This week at Mawson: 10 March 2017

Some search and rescue training at Henderson Hut provided the added bonus of seeing an aurora australis, while chilled out Weddell seals appear to enjoy moulting in the sun.

Beyond station limits

This week, Heidi our winter field training officer led a group of experienced Antarctic expeditioners on a search and rescue (SAR) training field trip to Henderson Hut.

During sunny weather conditions, the interim emergency response team familiarised themselves with the icy plateau and driving the SAR Hägg on the routes and waypoints to and from the station. They will form the SAR team until all winter expeditioners have been trained in responding to a SAR incident.

Three expeditioners stand on an icy plateau in front of an orange search and rescue equipped Hägglunds vehicle
Mark, Doug and Heidi on the plateau with the search and rescue…
(Photo: Mark Austin)
a man in a yellow snow suit stands on a mountain
Doug on the plateau behind Mawson station participating in field training.
(Photo: Mark Austin)

Friendly neighbours

While the Adélie penguins can be noisy (and quite grumpy) during moulting season, our other permanent residents the Weddell seals are much more placid and sedentary.

Mawson is currently home to dozens of resting and moulting Weddell seals hauling on the ice around station. The Weddell seal can grow to three metres long and weigh 400-500 kilograms.

As we go about our daily business on station, they don’t seem to mind sharing their home with us or having their photo taken in a variety of reclining positions.

At the moment we mostly have male seals on station, but we look forward to greeting the females with their pups around October later this year.

a large grey and black spotted Weddell seal lays on the sea ice
A Weddell seal resting near East Arm at Mawson station.
(Photo: Kat Panjari)
four grey and black Weddell seals lay in a row on the ice at Mawson
A gathering of moulting Weddell seals.
(Photo: Mark Austin)

Sleeping under the stars

Our first group of winter expeditioners also went beyond station limits when they set off for an overnight survival training field trip this week. Sleeping in a bivvy bag on the icy plateau overnight can be a cold and uncomfortable experience but excellent training for emergency situations that can occur in Antarctica.

When Heidi took Eddie, Alex, Benny and Leon out for a night of sleeping under the stars near Henderson’s Hut, they got more than they bargained for – a night of sleeping under an aurora filled sky, snapped here from a bivvy bag!

A man kneeling down by a quad bike setting up a bivvy
Benny setting up a quad bike bivvy bag.
(Photo: Eddie Gault)
an orange sunset behind Mt Henderson
The sunset view from a bivvy bag.
(Photo: Leon Hamilton)
Three men and one woman wearing warm clothing are having a tea break in a small hut
Expeditioners having a break during training at Henderson's Hut.
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
Some expeditioners standing outside a hut looking for a good spot to put up a bivvy bag.
Finding the right spot for a bivvy bag at Henderson's Hut.
(Photo: Eddie Gault)
A fluorescent green haze against a black and grey sky
An Aurora snapped from inside a bivvy bag.
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
a faint green fluorescent line appears against a dark blue sky
The night sky at Henderson's Hut.
(Photo: Leon Hamilton)