Seabird monitoring

Since arriving in November, Susan and Julie have had the amazing opportunity to work with the Adelie and Emperor Penguins and Snow Petrels. The majority of our work is out at Bechervaise Island which is 2km from station, however we have also been carrying out counts of Adelie penguins at colonies near and far. These counts are carried out annually at some islands, or every 4-5 years at others, to monitor changes in population numbers in east Antarctica as part of the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program. Another recent activity was the attachment of 15 GPS trackers to see where the penguins are foraging during the breeding season.

The Adelie penguins are all diligently incubating eggs at the moment. Although stone thievery is still rife, the colonies are much quieter than earlier in the season, with only single birds at each nest while their partner is out foraging at sea. This week also saw the first chicks start to hatch.

Out on Bechervaise Island we have just begun monitoring the snow petrel breeding success, which involves regular nest checks to see how they are all fairing. At the moment, birds have returned fat and ready to lay eggs, with most snow petrel homes now featuring the essential white goods. Snow petrels also breed in the mountains, so our petrel sniffing has made us high this week as we venture out to the peaks around Mawson.

Julie McInnes