This week at Davis, the winter team comes together, the sea ice forms, elephant seals wallow, and, with clear skies, the aurora australis is visible.

The sea ice forms

A few weeks ago we actually had rollers on the beach big enough to please a surfer. However, it is now still, flat and white; the only movement were elephant seals on shore, the rise and fall of the tide.

Within a day or two, grease ice we had watched the Xue Long sail through coalesced to form pancake ice which in turn amalgamated to blanket the sea in front of station. That is apart from the tidal zone where elephant seals take a break from their moult on shore to bathe in a slushy spa.

This change from open water to frozen expanse happened quickly and, if calm weather continues, may well be the start to sea ice developing, which we will use as access to the Vestfold Hills and ice plateau later in the winter.

A day in the wallow

As summer comes to a close elephant seals start to arrive and haul out to moult on the beaches around Davis. Jen, who is looking after our stores over the winter has volunteered to do a daily count of the seals which is one of the long running monitoring projects here at Davis.

The numbers have gradually increased over the past few months to around 80 males of all sizes and ages. They shed their old worn outer layer over about three weeks then head to sea to fatten up before the next breeding season.

This year the preferred locality is on shore, right in front of the SMQ, where they seem to sleep all day then bellow and belch all night. 

Introducing the 2016 Davis winter team

Aaron organised our first team photograph this week, making us traipse around to various localities as backdrop. Surprisingly, all of us turned up and there was very little time spent standing around — well done. Obviously Aaron was a good choice for station photographer!

Aurora colours illuminate the sky above Davis station

This week, with clear and darkening skies, we were treated to our first visible aurora for the 2016 winter.

The aurora australis, glowing eerily green, waved curtain-like above us. Other colours, visible through a camera’s long exposure, were just awesome to behold.