Macquarie Island CruiseCruise Macquarie Island
While Antarctica is enjoying some tranquility far below the thundering South Ocean' s trade wind, Macquarie Island is in the midst of this foaming mix of meteorological and wave activity, a minute spot of firm ground right on the way from violent storm and some of the harshest sailings on the entire world.
Sailing directly from Tasmania takes three full working nights at anchor to Macquarie Island, or you can join a merchant cruise liner and make your way across the subantarctic isles of New Zealand. Snares, Auckland Island and Campbell Island offer way points and occasionally quiet accommodation. Crossing from Campbell Island to Macquarie is no less than a good working holiday, and possibly twice as much if the Southern Ocean makes an uprising.
There are very few cruise liners in this part of the globe; it is too isolated and the voyage is often considered too hard for the passenger comforts. The Heritage Expeditions is not active in the cruise industry, but rather focuses on adventures rather than recreation. Since 15 of these 25 years he spends Christmas in the Southern Ocean and follows in the adventures of his fathers Rodney Russ, who started the comany.
Before we drove along the coast of Macquarie Island the darkest sea for our whole trip. Undoubtedly, a Southern Ocean cruise is a voyage to the most hazardous bodies of water in the underworld. Nathan wanted to keep the promises of maniacs and scores of scores at the research station.
The most vivid memory of two week cruising in the Southern Ocean is not the voyage itself, but the few valuable lessons you spend in one of the world's most unparalleled World Heritage Sites. Ripples are fading over a series of vulcanic sands to hit the hundred thousand of poplars trapped on the small strips of the shore, the fight between bull seal slapping a ton of meat against each other and the busy area of the regal penguin bouncing in and out of the breakers like UK backpack tourists in Bondi.
If you are not a parkranger or explorer, you have very restricted accessibility to the larger areas of Macquarie Island and our lands on land are accompanied at all hours of the year. During our stay in Macquarie we landed twice in two nights, the first one in the afternoons sun along Sandy Bay, and the second one we spend half a full working night at the research station and the local wild animals over the narrow straits of Buckles Bay.
A whole cruise liner sailing together with a Zodiac may sound like an invitation, but in fact 50 men on the shore with ten thousand birds are a very liberal relationship. There' re many pinguins to see. I' m here for the black and white penguin, and especially the royal penguin.
They' re perfect for the seaside setting, a sleek grey-white outfit with a touch of amber and bronce. Just like the pebble stones on Macquarie Island, no two royal pens are alike, each with its own fine variation in colour and comedy. As soon as I leave the circle and go to the shore, the monarchs take note and walk by with interest.
Pinguins have not yet recognized the phenomenon of taking photographs, but are obviously inquisitive. You' ve got to lay down on the shore before a kingsinguin can really rule you. It' looks potentially perilous when a strong, pointed bill is tossed into their feet, but they pick with interest rather than anger before making a few chuckling sounds under them and going down the ding.
They always seem to be somewhere, and the kingly ones give the feeling that they are awfully behind schedule. A small stretch of Sandy Bay has become a multi-lane road for the majesty between the penguin kings' settlements, and they make up for what they don't have in terms of bodyweight.
It was a sunshine day on Macquarie Island, watching Royals' ripples bounce down the shore to dive into the sea and chill out. It' going to be a convivial trip, when the Royal Rafters babble on the waters, apparently carefree about the sea seasons when the seal leopards arrive on the island.
King pguins belong to the penguin species, which also include Rockhopper and Macaroni, and their fierce clumps of yellows above their forehead give them a funny look that enhances their personalities. Everyone wears his coat of arms in a different way, by rising from the sea and striking back the comb like a flat-footed James Dean, throwing the saltwater freely with a shaking of the skull, or concealing himself under the algae that have come down, which have exactly the same brownish-yellow color.
