More icebergs surround Macquarie Island

One of the icebergs around Macquarie Island
One of the icebergs around Macquarie Island (Photo: Susan Ferguson)
Iceberg at Bauer Bay off the west coast of Macquarie IslandScientist Susan Ferguson with icebergIceberg at Buckles Bay on the west side of the island Iceberg at Buckles Bay on the east side of the island

13 November 2009

A large mass of icebergs is drifting north from Antarctica, past the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

In the past 24 hours at least four icebergs have been spotted off the east and west coasts of the island, ranging in size from 50 metres up to an estimated two kilometres in length.

This follows a recent sighting of a 500 metre long iceberg late last week.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist, Neal Young, said it looks like there are at least 50 icebergs in the region around the island.

"From satellite images we can see there is a whole group of icebergs, roughly spread over an area of 1,000 kilometres by 700 kilometres, moving with the ocean current away from Antarctica," Dr Young said.

"The larger icebergs seen from Macquarie Island are tabular in shape, which indicates they have calved relatively recently, probably from one of the massive icebergs which originally calved from the Ross Ice Shelf nearly 9 years ago," he said.

The Acting Station Leader on Macquarie Island, Cyril Munro, said it has been an exciting week for the expeditioners.

"Everyone on station has their eyes glued to the horizon trying to spot new icebergs," Mr Munro said.

"The scientists working on the southern tip of the island were astounded to see an iceberg of about two kilometres in length," he said

The icebergs are likely to continue heading to the north and east in the general direction of New Zealand.