Macca expeditioners prepare for tourist season, share more stunning photos and provide details of ongoing work.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

Figures in for November: A standard four week roster with the hunting team walking a distance of 3199 Kms (a very impressive achievement).  

We reached a milestone during November. It has been over a year now since the last rabbit sign was found and the total distance covered by the hunting team since the start of the project has passed 50,000km. We’re not sure how many pairs of boots and socks have been worn out but we’re guessing quite a few!

Ranger in Charge

Cape petrels (Daption capense)

This week marked the first census on cape petrel breeding for the summer. Thirteen nests were recorded this week at North Head with nine nests active and adults sitting on an egg. Adults are a striking, chequered and patterned black and white from above, and can easily be spotted at sea.

Cape petrels breed on the eastern slopes overlooking the water and are backed with a vertical or overhanging rock or vegetation. They have a basic nest on the ground that consists of small stones or gravel and as such rats, mice and cats are a major threat to the species. 

Cape petrels breed in the Antarctic continent and subantarctic islands and are listed as vulnerable. With the removal of feral cats, and eradication of rabbits, rats and mice, it is hoped the species will boom in the coming years. Rangers will continue to visit nests over the summer to determine breeding success.


Remediation update

The remediation team of Charles and Lauren have been busy outside at their field sites and inside at the lab. The team has now completed the first round of nutrient addition at the fuel farm and the main power house. What comes after adding nutrient at these sites? The collection of water samples for nutrient and hydrocarbon analysis. This involves collecting water samples from in-ground sample ports which have been installed at both sites in previous seasons and from naturally occurring seeps around each sites. Samples from the seeps give an indication of the concentration of nutrient and hydrocarbons which are leaving the sites. This can be challenging - not the actual sampling itself but getting sufficient sample for the required analysis. For nutrient analysis the team required 50 mL whilst for hydrocarbon analysis, 500 mL is required. Surprisingly these volumes can be difficult to achieve even in a wet environment like Macquarie Island! The team will commence analysing these towards the end of the week and into next week. Both Charles and Lauren will be heading down island next week for a well earned recreational break and visit some of the island’s inhabitants!

Lauren Wise

Albatross update

This week saw the first male wandering albatross return to Macquarie Island for breeding. Three have been sighted on The Featherbed building nests and waiting for the females to arrive to begin courtship. Wandering albatross are known for their unique courting dance of head bobbing and wing extensions. One male, affectionately named ‘Bandscar’ (32 years old) has been seen back in the amphitheatre for his ninth breeding attempt in 16 years.

The extended light-mantled albatross census took place on Tuesday. Albatross researchers Jaimie and Anna were lucky to get the assistance of Robby, Andrew and TasPAWs rangers Paul and Rich as they covered the whole east coast escarpment from North Head to Brothers Point. Sooties, as they are affectionately known, nest high on the escarpment often in very steep terrain. They love to build nests hidden in sharp gullies and below tussock plants, setting the challenge of one big game of hide'n’seek for the census team. After a wet morning the skies cleared and orcas appeared down on the coast below making it one amazing day of hill climbing. Lucky the spa was running for a muscle soak afterwards!

Jaimie Cleeland


This week the team has been busy preparing for the arrival of the first tourist ships of the summer season. Many on the team, under the leadership of Richard and Paul, have volunteered to be guides and are keen to show off this wonderful island to the many guests who will soon visit the station and Sandy Bay. 

The Spirit of Enderby is due on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th with 50 passengers plus crew, the Orion on Sunday the 16th and Monday 17th with 100 passengers and crew. We (and I’m sure they are too) are praying for good weather!

Other fun activities on station this week have involved servicing and repairing the IRBs, Chippie Jim continues with plastering night classes, and other work included wildlife census, repairs to our water supply, a volleyball tournament and numerous games of cards.



Moments in Time

From old station log books…

Saturday 12th December, 1964 :

5am rise, fine, some sunshine, weak S.W. winds. Unloading continues, OIC packing blankets then backloading. Change-over officially in mess at 1400 hours. Dr Law spoke short and to the point ‘the message was there’. OIC replied, toasts given by both parties, OIC then ‘presented’ keys of the station to incoming OIC Bruce Ellwood, who suitably replied. Two trips to Sandy Bay to restock this outstation, Walkem and Stair assisted.

“May we all continue to strive, learn and seek the hidden mysteries of science in Antarctica and to every man the greatest of all virtues — tolerance”.  Robert (OIC)

15th December 1973 :

Misty and drizzle most of the day. Little wind, not very cold. Stowed the last of the clothing stock in store. Ralph tops up oil tanks on a Saturday. Buffet dinner at night including some home grown rabbit. Very tasty. Took 3 hours to cook. Terry a marvellous cook. Brian making a bench inside the hydrogen building for the Met blokes to put their gear on. Note : found the young rabbits ie less than 12 months old were the best to cook.  Kept a log of nights out and who used what huts. Think it useful info for general interest and also to show H.O. blokes the usage and importance of huts at M.I. — they tend to get low priority.

Saturday 18th May, 1996 :

Bob and Eddie failed to sched last night from Green Gorge, no surprise because the HF radio was known to be faulty, they probably arrived at dusk, and VHF comms from the immediate hut vicinity are poor. However concern prompted when they also failed to keep the 0800 sched. Nothing was heard until a fragment of noise at 0950. Warren advised the caller to seek higher ground but no more was heard. Rick and Paul set out at 1015 and reported at 1355 for Green Gorge hut logbook entries showed the ‘missing’ people to have been in the hut last night and en route to Waterfall Bay today. Later explanation of the failure to sched was provided at the regular 1700 sched from Waterfall Bay. Eddie reported he was having some difficulties with the VHF handheld radio but believed he has made satisfactory contact in the morning, they had no idea they had caused any concern. Routine Saturday duties in the afternoon and a quiet evening for a Saturday.