Some amazing fur seal pups feature in this week’s Macca station news along with station fire training.

Fur seal pups at Macquarie Island

We have been counting fur seal pups on the beaches of North Head (the northern end of the island) to estimate how many pups are born here this year. The pups are very cute and are usually found sleeping on piles of kelp on the beaches or exploring rock pools.

Macquarie Island was discovered by sealers in July 1810 and the fur seals were quickly exterminated — within ten years an estimated 200,000 fur seals had been killed. In 1821 it was observed, ‘at one time the island abounded with seals, but now it is a very rare thing to see one; only four were killed last year’ (as recorded by J.S. Cumpston in his book 'Macquarie Island'in 1968).

Fur seals were first recorded breeding here again in 1954, over 130 years after the cessation of sealing. The population has slowly increased and now almost 300 pups are born each year on the beaches of North Head, the only place on the island where they bred until recently. During the last few years pups have also been observed at Handspike Point on the west coast and along the north-east coast. Access to the North Head beaches is restricted to protect their important breeding habitat.

Macquarie Island now has a unique fur seal population because there are three species — the endangered sub-Antarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis), the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) and the long-nosed fur seal (A. forsteri). The breeding population mainly consists of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic fur seals, with some hybridisation.

By Andrea (Ranger-In-Charge)

Macca fire training

This week at the Macca, the loud sound of the fire alarm was heard, thankfully it was only a training drill!

On hearing the fire alarm, our Macca fire team hastily assembled at the fire hut, not knowing what they might be responding to. As this was only a training drill, a scenario was read out to the team. In this training scenario, a LPG cylinder was leaking gas which caught on fire as it was being moved by the fork lifter, trapping the driver in the cabin.The fire team had earlier in the week covered methods and safety aspects in combating LPG fires or gas leaks, it was now time for them to put their skills into action.

Under the command of Fire Chief Emry, the team responded. Changing quickly into their protective firefighting clothing and wearing breathing apparatus on their backs, they responded to the Green Shed. Emry instructed the team to roll out fire hoses and get ready to rescue the training casualty. The firefighting pump was started by our mechanic Lionel and water was soon flowing. Fire team member Kerri had water on fast, cooling the LPG cylinders and pushing the pretend flames away from the training casualty. Fire team members Wayne and Geoff rescued the casualty using the protection of the water from fire hose. The casualty was passed over to fire team members Nick and Matt who were ready to start first aid. The team then checked the Green Shed to make sure that the pretend fire outside at the LPG cylinder had not spread to a pretend fire inside. Thankfully, the pretend fire had not spread!

Although this was only a training drill, our fire team is on standby to respond to real fires and incidents, day or night. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Macca fire team members for their work protecting our lives and the stations where we are living.

By Mark (Senior Field Training Officer)