Scientists afloat study invertebrate life and a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Casey from the Basler.

Marine Science at Casey

The marine team of Cath King, Jane Wasley, Ashley Cooper, Patti Virtue, Nick Alexander, Ashley Miskelly, Peter Harrison, Kathryn Brown, and boating officer, Dave Pryce, have had a busy summer collecting an array of live invertebrates for experiments here at Casey, and to stock cultures in the new marine research aquarium facilities at Kingston.

The team have successfully employed a variety of collecting methods from the inflatable boats including dip netting, sediment scoops, bait traps, sediment grabs, intertidal rock collections and plankton tows in waters ranging between the Swain Group of islands and Browning Peninsula.

Invertebrates collected have included a variety of species of crustaceans (amphipods, isopods, tanaids and cumaceans), worms (polychaetes and nemerteans), molluscs (microgastropods) and echinoderms (brittle stars, sea stars and sea urchins).

So far, the team have successfully returned to Australia live invertebrates on two A319 flights. The invertebrates are reported by Rob King and Paul Armstrong to be happily living in their new home at Kingston! The new marine research aquarium facilities will enable scientists both at the AAD and in external collaborating institutes and universities to work on live Antarctic invertebrates year round.

Famil flight over the Casey area

Every now and then, you find yourself in the right place at the right time. When this happens, you grab the opportunity with both hands! This was the case for me a week ago when I was given a seat on a flight over the Vanderford Glacier, and Casey operating area. The flight was being conducted as an area familiarity for the station leader, and the AAD director.

We departed Casey skiway Friday evening in a Twin Otter aircraft with cameras at the ready, and we were not disappointed. 300 meter ice cliffs in the high evening sun, gold reflecting water and crevasses that would swallow the entire Red shed.

Heading south west along the front of the glacier face, we found burgs with truck-sized boulders, endless caverns and pools of brilliant blue water on top of them. A couple of seals were spotted but nobody could identify what type they were as we were too far above the ice.

Small islands created a bottle neck for large burgs that end up all bunched together in a chaotic mess of bright white and deep blues and greens.

After about an hour we turned back to the north and completed a fly-by of Casey station, which provided us with a unique view of our home, seldom seen by many expeditioners. A quick burst of throttle got us back up over the hill to the ski way and back on the ground.

Spectacular place and we thank the crew for taking us up to see it, and the opportunity that was provided to just a lucky few.

Mike Kennard