All things marine are the theme of this week’s news from Macca.

Station update

Our week on station has been heavily influenced by all things marine this week.

The week started with many hands dedicated to removing the ocean floor and kelp forests from our doorstep. The isthmus was made trafficable, and kelp and rocks were cleared from access tracks. The green store was swept and cleaned of its load of sand that arrived in under the walls upon visiting surf. 

The surf that pounded the shore much of last week dumped a considerable load of marine debris along the west coast. Clean up efforts were limited to Bauer Bay and accessible parts of the north-west featherbed Special Management Area (SMA). A further clean up along the southern featherbed is scheduled for the end of the month. Many of these sites are a day’s walk from station and the amount of debris that we can carry back is limited, and results in much of it being cached for collection at resupply.

The mystery of the green string (fishing line) which continues to wash up on our shores remains unsolved, with approximately 500 pieces being collected over a limited section of coastline. Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife ranger Andrea Turbett is continuing with enquiries.

We were visited by two vagrant species this week! A welcome swallow was found deceased in the green store by Nick. A leopard seal was also discovered resting on west beach for part of Saturday afternoon. Additionally the Antarctic terns have been putting on a show for us congregating at the back of the multi purpose building in numbers of 40 or more.

Our trades team has been busy keeping the incinerator ‘Warren’ serviceable, as well as keeping up the maintenance on the power house and all of the plant and equipment, which is subject to the harshest of conditions here. The cold weather sees our water supply frozen again, and our plumber Ben is closely checking the water main for breaks.

On the social side we celebrated Duncan’s birthday (again) with a fun night of indoor sports. 

This week many of the Macca crew has also signed up a team of expeditioners for Dry July, in support of raising money for adults with cancer.

Antarctic toothfish tag found in marine debris

Stormy seas and strong winds blasted our island last week. When the winds abated, Jacque and Andrea set out to see how the northwest coast fared and gather marine debris.

We collected lots of junk, fresh from the sea, all along the coast. It included buoys, plastic bottles and rope, which will all be taken back to Australia for disposal. We most frequently found colourful plastic fragments and green string used for long-line fishing in the Southern Ocean.

We were lucky to spot a very small mystery item at Bauer Bay with a number on it and the contact details for NIWA. We found out later that NIWA is New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. We emailed them a photo and they quickly identified it as a fish tag used for fisheries research, such as studying fish movement patterns using tag recapture data. They are attached alongside the dorsal fin on the top of fish. The AAD also conducts a tagging program for toothfish around Macquarie Island and Heard Island.

The tag we found was from an Antarctic toothfish that was tagged in the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February 2007 by a Russian longline vessel. The fish was 85cm long at the time and was caught at 1156 metres depth. Because the tag was loose when we found it, we don’t know how the tag got here or what happened to the fish, but it had a long journey from the Ross Sea, which is southeast of Macquarie Island.

Thanks to Dr Steve Parker and his colleagues at New Zealand’s NIWA and Dr Dirk Welsford from the Australian Antarctic Division for information about the fish tag.

Andrea Turbett

Duncan’s birthday bash

With everyone back on station we celebrated Duncan’s birthday formally, with a visit to the ‘Fish and Chip Shop', which was set up in the mess.  Expeditioners placed their orders with Shazza (aka Station Leader Jacque), and their order was cooked to perfection by Chef Justin. Orders were wrapped in the newspaper of the day, and delivered with a loud screech of the relevant ticket number.

We then retired to the mess proper for ‘The Duncan Cup’ indoor sports challenge. Rounds of foosball, darts, carpet bowls (on wool blankets), and golf putting were hotly contested throughout the evening, by teams drawn from a hat. Skills honed in the recent ‘Macca Olympics’ were draw upon, with some expeditioners adopting a highly competitive outlook, seeking to recapture the victories that eluded them last time. Duncan, our brewmaster, was presented with a birthday cake prepared by Justin, in the shape of a giant bottle of ‘DB Brand’ stout.

A fun night was had by all, and the 68th ANARE crew certainly continue to invent innovative ways to celebrate our special occasions together!

The Green Sponge interview series: edition 2 with Louise Carroll

Name: Louise Carroll

From: Canberra, ACT

Previous season? Davis Summer 2011/12 and Casey Summer 2012/13 — both as BoM Forecaster

Job: Weather observer, hydroponics officer, and schools liaison and sewing officer.


What is the last thing that you sewed in your role as sewing officer? Ana’s headband. It was too big for her head.

What is the favourite part of your job here at Macca? Releasing weather balloons in 40 kt winds. 

Why? Because it is a challenge not to fly away with the balloon.

If you were exiled to Bishop and Clerk Islands to the south of Macca, what four things would you take with you? Hmmmm… my quilting project, a good book, ten layers of thermals, and a royal penguin to keep me company.

What song sums up your Macquarie Island experience so far? Jurassic Park theme music!

Favourite element of the Macca weather? Insane wind gusts.

What actor would play you in a film version of our 68th ANARE season here at Macca? Angelina Jolie from ‘A Mighty Heart'.

Favourite hut or walking route? The Overland Track highway to my favourite hut, Green Gorge.

If you were not a Meteorological Observer or a forecaster what would be your dream job? Musician.

Favourite piece of AAD kit? Fingerless gloves. Not even current AAD kit but found in the clothing store: priceless.

It is 2115 on Macca. What is the coolest thing we have on station? Flying fox to get down Doctors track. Or an elevator or something.

Please name the royal penguin on our 68th ANARE logo. Percy the Penguin.

What is your typical ‘Slushy FM’ radio genre? A particular favourite? Rock! Anything by Faith No More.

Describe Macca with: a sight, a smell, a sound, a feeling and a taste: The plateau, elephant seal poo, waves crashing, cold, lettuce from hydroponics.

Settlers of Catan, or darts? Settlers, without a doubt!

Thanks Louise, and good luck with your balloons!

The last word…