Archive for May, 2011

Spinning Yarn: I am surprized #84

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

On Macquarie Island, they spin! I was so pleased to see it. I expected to be able to see the rabbit fur being spun, or the baling twine that washes up on the beach to be collected enough to be spun, or the long grass that grows on the far side to be dried and spun, but no…..It was much simpler than that…..

 Check it out…..


Spinning Yarn: Calling All Rabbit Fur! #83

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

 It’s a pity that rabbits do not have blubber, they could be melted down instead…. You should see what they are doing to the island! It looks like a moonscape! Rabbits were introduced to the island as a way to feed shipwrecked sailors. Left alone for a few years, the rabbits multiplied so much that shipwrecked sailors could not keep up with the numbers – and even the skuas (Antarctic vultures) have trouble. Poison is the answer, and there is pallets of it ready to be distributed – just waiting for the right weather day.

 In the evenings, we had briefings on our progress, what latitude we were, how far we’d come, our speed, etc — all the statistics. We also shared the day’s best photos. Macquarie Island day had this great photo of two flying skuas fighting over a rabbit. Having just seen first hand the devastation these animals cause, a rousing cheer went up for these enterprising skuas. It put me in mind of a soccer game – Skuas 1, Rabbits ½ each!(or should that be Skuas ½ each, Rabbits 0)

Spinning Yarn: Macquarie Meltdown #82

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Weather is reported daily from the station at Macquarie Island. Staffed all year round, some people are there for as much as a year, maybe 2. All have their specialties, and we found out that the chef’s specialty was fresh scones and jam for morning tea. Lovely!

Crossing the isthmus, making our way back to the beach, we stopped for a spot of history. Standing there as a reminder – and too heavy to move! – we stared at these huge great cauldrons. In the last century, blubber was the fuel for lighting, heating and cooking, and when the seals ran out, the penguins were the next target! So curious were the penguins, wondering what the workers were up to, that they would go right up to the pots, peek over and fall in – to be processed into blubber for export to countries far and wide. When  curiosity killed the cat, it moved on to penguins! Kerosene saved the species!

Spinning Yarn: Land of Emperors and Kings #81

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

 Thousands of birds make their living fishing at Macquarie. The amazing volcanic sea rocks shelter and protect the colonies, and the food tries to hide under the great green leathery fronds of kelp that waver with the swell of the southern ocean.

 Macquarie Island, Campbell Island, the Auckland group and New Zealand are all on the join of the tectonic plates in this part of the globe. The whole area is volcanic and quite old. When the plates mesh, they quake, of course, and the islands rise a bit further out of the sea.

Spinning Yarn: Elephants on the Beach #80

Friday, May 6th, 2011

 Buffeted by the winds, we made our way to the back beach where the sea elephants were bumping chests together. Huge animals, and I think quite ugly, they are a forbidding sight. In this case, 5m was not enough!

 The beach is littered with bones and skulls. When the Sea Elephants die, they are usually up on the high tide line so the ocean does not take away the remains — not much is left anyway, once the skuas (Antarctic “sea gulls” scavengers) have their fill!

 Also strutting on the beach, in gangs – which is something I did not expect, – are king penguins. For all the world, they look like street kids, on the lookout for adventure. I smiled – and moved on. I wasn’t game!