Around Macquarie Island, you don’t get many great days for boating so when you do, you have to make the most of it. On Friday, the science team on Macquarie Island was fortunate enough to be supported by a boat trip to transport essential equipment down-island in preparation for an intense season of fieldwork ahead.
Operating as part of Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF), the four scientists will be spending six months collecting lake samples, extracting peat cores and conducting vegetation surveys, among other tasks. Achieving this will require a lot of field equipment including enough bottles to sample 150L of water over 40 lakes, two 16kg pack rafts, and a 13kg lake corer. Figuring out how to logistically move all this gear down the island was a daunting task.
Fortunately, thanks to the assistance of the station’s boating crew along with a rare sunny and calm day, the team was able to catch a boat ride down-island, avoiding hiking the bulk of their heavy gear 16km to the Green Gorge Hut.
After completing a concise boating induction and navigating a brave protest from a weaner (baby elephant seal) who didn’t want to give up his spot on the boat ramp, the two Zodiac boats set off onto a surprisingly calm ocean. The view from the boats provided an entirely different and stunning perspective of the island and its various environments and communities.
Landing the boats at Green Gorge was a mission in itself, even on a good day, and required all-hands-on-deck. Unloading all the heavy gear was no easy feat either, and the king penguins on the beach were content to just observe with great interest but not offer a hand (or a flipper).
The success of this collaborative effort will allow the science team to base their efforts out of a more central location on the island and make this season’s logistics significantly more feasible.