it with adult plumage, and the adult birds are moulting. Within the next week or two, they will leave us to spend the winter at sea before returning to breed again next spring.

Rockhopper peguin on a rocky outcrop
Rockhopper penguin
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
Rockhopper penguin showing plumage
Rockhopper penguin with characteristic crest feathers
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
Two rockhopper penguins
Rockhopper penguins
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
Moulting adult and chick mutually preening
Moulting rockhopper and chick preening each other
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two moulting rockhoppers
Two moulting rockhoppers
(Photo: Ivor Harris)

Auroras at Macca

Macquarie Island's subantarctic latitudes are supposed to be better for viewing the aurora australis than the Antarctic mainland. The problem is that we just don't get many clear nights. However, with the longer nights we are experiencing now, we're getting around one night a week when we can view auroras with perhaps a broken cloudy sky or rare completely cloudless sky (and no moon).

The keen aurora photographers amongst us are having a field day trying to get the elusive perfect aurora shot. Thanks Keon for these nice examples!

A large, bright aurora australis is seen hovering in the sky over a building on Macquarie Island
Aurora
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
A brilliant, bright aurora australis dances over station buildings
Aurora
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
A beautiful, bright aurora seemingly reaches out to a building at night on Macquarie Island
Aurora
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
A vertical aurora australis, similar in shape to a cone, hangs in the night sky
Aurora
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.