At the moment, Lisa and I are living out on Béchervaise Island, just the two of us and over 1000 penguins.
We are only a few kilometres from Mawson station, but with the sea ice deteriorating, we moved to the island in December so that we could continue the long term monitoring work on the Adéélie penguins that breed here.
We live quite comfortably in a permanent field camp comprising several huts and we have enough water for about eight weeks (without melting any extra snow) and food to last even longer. The water and additional food was brought over in November with assistance from the ‘Mawson Removal Company', whose services I can recommend. They are an enthusiastic and efficient crew!
This season we have a focus on tracking the Adélie penguins. We have been attaching GPS and dive loggers to adults (we use tape to secure them to the penguin’s feathers) to gather data on where they are foraging through the breeding season and how deep they are diving. Adélie penguins can dive to over 100m! To get the data from these devices we need to retrieve them, so we keep a close eye on the comings and goings around the colony so we know when the birds return carrying all the data.
Currently on the island, some of the Adélie penguin chicks are getting big enough to be left alone by their parents, forming créches for protection while their parents go out to forage for enough food for their growing offspring. The chicks are starting to explore their world, and it is entertaining to see them climbing onto rocks, interacting with their peers in the créches and surrendering to sleep in the afternoon sunshine.
By Anna Lashko