As predicted last week, we have our first seal pups and gentoo eggs, and have set up our photo points. The earthquake was an unanticipated surprise…

First seal pup spotted

As predicted last week, we have seen our first seal pups born around station this week.

Rob Bennett was the first person to spot the new arrivals — actually two of them and so wins the annual prize. Winning photo attached (photographic evidence required to claim prize… whatever the prize may be).

This harem now has four pups and more pregnant cows joining so we should see some more births in the next few days.

George was out with his uber-lens on Saturday and was lucky enough to catch pup number four being born. No time to rest — it’s out of the womb and straight on to skua alert for both mum and bub.

So far that’s the only harem around station, but there’s bound to be much more going on out and about on the island. 


When I first found out I was coming to Macquarie Island, people enthusiastically raved about the wildlife — the diversity, the proximity, the landscape, the ability to go for a walk, the rain, the wind and the wet feet but no one mentioned the “earthquake” word until I’d signed up and was in training (note to self: do more of my own research).

But the ground shaking is just another part of how the planet works down this way and it’s not unusual to have a couple of good rumbles a year. Last Friday morning we had a 6.3 magnitude earthquake which is considered ‘strong’ in the world of earthquake boffins and we've had numerous much smaller tremors since. The ones in the middle of the night on Friday meant most of us presented a little short of sleep on Saturday morning…

Macquarie Island sits on top of the Macquarie Ridge Complex on the boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates. The plate margin itself passes approximately 10 kilometres to the west of the island at its closest point. Friday’s earthquake was in the Puysegur trench to the north of us and not ‘tsunamigenic’ (another new word I've learned this year!).

Station survived very well — we had a break in our water supply line due to a landslide and various items fells of shelves, but no major damage and no injuries. Only Kim was out in the field and Bauer Bay field hut had a proper wriggle, which meant poor Kim got to clean it up. Others of us are heading out this week to see how the other huts fared…

First gentoo egg spotted

And the prize for first gentoo egg spotted goes to Helen Cooley — photographic evidence required and attached. These little guys sit on eggs for just over 30 days, so we should start seeing chicks around mid October.

Gentoos move nesting sites every year and even though they have a whole island to play on, they have built their nests right next to the road to Landing Beach so we are having to rethink our traffic activities over the next few months…

Island photo points

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ — an old saying that quite simply encapsulates the potential power of a photograph. 

The pictures attached to our Icy News story add a dimension that could only otherwise be added in lengthy amounts of text.

Macca is currently waking up from the sleepy depths of winter. We’ve established a couple of simple photo points nearby to the station so that family, friends and anyone interested can join with us and monitor life on the island as it unfolds over the next few months. We’re anticipating that you’ll be able to follow the increase in life along the beaches as the breeding elephant seals come ashore, and also follow the life cycle of some of the mega herbs up on Wireless Hill as the seasons roll by. We’ll try our best to get these pictures to you each week on Icy News.

The images at first may seem a little mundane — simple landscape photographs. The first one is looking south along Station Beach on the western side of the Isthmus; photo point is just west of the clean air lab — note the position of the rocks in the foreground. These will be reference points for the photo series. From this point we’ll be able to monitor weekly changes in the density of breeding elephant seals.

The second photo point has been established up on Wireless Hill just north of the station. The view is looking west over Hasselborough Bay towards Handspike Point. The fenced enclosure seen in this image surrounds the grave of John Windsor (3rd ANARE meteorologist dec. 3 January 1951). The fence will serve as a reference point for this photo point. From here, we’ll be able to watch the change in vegetation with the warmer weather culminating in the stands of beautiful stands of red flower stems of the Pleurophyllum hookeri by mid–summer.

The fixed point station webcams are another angle that shows life on the island. Sometimes not much appears to be happening, but on other occasions… you never know what you’ll see.

And as ever, all is weather dependent. Sadly sunshine isn’t guaranteed.

Chris Howard 


Earthquakes are a part of the natural world down here and it’s quite common to have one or two noticeable tremors a year. Given the architecture of the field huts, they seem to feel it more than the station buildings.

Station log 22/7/75

Big earth tremor this morning approx. ¼ past 7 Jovan recorded it at 5.5 (good graph).

Sandy Bay Hut log 7/2/80 — Jenny Scott

5 to 10 pm. An earth tremor sent a deluge of tinned food on to the floor and smashed a jar of pickles. More faint shudderings for another hour.

Green Gorge hut log 7/2/80 — Rod Seppelt

At 2154 had the shit shaken out of us by a bloody great shake of the terra firma. Amid the falling sauce bottles, books etc, guesstimated that it lasted approx. 20 secs. A secondary shock, much weaker at 2202, lasted about 1 second. Got on the radio and Jenny at Sandy Bay is also cleaning up the shambles. So, we believe, is Lusi Bay.

Lusi Bay hut log 7/2/80 — Tim Feetham

Well after nursing our swollen blistered feet and broken backs we made tea… before we could finish the hut started to take off with things falling from the shelves… Dave was on his feet holding the lamp to stop it from falling and creating a real disaster with fire. There was me in complete confusion thinking the hut was going to fall over onto the beach with me inside. Me being a great brave ANARE expeditioner, bailed out of the hut at the first opportunity (about 2 secs after it finished shaking) asking Dave who was still inside looking at the mess for a torch… a mass of mud about 3 ft thick 10 ft wide and 100ft long stopping about 100ft from the back of the hut.

Lusi Bay hut log 7/2/80 — Dave Barrett

How can I describe our trepidations as commodities of every description, (nay the walls and fixtures themselves!) did commence to move aright by their own volition, their countenance made most eiry by the dancing light of the now violently oscillating lantern burning pressured oil of kerosene! Be still my trembling pulses as I recall Mr Feetham’s surprised cry wrenched most cruelly from his bosom as greater shocks befell our senses and rended the situation more confused and of utter disarray… the fearful discoveries as we began to set aright the confusions following our brief sojourn into a world of shocks and disquiet.

Green Gorge hut log 8/2/80 — Rod S

Heard on evening sked… from Rod L. that a few things were damaged at base in the quake yesterday. Also that news of the quake had hit the Australian papers — we’re famous folks! Quake about 6–7 intensity and about 40 miles north or south of the seismic hut apparently.

Hurd Point hut log 10/2/80

HM and Gazbo arrived from Caroline to be the first in after the earthquake on the night of the seventh. What a mess! At least one of everything in a glass bottle was in a pool on the floor. Half full drum of dieso must have leapt in fear and planted itself beside the hut. Two good rockfalls, one either side of the hut but well back at the base of the hill; and hundred or so yards away. Went into Windsor Bay enroute to Hurd to find many rockfalls all along its length. A few of them went through the penguins crushing 100 or more and 1 ele seal.

Green Gorge hut log 11/2/80 — Howie & Gazbo

Very little earthquake-induced landslides north of Luci (unlike south end of the island).

Station log 30/11/92

An earth tremor occurred at 5:30pm and was recorded in all field huts with Bauer Bay feeling 3 shakes. The scale in the BMR room went off the scale — only the second one in the year which we have felt.

Station log 18/9/2000

An earthquake happened at 0428 this morning at 22km from the island and the strength could not be determined as it was too close for the formula to be correct. In my opinion the way it shook my bunk made it quite a strong one!

Station Log 07/12/2006

Our first earthquake at 0735, low rumble for 15–20 seconds with a very strong section in the middle. A call from Hurd Point — they experienced the same tremor. 

Proud to be the 69th Macquarie Island ANARE

There’s a new future ahead for Macca. We are proud to be the Macquarie Island wintering team and the 69th ANARE.