At Davis this week a seal tag returns, two hut visits, two birthdays and the fire teams are put through their paces.

Seal tag returns

As the end of the summer draws ever closer, our team at Davis has had a rare and very unexpected surprise. Yesterday James Hamilton found one of our CTD-SRDLs (a seal tag) on Mule Island (-68.650, 77.833) to the southwest of Davis station in an old seal wallow. The tag was deployed on a male elephant seal on 06 February 2012 during a previous expedition to Davis. This seal, W6211, weighed 600 kilograms, was 3.27 metres long and had a rather substantial girth of 2.6 metres.

Recovering these tags is a wonderful bonus given that in addition to the data that has already been transmitted through ARGOS we are able to recover high-resolution information recorded at 4-second intervals from the instrument. Not only is this a great boost in terms of data recovery but it also means that we have an extra instrument to deploy on future expeditions.

Watts for a walk

Last week, Wade and Esther took a much needed sojourn to Watts Hutt. Just a short two hour walk south from the hut, we found Sørsdal Knoll.

Forty metres higher than anything nearby, you're rewarded with an unprecedented view of the glacier that is the Knoll’s namesake.

Warning: the urge to howl is irresistible.

Fire teams ready at Davis

With the arrival of voyage three (resupply ship) and the exodus of our summering expeditioners fast approaching, it was time to put both winter fire teams through their paces.

For the last three months, Davis has incorporated summering expeditioners into the fire teams, but soon that luxury will be gone and the remaining 16 wintering expeditioners will have to fill all the positions on two fire teams. This involved re-shuffling some members into new roles.

Once this was completed, we conducted two fire response exercises last Saturday. The scenario was that a fire had started in the emergency power house, which required two hose teams to snuff the stubborn ‘flames'. The goals of the exercises were for members to become confident with their new roles, become familiarised with equipment and comfortable working with a new team. All these goals were met by both teams and, as a result, both fire exercises were a success.

After the first phase of the exercise was complete members clocked up some ‘hose time’ by washing two Häggs.

Brookes for a break

On 5 February, a posse consisting of two plumbers, a dieso, and a plant operator headed north from Davis station bound for Brookes hut in Shirokaya Bay. The route took us through Heidemann Valley past Sentinel Knoll and Lake Dingle. We paused at Lake Dingle to take in the view of the mirror finish on the water which was reflecting the sky and rocky ridges just like a post card photo. From there we headed east to Lake Stinear. We climbed spot height 39 to be greeted with a remarkable view down over the lake. From there we returned to our heading north over numerous dykes and rolling hills to reach our final destination, Brookes hut, where we settled in for the night with a warm meal and a few rounds of UNO.

We woke Saturday morning with unfavourable weather outside so we caught up on the news of the world thanks to our friends at National Geographic. The weather cleared at about 1500 hours so Scott and Chris headed out for the afternoon to check out Deep Lake and the surrounding hills. After conquering every spot height in the area, we returned to Brookes for a well-earned drink and a feed. The night was spent solving the world’s problems.

Sunday we awoke to the sound of helicopters overhead. We put our thumbs out and did our best poor hitchhiker look and managed to score a ride back to station just in time for Sunday brunch. It was a real nice flight back looking out over the Vestfold Hills, the East Antarctica ice sheet and Prydz Bay which is an unreal sight with its scattered icebergs.

A great weekend was had by all.

Valentine’s Day birthdays

This Valentine’s Day we helped Helen and Joe celebrate their birthdays. Of course, there was cake too!