The summer season has officially commenced at Macca with the arrival of the first resupply ship and we learn more about Macca’s most well-loved locals: The gentoo penguins

Summer season commences at Macquarie Island

Exciting times this week at Macca with the arrival of the French Navy icebreaker L'Astrolabe on Tuesday.

As part of her maiden voyage to the French Antarctic station Dumont d'Urville, L'Astrolabe completed a resupply of cargo and transfer of 10 new expeditioners for the Australian Antarctic program to Macquarie Island. The arrival of the new expeditioners officially marks the commencement of the summer season at Macca.

  • Across the summer season, a total of 19 summer expeditioners will be focused on a range of important science projects including:
  • Ongoing monitoring by the Albatross and Giant Petrel Program researchers
  • A geology project collecting basalt samples to determine the age and origin of the magmatism along the Australian-Pacific plate boundary
  • Monitoring ecosystem responses after the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project, including invertebrates, burrowing petrels and skua
  • A conservation project focused on monitoring the critically endangered Azorella macquariensis
  • The collection of lake sediment samples to study climatic and ecosystem changes.

Macquarie Island’s resident gentoos

Gentoos (Pygoscelis papua) are the most prominent penguin species around the station here are Macquarie Island. They are a very distinctive black and white penguin with an orange-red bill and bright orange feet. Unlike the other species normally found at Macquarie Island that come and go throughout the year (kings, royals and rockhoppers), gentoos stay here all year, feeding locally and returning to land each day.

Expeditioners have been keeping a close eye on the local gentoos’ progress since they started setting up their nests, sometimes in clever places like along the fence surrounding the Bureau of Meterology observation equipment where they are protected from big oblivious elephant seals.

The majority of the gentoos are now looking after a pair of cute fluffy chicks, though some late–starters are still incubating eggs.

Andrea Turbett — Ranger In Charge, Macquarie Island 2017/18