The end of December is a good season to be on the subantarctic isles. There is still a good opportunity to see some of the chickens, and many of them, and so far off the southern pole they are well underway. Macquarie Island is relatively ice-free further down the southern coast in summer in comparison to the Arctic land mass, and that's exactly how pinguins like it.
Macquarie Island royal and rockhopper guinea pigs, royal guinea pigs and genetos take full use of the nestings ashore and the fodder rush off the coast. The Buckles Bay has a sound populations of jackass pguins and their chickens have arrived at an advanced stage where they can really challenge their mothers. Throughout the day, genuine male puppies will make great efforts to annoy the parent of others, the need to fill their stomachs and overcome the tag of pens as they are begging without success from other people.
In contrast to the regal pinguins found only on Macquarie Island, it is very widespread throughout Antarctica. However, they can also live further southwards in the cooler climes where the specialized Adélie penguin thrives on the abundance of Arctic ices.
The Macquarie countryside is dominated by royal penguins in December, with a population of over 200,000 royalty in Lusitania Bay and many more. Unlike the graceful suits of grown-up monarchs, chickens walk around in fleecy pajamas of penguins. Wherever the settlement meets to drive chickens, the shore looks like a nursery school asleep.
For a while I was sitting on a chick sock in Sandy Bay with one of the ranger parks, and we were watching the crib of the royal chickens spend its time. Some chickens harass foreigners for food, but most are waiting with patience for their conscientious parent to come back with clean seafood.
The reunification of mom and kid, or dad and kid, is a small wonder with several hundred almost identically sized chickens in a small bay. Chickens have a way to let the parent know that they need to eat by stubbornly picking and bumping the adult's bill until a bole of partly indigested flesh is strangled up.
After spending several hrs with the queens, I realized that many of the grownups were more concerned about chickens than balls. It' enchanting to be chased by an overly nosy royal guinea pig and all of a sudden have a bill that looks at your nostrils, less attractive if it's a full-grown bulldog who wants you off his sandy spot.
The Tasmania Park and Gamelife Service is in charge of Macquarie Island and the rangers' expertise is obvious. Initially a vast ocean of gray and bay pinguins, it becomes a complicated organisational structure when a petrologist is on point. They are a must on Macquarie Island and far from being an impediment to exploring, they allow travelers to see the animals up close.
Specifying which parts of Macquarie Island's natural environment are accessible to tourists, how to communicate with the fauna without polluting it and how many humans can land at the same moment can protect the island's unrivalled ecological heritage without hiding from the world. Cruise liners cannot be allowed to land in any place and disturb the nesting populations, for the benefit of the animal and the traveller himself.
Not only are they ardent sources of information about subantarctic ecosystems, they also enable research into better managing and protecting the island's fauna. It is ironic that the story of imported biodiversity controls on Macquarie Island is a story of good intent with unexpected consequences. With the other imported varieties, the difficulty is their capacity to kill the tufts and other indigenous plants that have developed on the island.
The effects of the imported varieties on Macquarie Island will be called into question in autumn 2010 by the world's biggest pesticide program. At the same time, the Federal Government is financing an action to eliminate rabbits, and mouse population on the whole island. This is the kind of ambition that was defined by the New Zealand government in 2001 when it used a helicopter and poisoned bait to free the Campbell Island mammals.
Several of the same Campbell Island members will be working on Macquarie Island this year. During the extermination of Campbell Island, Pete Tyree was a New Zealand Department of Conservation ranking and logistic official, and was present on my cruise to Macquarie Island as a member of the Heritage Expedition crews.
People have first-hand experience of how much the habitat on Campbell Island has changed since the rodent removal. There is also a wide range of Albatros wildlife on Macquarie Island, although cruise ship guests are more likely to see the bird crossing the ocean than to stand on the sands.
Macquarie Island's dwindling habitats are obvious to the professionals, but so is the rugged natural beauties of this bleakout. People like Pete best explain the island mystique. "that Macquarie Island is simply an astonishing place. "Interacting with the deep penguin has changed my whole existence."