As the days grow warmer, so does the abundance of wildlife and people on Macquarie Island. Stunning photos of flora and fauna accompany this week’s news.

Summer projects begin

On the 26th October, our winter officially ended with the arrival of  L’Astrolabe.

Onboard were :

  • Paul, Tasmanian Parks Summer Ranger
  • Lauren and Charles, Remediation of petroleum contaminants in the Antarctic and subantarctic project
  • Greg, Senior Comms Tech Officer
  • Jaimie and Anna, Status and trends of Macquarie Island albatrosses and giant petrels project
  • Plus 2 tonne of cargo.

We were extremely fortunate with the weather on the day with winds less than 10 knots, very little swell and we even had the sun appear through the clouds at times. Using our three IRBs we managed to complete all pax and cargo transfers without a delay. L’Astrolabe arrived at approx 5:15pm and departed at 6:35pm. A very smooth and successful operation.

As soon as the new team arrived, they were shown around station whilst the Macquarie Island Quarantine Team (Richard, Dave, Pete, Lauren and Tamar) inspected every bag and box to ensure there were no signs of rodents, insects or seeds. All cargo arriving at Macquarie Island goes through a very stringent checking process back on the mainland. Our job on the island is to close that loop in the process as a final check. Once all bags were checked thoroughly, the new team were able to settle in to their rooms, science project cargo was packed away and expeditioners scrambled for the mailbag to see what goodies had arrived.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

The Hunters arrived back on station last Sunday and we were all wondering would they:

a) Have a shower first, or;

b)  Collect their mail first

We were wrong, the answer was ‘a'!

The team were very pleased to see all their new boots and outdoor gear had arrived. Nothing had been left in the warehouse and there were numerous surprise parcels from home too. The hunters are on station until Saturday 3rd November when, sometime after smoko, they head out to for another month of hunting.

And as promised a few weeks ago, we have photos of Kelly’s 25th birthday celebrations at Hurd Point. The highlight of the party was the ‘pass the parcel’ competition. We’re not sure if everyone was a winner or if it ended in tears with a few people missing out on a gift. Once again Kelly, Happy Birthday from your Macquarie Island extended family!

Ranger in Charge

The elephant seal breeding season is starting to conclude with many cows having birthed, fed, weaned, mated then left the harems to seek food in the southern ocean. Now the inquisitive weaners (weaning seal pups) are moulting from black furry pups to shiny, grey, stout sausages. They are playful and are getting into all sorts of nooks and crannies around station and the isthmus. It is hilarious to see a weaner playing with a beachwashed buoy, nibbling on kelp or realising they too can butt chests.
The rangers and albatross staff have left station to undertake the yearly skua census (with the support of the hunters) and the southern giant petrel census. However the most pressing job is field familiarisation training and the banding of the six wandering albatross chicks. These six chicks have survived the winter and are rapidly growing adult plumage getting ready for their first flight. It is an exciting time for all on this wee island.


Project: Remediation of petroleum contaminants in the Antarctic and subantarctic

At Macquarie Island there are two areas on station in which fuel spills have occurred:  the fuel farm and at the main power house (MPH)*. The MPH site has ‘historic’ contamination and a spill was also documented in 2002. The Australian Antarctic Division’s Contaminated Sites Group (part of the Terrestrial and Nearshore Ecosystems theme) assesses, develops and implements risk and remediation strategies for these fuel spill areas. Remediation activities at these two sites have been undertaken since 2009 and are ongoing, with preliminary site-specific remediation end points being developed by the risk assessment component of the program.

The remediation program for the 2012/13 summer season will include:

  • Sampling of soil and groundwater to monitor the progress of site remediation
  • Maintenance of site equipment
  • Relocation of the aeration array
  • Addition of nutrients and continued aeration of the soil at the sites  

Charles Sutherland and Lauren Wise arrived on the L’Astrolabe with a third remediation team member and three members of the risk assessment team arriving in late December. Currently the team is conducting some general maintenance on the aeration system and is busy commissioning the lab prior to commencing baseline water sampling.

Also during the week we were focused on preparing for the arrival of L’Astrolabe and packing up after she left our shores. The kitchen was certainly a busy place when the hunters arrived back on station. We have moved from being a hamlet of 26 personnel to a small village of 31.

Lauren Wise and Charles Sutherland

*This site is now known as the Emergency Power House on station.



Moments in time

Extracts from station log books

1st November, 1964

Routine duties then all assisted as time permitted on first day of seal branding, fire would not draw because of little wind, force draught on portable forge proved very good standby, those helped were Middleton, Dart, King, Taylor, Lodwick, McDonald, Purchase, Allan, Stair and OIC. Gadd took good radio sked from Bauer Bay. All staff worked very well…

OIC — duty cook, the food appeared palatable!

28th October 1976

Fine day — Nigel, Pete and I proceeded over Petrel Peak to South West Point to observe Grey Headed and Black Browed Albatross. Pleasing to see that Black Brows are nesting on area reclaimed and shored up with timber on our last visit. 8 nests in this area with a total of 18 nests in colony. Observed a Leopard seal eating a Royal penguin in Caroline Harbour. Carried out inventory of food, fuel and field equipment at Caroline hut. Message re fuel at Hurd received.

Proceeded to Hurd to collect details of fuel dump — join Nigel and Pete on overland track. Weather deteriorated to bliz conditions. Abandoned any hopes of further shooting as impossible to see rabbits let alone shoot them. Headed for Green Gorge with strong westerlies, hail, rain and snow. Strong winds and snow storms all through the night. Inventory food, fuel and field equipment completed.

31st October, 1996

The day started well. On walking into afternoon smoko I was alerted to an emergency call put out by George at Middle beach after Warren received this call communications with Middle Beach ceased. I sent Paul K and Paul S out immediately and at the same time made the boats ready complete with crew. 25 minutes later Paul K conformed that George was OK but with radio problems his call for emergency was a mistake and an unfortunate choice of words. Tea was a sombre affair with a very sheepish George. The night finished well with a small group of people listening to Dave and Tussock recite C.J. Dennis and other poetry.