Macquarie Island expeditioners are counting seals and cleaning up after a huge storm

Station update

Elephant seal counts have been the focus of lots of activity this week on Macca.

For the past few weeks, we have been undertaking weekly elephant seal counts of the east and west coast on Sundays. This week, daily counts started and volunteers from station have been walking the east coast between station and Tractor Rock every day, clicker and notebook in hand. The harems have been slowly getting bigger and bigger, and now that many females have delivered their pups, the Beachmasters are becoming ever more protective of their harems, as the females become ready to mate. A few big battles have already occurred, with two less fortunate males having died as a result of the fighting. Many of us are in awe at the rate of growth of the little pups, who transform from baggy little sacks of black fur, to rotund weaners in the space of just a few weeks. To our surprise, many of the females in the storm affected harems are supporting multiple pups.

On Wednesday, the whole of island elephant seal census was held, with expeditioners covering the entire coastline counting all of the female seals. With a skeleton crew left back at station, teams headed out armed with clickers, survival packs and the odd Thermos or two into a blustery and chilly day. Keep your eye out for our ranger’s report of the census results in an upcoming station news story.

Despite more windy weather, and the odd sneaky wave over the top of the isthmus, work continued all week on post-storm clean up. Restoration of services exposed by the storm, and reinstatement of the isthmus crossing which was badly eroded, were completed. Rocks thrown up behind the multi-purpose building were removed and the cage pallet retaining wall which took the brunt of the waves was dismantled. All is looking almost back to normal now ready for the arrival of our summer expeditioners in a few weeks.

In other station news, following on from the success of the great penguin puzzle challenge, Lou, Anna and Marion started another communal mess puzzle. Justin and Ben continue the search for the perfect waffle cone recipe. At our Saturday evening dinner this week, Louise surprised us all with new beanies that she has been busily crocheting.

Photo gallery: The big storm

The last word