This week, Macca’s summer seabird chicks and search & rescue training take centre stage.

Macca’s summer seabird chicks

With summer in full swing, lots of seabird species that breed here are looking after rapidly growing chicks, most of the chicks are already developing adult plumage (feathers). As a remote speck of land in the Southern Ocean, Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area provides essential sub-Antarctic breeding habitat for these seabirds.

Four types of chicks are prominent at the moment in the Sandy Bay area on Macquarie Island’s east coast.

Royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli) chicks are transitioning from their chick fluff (down) to their adult feathers. Some are starting to develop their distinctive yellow crests. Most of these chicks will start to go to sea in late February to learn to fend for themselves.

Northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli) chicks are nearly fully grown. Their parents have been looking after them since August in scattered colonies or solo nests along Macquarie Island’s rugged coast.

Skua (Catharacta lonnbergi) chicks have nearly all their adult feathers, with just a small amount of brown fluff left. They’ve been fed all summer on prey their parents bring them, often royal penguin eggs or scavenged remains of other animals. The chicks have been stretching their new wings and will fledge (take their first flight) soon.

The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) chicks are the newest arrivals. Eggs have been incubated on the parents’ feet and started hatching in mid-January. The chicks will remain in the colonies all winter, they will not go to sea for about twelve months!

By Andrea (Ranger-In-Charge)


Macca search and rescue summer training

Sea cliffs emerging straight out of the Southern Ocean and scree slopes vanishing in the clouds above. It is no secret that the terrain of Macquarie Island is steep and rugged. For the expeditioners on Macquarie Island negotiating this challenging terrain is normal day to day life. Occasionally, things can go wrong in this terrain, resulting in potential injuries. This is why expeditioners are trained in search and rescue.

Recently, all expeditioners were trained in rope rescue skills and techniques in carrying a patient in a stretcher, over very steep and rugged terrain. During the week, all expeditioners had a training session on different aspects of search and rescue. This was followed up by an exercise conducted from the station.

In the exercise, the search and rescue team had to find a life size dummy which had slipped and fallen off the walking track on a steep slope, around two kilometers from the station. The casualty was found and carefully loaded into the stretcher, which was carried to the top of a grassy slope. The stretcher, assisted by three rescuers, was lowered by the rope rescue team down to the beach below.

The stretcher, with the dummy strapped in, was carried from the beach using different methods back to the station by all the Macquarie Island search and rescue team.

It was great to see the station working together to perform this complex rescue in difficult terrain.

We all hope that we will never have to use these skills but we are ready if they are called upon.

By Mark (Senior Field Training Officer)