Spring has arrived on Macquarie Island and there’s a lot of love happening all around us. The elephant seal pups have turned into fat little weaners, and like all teenagers they love to congregate in packs with their friends.
Around station, especially near the Met building, comms building and station gate, you have to negotiate the horde of sleeping seals to pass through the area. Fortunately the weaners are friendly and curious so at most you’ll get a toothless bark or a pair of big eyes opening to watch your progress. Things are perhaps slightly less cordial with their parents.
The harems are rapidly shrinking as the cows return to the ocean for food. The remaining beachmaster contenders are battling it out for some friendly flipper action with the cows. A wide berth is given when walking near the harems to avoid getting caught between a bull and the cow. There’s been more than a few romantic ocean encounters witnessed as the cows make a break for the sea.
The penguin families are all loved up, with Gentoo chicks nearly as big as their parents. Expeditioners love walking down to Razorback to visit them and watch their antics. The chicks big feet and small bodies make for hours of entertainment.
The Royal and Rockhopper penguins have returned after spending winter feeding at sea. Around the rocks of the Ham Shack a few shy Rockhoppers can be spied by eagle eyed expeditioners. The Royals have filled up their colonies at Sandy Bay and Bauer Bay. Many are paired up now and incubating their eggs while the usual colony fracas occur and invasion by hungry GPs and skuas eager for an egg to eat.
The Macquarie Island shags have been working hard building their nests. They can be seen raiding the Gentoo nests for materials and picking up moss from Cos-ray rocks to ensure they have the perfect space to raise their offspring. On the tracks the occasional northern Giant Petrel chick has been spotted as their parents raise them in the tussocks.
Meanwhile the spring weather has seen the most number of sunshine days and low winds since we’ve been on the island. Expeditioners are awaking from their winter hibernation. They can be seen all over station loving wearing sunglasses and occasionally having some bare skin to soak up the vitamin D.
We’ve all been loving assisting the science projects with elephant seal counts, penguin counts, seabird monitoring, and albatross decoy transport.
To take Led Zepplin out of context, it is really is a whole lotta love here on Macquarie Island!
Until next time, Kate (Antarctic Medical Practitioner)