30 May 2008
With plenty of sensational photographs taken at Auster Rookery over the past 2 weeks, we've decided to focus this week's Icy News station update on the Emperor Penguin Project.
With the help of all at Mawson station, Gary and Robyn have all but completed a successful sampling session of 100 adult emperor penguins.
The twelve days at Auster Rookery have been all go, racing against the breeding cycle as each day sees a trail of females, having entrusted their egg to the guardianship of their mate, leave the rookery to head out to sea, where they will remain foraging for around 65 days—the time it takes the egg to hatch.
With the sun rising after midday and setting by 3:30 pm, the work teams have made use of every available moment of daylight and twilight, and, despite temperatures in the mid-minus 20s, have kept warm and enjoyed a relatively good run of calm conditions.
With some of the larger male emperors weighing in at over 35 kilograms, Gary was forced to make an overnight dash back to station to sew in expansion gussets to his homemade penguin straitjacket. On return to Auster, the work team, led by Gary, quickly developed an efficient system of safely securing and transporting the birds to the RMIT van. There, the bird was weighed, sampled, and identified with a stripe of blue crayon to the belly feathers before being returned to the ice.
Today Robyn and Gary head back out to Auster with Andrew 'AJ' and Tony 'Boj', to sample their final seven penguins and complete the first stage of the project.