This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 13 June 2014

World Environment Day at Macca

World Environment Day (June 5th) was commemorated on Macca this year with a series of small activities being coordinated across the island. The small station team means that only a handful of people at a time are able to leave the station at any one time.

TasPaWS wildlife ranger Mike Fawcett coordinated the first task at Green Gorge, working alongside a small group of willing volunteers to start to remove some of the old wire netting associated with the rabbit grazing exclosures. These wire netting exclosures were erected around ten years ago in order to protect a large number of small vegetation plots around the island from being grazed by rabbits. Benny (station chef), Evelyn (BOM weather observer) and Meg (station doctor) all took time out of their normal day to do a bit for World Environment Day. The rate of vegetation regeneration occurring on the island now means that some sites and plots are disappearing under the tussock grass. The rusted wire netting and steel pickets hidden in the grass has potential to harm wildlife. Now that the rabbits are gone, the plot fences have become obsolete. Many of the plots are located in grassy slopes and areas that are potential habitat for burrowing sea birds known to breed on the island. Those plots close to the beach are also potentially hazardous to elephant seals.

The wire and pickets removed in the Green Gorge area were carried back to the hut and will be retrieved from the caches by helicopter during next resupply. Special thanks to Evelyn and Dr Meg for taking the photos of the team working at Green Gorge. Not to be outdone, TasPaWS ranger in charge Chris and station leader Ivor worked on a similar task closer to the station and were able to remove three plots in that area – every bit helps.

There are approximately 40-45 of these type of plots recorded on Macca. Plots were erected for a range of different ecological monitoring projects on island, but primary focus of all fenced enclosures was to prevent damage to sites by rabbit grazing.

Plots contain potentially valuable vegetation data so once steel pickets and netting have been removed, plots are being marked with PVC conduit, allowing scientists to easily identify plot boundaries into the future.

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger in Charge, Chris

Ranger stands beside wire netting exclosure
TasPaWS ranger Mike starts the job at the first exclosure plot
(Photo: Meg McKeown)
Two expeditioners trying to roll up old netting
Benny and Mike wrangling the old wire netting
(Photo: Meg Kckeown)
Expeditioner carrying large roll of old wire netting
Benny doing the hard labour
(Photo: Meg McKeown)
Two expeditioners pulling out stakes and wire
Cooperation at plot number two
(Photo: Meg McKeown)
Field hut surrounded by tussock grass
Picturesque Green Gorge hut surrounded by lush recovered tussock grass
(Photo: Meg McKeown)
Expeditioner removing wire netting
Meg hard at work
(Photo: Evelyn Sandoval)
Exclosure plot with short tussock grass surrounding it
Razorback walkway exclosure plot, January 2012
(Photo: Chris Howard)
exclosure plot surrounded by lush tussock grass
Razorback walkway exclosure plot, May 2014
(Photo: Chris Howard)

Boating induction day

Normally we walk everywhere on Macca, but on the relatively few lighter wind days, we can put our three zodiac inflatable rubber boats into the water. This is done mainly for logistical tasks such as field hut resupply, moving track maintenance building materials, and scientific support tasks. We currently have three qualified coxswains on station (diesel mechanic Pete, field training officer Ian, and ranger in charge Chris), and most of the rest of us completed a four day competent boat crew course at Kettering during pre-departure training. As a preliminary boating operation, our station group conducted our station boating induction day last week to familiarise us with boating operations at Macca. The focus was on launch and recovery procedures, on and off trailers in the water, which is necessitated by the fact that we don't have a proper boat ramp.
Boat being launched off trailer into water
Boat launching at Macca using the tractor, towing arm extender, and trailer…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Keon, Ian and Greg in the IRB
Keon, Ian and Greg in the IRB
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Station and North Head from the IRB
Station and North Head from the IRB
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Boat recovery 1: trailer is backed into the water
Boat recovery one: trailer is backed into the water
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Boat recovery 2: drive boat onto trailer and tow trailer out
Boat recovery two: drive boat onto trailer and tow trailer out
(Photo: Ivor Harris)

Jobs on and off station

TasPaWS ranger in charge Chris is undertaking the important task of storing and conserving the valuable historic artefacts on the island for later display purposes to the tourists who visit Macca. These artefacts include a number of large try pots, which were used in the 1860-1890 period to extract oil from elephant seal blubber. These had been stored for many years out in the open at station, and were deteriorating. Last week Chris recovered them to an indoor museum/display area under development, with assistance from Pete. Chris will now be conserving them to prevent further deterioration.

Supervising communications technician Scotty has been engaged with maintenance and repair tasks on the scientific tide gauges near station, while chef Benny has been producing his accustomed spectacular dishes. Last Saturday night this was a "turducken", which comprises three quail inside a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey! Keon celebrated by scoring a triple bull at our after-dinner darts match.

Chris applies lifting straps to a historic trypot to recoverfor conservation and display
Chris applies lifting straps to a historic try pot to recover for…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Pete lifts the trypot out with the JCB Loadall lifter
Pete lifts the try pot out with the JCB Loadall lifter
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Pete lifts the trypot out with the JCB Loadall lifter.
Scotty working on the tide gauges near station
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Chef carves big turkey
Benny carves the "turducken"
(Photo: Keon Stevenson)
Keon with triple darts bull's eye
That's how it's done! Keon's triple bull! (note: static electricity charge to…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)