A busy week complete with ANZAC Day celebrations, a search and rescue exercise, an update from the albatross team and an engagement to celebrate!

Albatross project update

This week, ‘Team Alby’ consisting of albatross researcher Kim Kliska and Wildlife Ranger Marcus Salton, made the last ‘summer’ trip down to the south end of the island to wrap up the 2015/16 albatross and giant petrel program. Over ten days we completed work on all four albatross species, saw spectacular auroras and witnessed the grand exit of the royal penguins leaving for winter.

The albatross program monitors the breeding effort and success of all four albatross species: black-browed, grey-headed, light-mantled and wandering albatrosses. This trip we placed small leg-bands on the chicks of two species (grey headed and light-mantled) so we can identify birds individually in future years and obtain data on survival. Each month from now on we have the special privilege of visiting each wandering albatross nest to change camera batteries on the wildlife cameras that monitor chicks remotely. These cameras enable us to determine the date the chicks hatched and potentially identify parent birds and other birds present in the area, while keeping disturbance to the birds at a minimum.

Working in the field this summer has been an incredible experience and we get to witness the ever changing wildlife of Macca. Last week the royal penguin colonies literally emptied overnight, with up to 5000 birds present one day, and all gone the next! Keep an eye out for further wildlife updates over the coming months as we monitor the incredible changes occurring on Macca.

Kim and Marcus

SAR Station search exercise

The week saw us completing our first search and rescue (SAR) exercise — our scenario was a full station search looking for the ‘Three Ronnies’ who hadn’t turned up to muster after a tsunami. Clearly our SAR chief Rob loves a bit of drama in his scenarios.

All on station were involved with six teams of two being allocated different sections of the station to search according to our station search zones. The station leader, doctor and SAR chief stayed behind in the mess to coordinate everyone on radio and keep tabs on what had been searched. One Ronnie was found on Hamshack Hill, one in the science building and then everyone had to regroup to do a line search of West Beach, where the last Ronnie was ultimately found.

The exercise was completed in less than an hour with all three missing people recovered — good job all!

Not all science out in the field…

There was some romance this week as well! Marcus and Kim returned to station and announced their engagement on Friday morning, so naturally some celebration was called for. (And yes, we made all the ‘banding’ jokes.)

ANZAC Day 2016

ANZAC Day dawned dry but cloudy (so we didn’t actually see a dawn) here on Macquarie Island. We had a lovely service down at the flagpoles on the beach with Rob having set up a great video presentation — protected by a container from the weather — to go with the program. It was very poignant to actually be standing on a beach in a remote place for a dawn service.

A great big breakfast followed the service to warm everyone up and get them fueled for ‘2-up’ in the green store. As we are a cardless, keyless and cashless society here, we manufactured our own currency for play, which made the game much less stressful! The kitty grew and grew until a couple of masked bandits decided to have a crack at nabbing it! Dom won the kitty both times so ended up with everyone's money and it was game over.

We recovered from these exertions with a fabulous spitroast lamb and then a few went into a food coma or played pool in the post office. Some of us watched a screening of Gallipoli to round out the day.

A lovely ANZAC Day here on Macca.