During the last week we celebrated Australia Day and Chris’s birthday. Most of our work activity has been directed towards preparing for our upcoming station resupply which involves refuelling the station, cargo operations and handing over the station to the 2013 Team.
A three-day blizzard last week significantly reduced the amount of sea ice in East Bay, Kista Strait and West Bay and opened up the entrance to Horseshoe Harbour. The sea ice to the north and south of Bechervaise Island, where Julie and Helen are working, also disappeared during the storm. In the days following the blizzard more and more ice has disappeared but the ice in Horseshoe Harbour still remains. Gale force winds and high tides on Wednesday will hopefully have some impact on the extent of ice in the harbour (check out the Mawson webcam).
Australia Day was a holiday although many people were working in varying capacities. The weather was inclement so we were unable to play cricket and with the harbour still full of ice there was no swimming. Wayne and various helpers fired up the spit lamb in the trades workshop and with a delightful variety of salads and accompaniments prepared by Ray we enjoyed a traditional Australian meal with a few drinks. Hendo projected the movie “Blue Ice” followed by short clips of Top Gear’s car chases and a short clip of a stunt bike champion on the big screen.
Sunday was a glorious day and many on station took the opportunity to walk along West Arm. Water was surging back and forth with the tide and it was wonderful to watch the penguins swimming underwater, then porpoising and jumping onto land to check us out. There were also many Weddell seals out, particularly in East Bay. After dinner we celebrated Chris’s birthday by enjoying a slice of birthday cake whipped up by Ray on Sunday morning. Monday was an even better day than Sunday. The light was perfect in the evening and we spotted a couple of Minke whales in West Bay.
Theo presented the ultimate Tuesday talk for our year at Mawson with an interesting presentation on Schlieran photography and Graham is prepared to present a video of the recent SIPEX II voyage on which he was the weather forecaster, if we can fit it into our heavy social calendar.