This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 17 January 2014

Sunday afternoon

A quick walk around station to stretch the legs soon turned into a four hour photo shoot, as many of the changes brought on by the summer melt started to become apparent. We have had a couple of weeks of light winds and positive temperatures which have resulted in some vast changes to the face of the station.

Melt water from rapidly shrinking blizz tails is streaming down the rocks towards the harbour, making sounds more akin to those we hear at home after heavy rain or when walking alongside a shallow running creek. And as the snow and ice succumbs to the constant warmth provided by the never setting sun, a different landscape is slowly being revealed.

Ice is replaced by bare rock and in the fissures and gutters where the water flows, mosses and lichens of various colours burst into life, the blanket of snow that provided them with shelter during the harsh winter will now sustain them throughout the short summer.

The warmer weather and ocean temperatures has also turned the once rock solid sea ice around the eastern shores of Horseshoe Harbour into more of a broken up network of floes, drifting back and forth with the tides, captured between the fast ice and shore, the open water between the floes. This provides easy access for the seals and penguins to haul out onto the ice or just stop and replenish their oxygen supply when out fishing for food. Their numbers around station are sure to increase as more ice breaks up and their food supply becomes more abundant.

As it turned out, a good Sunday to start with, finished up being an extraordinary one, highlighting that wherever you are there is plenty to see just outside the door, so take a look.

Penguin breaks the surface
A solitary penguin breaks the surface
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Moss beds appear from beneath their protective winter covers
Moss beds appear from beneath their protective winter covers
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Multiple types of moss and lichen
Multiple types of moss and lichen
(Photo: Peter Layt)
More moss and rocks with patches of ice
More Mawson moss
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Adelie with its head out of the water taking a breath before it dives
Hyperventilating before the dive
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Adelie about to dive, swimming at the surface
Going
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Adelie starting the dive with head underwater but body and tail  still above
Going
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Adelie diving with only feet and tail showing
Gone
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Adelie on ice floe
Chilling on the ice with a belly full of krill
(Photo: Peter Layt)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.