The wildlife continues to inspire and amaze and we get an update on how our green laser is working.


Whilst I understand sightings will get more frequent in the next few months, I can’t imagine they will ever get ordinary. George was our man on the spot with the right lens (again!) for a couple of great pics when he spotted an Orca off the coast last Thursday.

Some green magic

It’s been a while since I spent more than a few days at Macca, and it is good to be back. I’m here to check and calibrate the POLAR lidar — an instrument developed at AAD that measures the height and properties of clouds and particles in the atmosphere. POLAR is being run for the Antarctic Cloud and Radiation Experiment (ACRE) which is led by Simon Alexander at Head Office.

I briefly popped in to Macca last April with Simon and colleagues to set up POLAR, but before then I hadn’t been here since the summer–winter–summer of 1987–89 and the summer of 1991–92. Back then I was researching pulsating aurora — Macquarie Island is one of the best places to view this phenomenon, and I’ve been lucky to see these slowly pulsing green nocturnal glows during my present visit. Just like the aurora, the local vegetation and the light from POLAR, most things here are green — even a favourite evening pastime of pool is played on a lusciously green backdrop.

POLAR uses a green laser to probe the atmosphere, and the resulting laser lightshow is a feature of the night sky here. You can see the green beam in the Skycam movie on the Macquarie Island webcam page. The data being collected on clouds and other features of the atmosphere by POLAR and other instruments of the ACRE project are currently being applied to assess many fundamental aspects of the Southern Ocean environment that have never been studied in such detail before. We are on track in helping to improve the modelling of climate in this part of the world, and it’s thanks to some green magic.

Dr. Andrew Klekociuk

Busy little island

Just to give you an idea of how crowded it’s getting around here in wildlife land, here are some pics I took last week when I was lucky enough to get out to Green Gorge and Lusi Bay to see how the penguin numbers are growing.

The Kings are moulting at the moment, which throws up some interesting looks!


Of the new faces we now have around station, some have been here before, so I thought it timely that I did another trawl through the logs to see what they were up to on their previous visits and see if we can trigger some island memories for them.

Dr Andrew Klekociuk, atmospheric scientist, first wintered here October 87–March 89.

Station log 20/5/88

Jon, Andrew, Steve and Peter Auden have all decided to go and see the mass of snow on the plateau for themselves and for a bit of R&R on toboggans and skis

Andrew was Station Photographer for the year and that was a different job in those pre–digital days.

Station log 29/5/88

The first results of station photos shown to me by Andrew today. Would you believe we’ll have to do them again because out of a dozen shots there is not one that gives a clean view of everybody — with one or two heads being hidden behind other bodies.

Now, thankfully, we have Photoshop to deal with those issues!

Station Log 9/7/88

Hair cutting madness struck this afternoon and evening with Rob, myself, Michael, Dave S, Andrew and Lutz all falling victim in a series of dares and counter dares. It was an ugly looking mob that sat down for a few drinks on Saturday night to commiserate.

John Burgess, Field Training Officer, was last here in the same role in summer 1990/91. As such, he was mostly in the field so there’s little mention of him in the log.

Station Log 3/12/1990

Lovely day — commencement of winterers’ field training with Phil B, Deidre and Doug with John B to Bauer Bay.

Station Log 6/12/1990

Intermittent periods of rain and sunshine with fog on the plateau. Field training party of John Burgess, Jim Lane, Helen Cooley and Trevor Lloyd departed 1100 for Bauer.

Yes, that’s our wintering Doctor Helen back when she was on her first lap down here!

And field training is exactly what John’s up to again this week with our new summer arrivals.

Melissa Houghton, research student conducting a whole island invertebrate survey, was first on Macquarie as a dog handler on the MIPEP project during 2011/12.

Station Log 14/11/2011

Rabbit number nine. Great excitement on the radio during the day. In the morning, while Melissa was returning to her block from a Sunday off at Eitel, she found rabbit scat and a bit of grazing, and the dog got very excited. Ben H, Jane and Sandy all came to help her. They tracked activity over a 700 metre area, and the dogs were really excited about a particular burrow. They dug it up and caught the rabbit, which was sitting next to a petrel in the burrow. It was a black rabbit and a doe. The radio waves vibrated with Mel’s excitement as all the team congratulated both her and the others helping her.

Station Log 18/2/2012

In the afternoon Mel radioed to say that Wags has fallen down a waterfall and was stuck, approx. 15 metres down, and could not get out. They were in one of the waterfall areas of Four Waterfalls Bay. She needed assistance. Tony and Jack were the two closest and they headed across to her. They ended up lassoing Wags around the neck, ensuring that it couldn’t tighten around his neck and strangle him, and just hauled him up. It wasn’t a vertical haul, so Wags was able to give some assistance. When released from the rope at the top, he gave himself a shake and was ready to carry on as if nothing had happened — despite having been in leg-deep water for about three hours!

Robbie Kilpatrick, Research Assistant on the long running remediation project, is on his 5th summer visit this year.

Station Log 12/2/2012

Akademik Shokalskiy unloaded passengers this morning. Last of this summers’ expeditioners arrived — Lisa Meyer and Robbie Kilpatrick to work on the Remediation Project with Glenn Johnstone. All went well.

Jeremy Richardson, Remediation Scientist on the remediation project, is on his second summer visit, and Nick Cartwright, BSS was here last winter, but unfortunately the logs for last season are not complete on station so I couldn’t find anything to jog your memory. Apologies!