This week we ventured onto frozen islands to take in the view and to spy on giant petrels; and we spend a day in the life of a Mawson plumber.

Out into the wild yonder — Thorgaut Island

Over the winter, particularly in July and August, we were constantly being hit with blowing snow, high winds and appalling visibility. This poor weather had slowed down many of our adventures out into the wild yonder.

During the week, the weather gods smiled on us and gave us blue skies, no wind and a clear horizon. Pete and I took advantage of this and left early Saturday morning for a day of checking out a newly found jade berg near Thorgaut Island.

With the golden sun fairly high in the sky by the time we had arrived at the island, we did miss out on seeing the cleanest, least snowy side of the berg in full sun. However this didn’t diminish the experience at all as we were treated to deep greens and an eerie light seeming to come from inside the iceberg.

Walking through the area attracted a waddle of local juvenile delinquents, the emperor penguins raced up to us like a bunch of BMX bandits. We exchanged our pleasantries, the penguins grew bored and wandered off to wherever they were going, giving Pete and I the opportunity to make our way to the top of the Thorgaut Island to look at the view and see if any other wildlife had returned to the area.

A few young Weddell seals had made a hole in the ice and hauled themselves out, ready for an exciting spring time of laying around, swimming and feeding. As we returned to station, we dropped in on a few more seals near Paterson Island who treated us to a chorus of their squeaks, barks and whistles.


Team Plumb

A day in the life of a plumber at Mawson consists of a huge variety of tasks ranging from pumping water daily, rebuilding a pump or repairing a broken pipe. A typical day starts by pumping water using our melt bell and recording our daily usage, it tends to be all downhill from there as the water supply building is at the top of the hill. The day will progress to working through our monthly maintenance schedule as well as responding to the occasional breakdown.

A task that may not be elegant but is critical to this pristine environment is managing our waste water treatment plant.  We do this by monitoring and essentially farming bacteria that eat our waste.

It’s not pretty but it’s one of the jobs here that really makes a difference to our impact here.

The varied work here at Mawson is plenty to keep us busy and often calls upon all of our combined experience, larger plumbing jobs call on the whole of the infrastructure team for assistance and moral support.


Spy-cam in Antarctica

This week a small team had the privilege of entering an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) in the Rookery Islands 20 kilometres up the coast from Mawson station to service and download automated cameras (Antarctic spy-cam!). The cameras are set up to spy on southern giant petrels that will soon return to the Rookery Islands to breed.

The ASPA is designated to protect breeding colonies of the five bird species known to breed in the region, including the southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus) and the cape petrel (Daption capensis) which are not known to occur elsewhere in the region.

The area is one of only four known southern giant petrel breeding colonies in East Antarctica.

We hope to download and share some footage of the southern giant petrels in the later part of our summer months here at Mawson.

Until next time,