We departed station at 17:30 after getting our team together and a quick briefing on the route and sea-ice crossing. It was a 30 minute walk from Casey station to Shirley Island. Among us was Anne (trip leader), Nick, Muscles, Tim, Ant and myself. I was excited for Tim and Ant who hadn’t been on the continent yet, as Shirley Island is a great spot to see some of Antarctica’s wildlife so close to station.
No sooner had we stepped foot onto the sea-ice than we had a welcoming party of Adelie penguins come racing over to say hello. It was a great sight to see them waddling over. At times it seemed they couldn’t contain their excitement as they tripped over their feet to get to us. Some of the penguins made squawking noises at us, I assumed they were saying “Hello, welcome to Shirley Island”. Everyone pulled out their cameras and proceeded to film them and their antics.
Once we reached the island we made a plan to move up the hill and onto the plateau. Surrounded by small penguin colonies and aromas one could only describe as “ripe”, the beauty of the place really took hold. After taking in the sights of the nesting Adelies briefly, we moved up the island towards what we were led to believe was the resting site for an elephant seal.
After searching for 15-20 minutes a big, greenish coloured rock moved, but it wasn’t a rock, it was Eleanor the elephant seal. Only young but still quite large, nestled in between two large rocks and kept company by a nearby penguin colony squawking about the latest fashions and the recent increase in tourists. It felt very special to see such a sight as it's quite rare that an elephant seal would be resting on the island so close to station.
After absorbing the atmosphere and taking a large number of photos and videos, we decided it was time to return to station. We made the trek back and finished off our evening with a delicious, hearty meal our chefs had prepared earlier. Belly full, I started to reflect on what an amazing place we are in and how lucky we are to be here. These are the times we will remember for years to come, these are the stories we will forever tell, this is an extraordinary adventure and I am happy I get to share it with some truly incredible people.
– Aaron (Station Supply Officer)