This week we prepare the unprepared ski landing area, welcome the Adélie’s back and celebrate the hydroponics

The Adélies finally arrive

The long awaited Adélie penguins have arrived back at Béchervaise. On the 22nd there were seven but by the 26th there were over 200. All the islands around the station are having a similar influx with Welch and the Rookery Islands now hosting hundreds of Adélie penguins.

The first snow petrels were also spotted on the weekend up at Rumdoodle and skuas are hovering around the sea ice.

Very pregnant Weddell seals have been spotted on the rocks near station so we have our fingers crossed for a station seal pup soon.

Our happy hydro place

As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of things to be excited about in Antarctica, such as the stunning scenery, the unique wildlife and of course the many adventures. However, after nine months since we had our last fresh food delivery one of the biggest crowd pleasers is the daily fresh food grown in our hydroponics.

A team of dedicated helpers have assisted the resident ‘Hydro Master’ Shane, who leads a double life as an electrician, with the daily nurture and maintenance to grow produce that would compete with even the best farmers market. Lucky for us we all reap the rewards of leafy greens, top-notch herbs and the best of the bunch tomatoes.

Bon appétit!

Scouting for a sea ice landing area

One of the final jobs of the winter season is to assess the sea ice to make sure it is suitable for planes to land. There are three different types of landing area in the Australian Antarctic program, and at Mawson for the first few flights we have the easiest to prepare… called the “unprepared sea ice landing area”.

This basically means that we have to assess the sea ice in a designated area to make sure that it is deep enough (over 90 centimetres) and good enough quality for a plane to land on. So with the first flight only two weeks away Tony D and I headed out onto the sea ice to do some drilling and map the hazards.

It was a beautiful day, the sun and slightly warmer conditions over the last few weeks have started to melt the top layer of snow that has been covering the ice all winter. This leaves a glassy smoother surface.

There were a few chunky monkey areas, this is a technical term used to describe where the ice has frozen in a big lump. We marked those with a GPS so the pilots would be forewarned. Then on the edge of the defined area there was one big long stretch of smooth ice that hopefully the pilots will agree that it is just perfect for landing a plane.