By Alison Ballance
A team of ten people were on Antipodes Island from 17 October to 4 November 2014, to fix the damaged hut, and count penguins. Here is a selection of Alison’s photos show-casing the island and the work being carried out.
Denise Fastier sits at the top of an old slip, overgrown with white lichen , overlooking South Bay. Turning our backs to a snow and hail storm during a crossing of Mount Galloway. And the hut and castaway depot viewed from Reef Point – the large slip is visible coming down the hill behind.
A large amount of peat and debris had to be cut (first by chainsaw and then by hand after the chainsaws broke), dug out and then moved before the hut could be fixed.
In January 2014 the Antipodes Island hut, which had been built in 1979, was hit by a large debris slide, which pushed it 90 degrees out of alignment and 20 metres downhill. The hut had to be completely repiled, jacked up and made watertight in its new position.
Antipodean parakeets – the largest of the two parakeet species – were a common sight in the island’s many penguin colonies. In early November juvenile Antipodean wandering albatross chicks are beginning to lose their down and develop adult feathers. Skuas take quite a toll on the island’s seabird population, but many tens of thousands of burrowing seabirds breed here and most escape predation.
Landing on Antipodes Island is at the mercy of the sea conditions. if the swell permits the inflatable dinghy can be brought into Hut Cove, and gear unloaded through the surf. Spot the male elephant seal lurking in the shallow water next to the very wet team wading out to get gear! Equipment is hauled up the cliff to the hut using a flying fox and a derrick: pulling the loaded net up was an exercise was a full body workout!
Tens of thousands of erect-crested penguins, and hundreds of rockhopper penguins, breed on Antipodes Island. Erect-crested penguins (pair at left) have short, erect yellow crests, while rockhopper penguins (right) have long floppy yellow crests. We were counting all the penguin nests, a job that required a clicker, stamina and earplugs (counting penguins may be the noisiest job I have ever done!)
The 2014 spring expedition team in front of the hut’s new enclosed verandah. From left to right: Jo, Brian, Dan, Denise, Geoff, Kathryn, Cullum, Andy, Alison and Mark. And the team on Depot Island in the Bounty Islands, surrounded by Salvin’s albatrosses and erect-crested penguins.