Casey’s last summer science project

Team Ferrari explore air eating bacteria

Just in the nick of time before the end of summer, four scientists arrived by air to conduct soil sampling across the Casey region as part of a project led by Associate Professor Belinda Ferrari from the University of New South Wales. The “Ferrari Team” consisted of Belinda, PhD student Eden Zhang, and AAD scientists Dr Dan Wilkins and Dr Cath King.

Following on from a recent Nature paper in which the team discovered air breathing bacteria from Antarctic soils in the Windmill Islands, samples were taken in 300 metre transects across three sites at Mitchell Peninsula, Robinsons Ridge and Browning Peninsula. We also managed to obtain aerial footage using a drone of the spectacular patterned grounds at Browning which will assist in data interpretation. This study was first initiated some 15 years ago at the same sites using the same sampling strategy to explore regional patterns in microbial biodiversity.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but with help from Field Training Officer Mark Raymond, the team now has all samples in hand, ready for departure on the last flight of the season. Once back home, the big task of sample processing will begin. The goal of this research is to understand how microbial communities change through time, and to determine the extent of the unique ‘breatharian’ bacteria in Antarctic soils.

Thanks to all on station for the support we have been given which enabled us to complete our field work at an incredibly busy time as all the summer projects wrap up. To the 2019 wintering team, we hope you have a wonderful year!

Getting to know a Casey expeditioner

Name: Peter 

From: Perth, Western Australia

Previous seasons? This is my first time in Antarctica.

Job title:  Plumber

Describe your role in two sentences: I’m part of a team that gets to see the water supply to the station, then clean up the end product as well.

What did you do before you joined the AAD?

Work in the Pilbara at an iron ore mine

What is your favourite part of your job here at Casey?

Working with a great crew and learning new skills

If you were not a plumber what would be your dream job?

Presenter on the Getaway travel TV show

How does this season at Casey compare to your previous seasons down south?

This is my first time here.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Go to the gym, and chew the fat at the bar.

What song sums up your Casey experience so far?

The Mentals: ‘The Nips are Getting Bigger’

What actor would play you in a film version of our 72nd ANARE season here at Casey?

Paul Newman from ‘Cool Hand Luke’

Favourite piece of Australian Antarctic Division kit?


What is your favourite book / movie (or both) and why?

Forrest Gump, because everything he touched turned out well, he gave life a crack.

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ genre? Do you have a particular favourite?

Don’t have a favourite, any music makes the world go around.

Describe your Casey experience with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste.

Sight — Looking out over the bay every morning from East wing cold porch window.

Smell — Waste treatment plant

Sound — On a field trip and sitting alone and there is no sound

Taste — What the chefs present to us every day is amazing. Also Aaron’s pizzas last Saturday night were great.

Do you have a favourite quote that you’d like to leave us with?

I’ll Be Back” …. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Something people may not know about you:

The Queen presented me with a bravery medal, for saving a girl trying to commit suicide off a 20 story building in 1988.