Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heading further south

Highlights of Gary’s progress on the 
Our Far South Expedition
February 15, 2012
Port Ross & Enderby Island
We awoke to find ourselves at anchor off Enderby Island in Port Ross. Today was a busy one, while most of the crew went ashore, we set up the sea floor sampling equipment and recovered some grab samples of the sea floor. Mostly sand, which is not surprising given that we were sitting offshore Sandy Bay. We also set up the corer but didn’t manage to recover any core in the loose sand. After lunch we took a zodiac across to Rose Island where we deployed a hydrophone for Trudi Webster. The hydrophone will sit there recording for the next six months, n which time, it will hopefully record the return of the Southern Wright Whale for their next breeding season. Trudi plans to recover the hydrophone from Polaris in its upcoming winter voyage to the Auckland Islands. With work complete by about 2pm we were then able to go ashore and have a look around Enderby Island. Ashore we met Louise Chilvers who has spent the summer carrying our the sea lion monitoring programme and then set a brisk pace for the 8km walk around the Island. We saw plenty of nesting shags and several seals with rather large shark bite sized scars in their sides. But the most memorable image in my mind is the beautiful red of the flowering Rata.

Carnley Harbour
Over night, the ship transited to Carnley Harbour which is in the southern part of the Auckland Is. The Harbour sits between the main Auckland Island and Adams Island to the south. The ship anchored off Raynal Point, close to the still visible wreck of the Grafton, where we managed to retrieve several grab samples of mud and a short core of mud and shell horizons using the piston corer.
Macquarie Island
Wow – what a different place. Macquarie is a relatively young Island that came out of the sea only 600,000 years ago. Geologically the Island is a segment of the ocean crust that has been exhumed at the southern end of the plate boundary between Australia and New Zealand. Macquarie is an Australian nature reserve administered by the Tasmanian Parks Service. We were able to go ashore at Sandy Bay, which is on the more sheltered eastern side of the island. Sandy Bay is home to a King Penguin and a Royal Penguin colony. We were also lucky enough to see Elephant Seals fighting on the Beach and a few Orca swimming offshore. Early this morning we were able to take a sea floor sample from Buckles Bay while we waited for the Parks Rangers to come aboard and be our guides for the day. At this point we are well into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current but the ocean conditions around the island are clearly very rough and we were only able to collect sand in the grab sampler. But the most stunning part of the visit here was my first sighting of the Aurora Australis at 1 am when we arrived and set anchor last night.

Coming up….. the ANARE station at Macquarie and then down wind to the Ice Edge

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