You can never have too many penguin photos

The penguins are here...

With the Antarctic recruitment drive in full swing for next season, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the real reason we all flock back to Antarctica year after year. That is, of course, the penguins.

Here at Mawson we have two main species of penguins kicking about, the emperor penguins and the Adélie penguins. I don’t like to play favourites, so let’s just say they are both super cute and extremely photogenic.

We have been very fortunate to have emperor penguins all year round with Auster Rookery just down the road, which has kept us amateur photographers nice and busy all winter long. But now that the warmer months have arrived, we are starting to see these majestic creatures a lot closer to station.

The warmer months have also brought the return of the Adélies. Mawson and its surrounding islands have become a hive of activity with Adélie penguins courting, mating and just recently, these little guys have been laying eggs.

It’s a fantastic time to get out and about down here at Mawson and I’m actually quite jealous of the next group of Antarctic expeditioners that will get to experience this magnificent part of the world next season.

Troy (SCTO)

This week...

We’ve had a busy week on station making the most of the beautiful weather, even reaching positive temperatures for the first time since we’ve been here.

The down side of the positive temperatures… melt. With such warm temps we won’t be able travel on the sea ice for much longer. As the ice rots from underneath and melts on the surface, we must measure, measure, measure to ensure we are safe to continue driving across it. Very soon, the Hägglunds will no longer be allowed, then it will just be the quads (for work activities) or by foot. Once that’s done, no more travel off the Mawson coast and we must revert to moving back up onto the plateau and visiting the mountain ranges which have loomed over us, just on the horizon, over the winter. That has to be one of the wonderful things about Mawson – winter on the sea-ice and visiting the emperor penguins, and then in summer up onto the plateau to the mountains. The best of both worlds.

As a little aside; we thought we were all set for the summer, new team arrived, trained and settled in, and moving on with summer work. But what should happen? A slip on the ice, a slightly broken expo, and sadly their summer in Antarctica has ended abruptly. The operational wheels of the Australian Antarctic Program start rotating quickly and before we knew it a flight was arriving to evacuate our fella from Mawson, through Davis and Casey, and then back to Hobart. I think we were just lucky it happened in summer rather than the middle of winter so evacuation was possible.

Other happenings, penguin counts underway; many, many days of counting the many, many thousands of the local Adélie penguins on the islands around station… That’s a lot of black and white! Vantage point photos of penguin colonies across the Rookery Islands taken. And, we’re even starting to think about packing and preparing for resupply (it is only 8 weeks away!). Which seems weird as we just had our welcome to summer dinner on Saturday night. Time will fly quickly now, but luckily the sun is up constantly so we have many hours in the day to get everything done.

Bec, SL