The two person Davis Aerodrome Project (DAP) team here on station have had a busy summer following on from our first winter season. The summer began with the last of the Weddell seal surveys in Long Fjord – under beautiful blue skies and perfect conditions. Spending time with the Weddells has been a highlight of the Spring, but all good things must come to an end and the sea ice access has seen the end to visiting Long Fjord – we wish our seal friends well.
In the last week or so a different kind of seal survey has commenced, as the southern elephant seals begin to return to the coastline around Davis. Sea ice has broken out in front of the Old Wallow site about 4km from Davis, allowing access for the ellies to get onto the land and begin their catastrophic moult process (more info from This week at Davis: 27 March 2020 — Australian Antarctic Program (antarctica.gov.au)). We are looking forward to the sea ice blowing out from the area around station so that we can see more of the seals return to the Davis beach – and we can enjoy their sounds and smells again.
Environmental monitoring has continued, with a focus on the Ridge site, with many dust, soil, water and benthic mat samples collected, and many more to still collect over the remainder of the summer.
Our plant operator, Wayne, has been very busy preparing the temporary track out along the Ridge site in order to enable access throughout the summer and to best set up access for the winter works program. This involved a lot of snow clearing – finding the track was tricky at times due to the amount of snow cover - the temporary track will allow for equipment and vehicles to be transported up to the Ridge during the coming winter.
The trusty DAP Hagg has helped us through it all – a real work horse for the station and for the field, she has now been put out to spell while conditions allow us to use the utes.
Preparations also continue for our handover to the next winter crew. We are getting very excited as the changeover/resupply dates approach, and look forward to welcoming a bigger DAP team to Davis for the 2021 winter.
DAP Environmental Officer
[Editor note: Samples will be returned to Hobart for analysis by AAD scientists in March and will contribute to either the DAP Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation or the establishment of baseline monitoring conditions should the DAP proceed.]