Leopard seal cruising, ‘ripping’ auroras and fond farewells this week at Casey station.

Leopard seal cruise

With the last of the summer crew finishing their final packing, there was enough time and good weather to get one last ‘berg cruise in before the sea ice becomes locked in for the winter. The ‘bergs were smaller than earlier in the year but the wildlife was just spectacular.

We encountered emperor penguins, Adelie penguins, skuas and leopard seals. The leopard seals are waiting for the Adelie penguin moult to be over and for the young chicks take their first swim. At one point we had up to six leopard seals checking the boat out from a safe distance, with one swimming under the boat and giving us all an idea as how big an animal they are.

By this time, our skippers where getting ready to move to a safer distance should they show any interest in the boat but the seals soon decided that penguins taste better and moved away as we slowly cruised down the coastline back to Casey.

What great way to end the summer season!

Ripping auroras

Tuesday 18 March saw the first aurora of the season light up the night sky, putting on a great show before the cloud came in. For most, this did not disappoint.

The photos below were used by The Mercury newspaper and taken by one of Casey’s winter staff. Here is an extract for the Mercury website: “Tasmania has a growing reputation as a place to view and capture the aurora australis, but arguably still the best viewing spot is from the South Pole*, which is where Australian Antarctic Division Casey station mechanical supervisor Gordon T captured his amazing images on Tuesday night”.

National Geographic are calling this “the most powerful solar storm in years” which has putting on a spectacular show from Antarctica to Hobart, Tasmania and ever further north to mainland Australia.

*Casey station is located 2636 kms away from the South Pole, on the coast of Antarctica.  

Fond farewells

We're a bit late with this one but we wanted to say a fond farewell to our summer colleagues. The last night on station was spent on Reeves Hill by most of the station to watch a spectacular sunset, and it seemed a fitting close to what was a busy summer season that will leave memories for a lifetime, for us all.

With new lifelong friends and a last chance to hang out with the winter crew staying behind, it was time to say goodbye to the summer crew, leaving a very empty and quite red shed. The last act for summer was for all those departing to take the three hour trip up to Wilkins aerodrome to catch the last flight out of Casey for this season.

For the winter crew staying behind, this is the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. Everyone is busy prepping for the long winter ahead and adjusting to station life on a much smaller scale, but with no less enthusiasm.