This week we have operated lots of planes, painted and waterproofed buildings, watched elephant seals haul out and enjoyed an amazing art show

Station update

As described last week Davis continued to be an aviation enthusiasts dream again this week with six aircraft operating including two helicopters, two Baslers, a Twin Otter and a LC130 Hercules from the US Air Force. In a finely tuned operation we moved two flights in from the Chinese station Zhonghsan with 22 people, multiple helicopter flights from station and then sent the LC130 to Wilkins where it linked to an A319 from Hobart, collected nine people from Hobart and flew back to Whoop Whoop for a helicopter link to station. Lots of fun! This all took a lot of work and coordination at Davis, Casey and Hobart by many in the AAD. On the same day the Twin Otter was down on the Amery Ice shelf installing and servicing scientific equipment. In all, the LC130 spent 3 days at Davis, flying home to the US station McMurdo the day after the Wilkins mission. It was great having the crew on station for a few nights for some Australian hospitality.

The scaffold is now down from the living quarters link way and the roof is looking great with a pitched waterproof covering in place. Our emergency power house has also had a spruce up and is now a great shade of blue and looking far less rustic!

It has also been terrific to get all of the ice core out of the Mount Brown Camp and safely in a freezer here on station ready for the ship. Now to get the remaining people and cargo out of the camp.

Lots more boating action this week as well with biologists Marcus and Kim doing seabird and seal surveys, recreational trips for others and in the last few days lots of work with a newly arrived film crew who are making a virtual reality film about Davis and the work we do. They have some amazing cameras and equipment with them along with a drone that can capture some amazing footage.

Check out the articles below on the elephant seals now arriving on our beach and the fantastic art show that we held on Saturday night!

By Robb (Station Leader)

Elephant seals

Now that the sea ice has broken out and the snow drifts on land have almost disappeared, the sandy beaches of Davis have been revealed.

The soft beaches make for a comfortable place for our latest visitors, the southern elephant seals, to hang out. Over the past weeks the seals have been coming and going, but soon we expect some of the seals to establish themselves in wallows as they undergo their annual moult. Most elephant seals breeding and moult on sub-Antarctic islands. So we are pretty fortunate to have these handful of juveniles and sub-adult male seals visit the Davis shoreline.

The smaller seals will take about 30 days to shed their fur and skin and the larger males will take up to 55 days. During that time they rely on their fat stores to see them through the moult. If they haven’t accumulated enough stores then they may not make it.

At one beach just a short walk from station, the Old Wallow, the cold, dry Antarctic environment has done a great job of preserving years of fur, skin and a few carcasses.

Over the coming weeks there should be more and more seals coming ashore, perhaps enough to replace the outgoing summer expeditioner population, and will provide plenty of ‘sealy’ viewing opportunities for the winterers.

By Marcus (Field Biologist)

Davis art show

A chaotic bliss flurried through the air as Davis Station prepared itself for an evening of ooohs and arrrrhhs. The suspense was highlighted even more when another half an hour was needed to prepare for the grand opening … mainly due to the fact that internationally claimed art critic, Art Creteek, was due to appear as well!

On entering through the doors to the gallery our eyes were transfixed immediately to the fine craftmanship displayed on the glass table. Original pieces of railway pegs from WA drilled into aging timber to represent a clothes hook and a marvelous hand crafted dip/condiments tray nicely oiled with side dishes to complement. A large timber bowl stained and finished in a high gloss shone as it begged to be rubbed and greeted by the discerning onlookers. Next to it, a tall display cabinet with burnt pine contained some lovely alcoholic beverages of my favourite whisky which tasted ‘oh so good’ and smooth on the palate (oh shoot, didn’t realise I said that out loud), but the cabinet was extremely tasteful with brass hinges and industrial bolted door knobs.

Adorning the walls were awesome sequenced pictures of skuas and petrels showing a glaring stare and out stretched feathered coat of such magnificent creatures. Also, towards the rear of the room many people strummed a wonderfully crafted 3 string electric guitar! The talent displayed in this room made one feel quite inadequate yet amazed. How proud we are to be among such talented people.

Out in the next room stood an incredible soon-to-be rocking horse made from 19 pieces of Huon Pine which was fielded from an area of timbers that are dated back to ten thousand years. How lucky is that three year old with a handful of coloured markers!

On the walls were striking photographed pictures of local penguins and icebergs that captured colour and texture that one can only shake a head in disbelief. In a different medium, lead pencil proved unbelievable in giving a 3D image of birdlife with finite detail to those that stood closer.

A full house was enraptured by a poem read out loud that struck the heart and mind of us all. An experience and a journey shared to us by an event that the poet experienced not long ago.

And of course, we had a song sung to us, filled with the events of the year here at Davis with the high and lows of laughter and beers, oops, cheers!

Pleased to say that Art Creteek was most impressed by the many talented and varied art works of which not all are mentioned in this column, but none the less wonderful and abstract.

Many thanks to Sam and Tom for organising the eventful night and to all the awesome talented guys and gals who put in so much time and resources to show case to us the things we don’t see often enough.

By Dave (Art Creteek and Tradie)