Environmental science, team work, a nautical party and Australia Day — great stories and pics from Casey station.

Australia Day celebrations

Happy Australia Day to all our friends and family around the country! 

Environmental signatures

Antarctica is often perceived as pristine, however small areas of localised pollution occur within close proximity to Antarctic stations. Prior to the 1980s it was common practice to simply dump rubbish in conveniently located areas close to station, incinerate waste or push it out onto sea ice. The Thala Valley tip site located near Casey station was used for many years prior to clean up approximately 10 years ago. Australia now removes all waste produced on station, however some contamination remains.

This season, fish and shellfish are being collected from a number of contaminated sites and clean sites to assess human impact. Fish (Antarctic rock cod) samples will be analysed back in Australia for a number of contaminants including metals and organic pollutants. The cellular biology of the fish will be analysed, and scientists will be looking at a number of organs which allow for determination of sub-lethal impacts. Alteration to normal tissue structure can tell us the health of the fish. This will give us an indication of the level of impact still occurring from the Thala Valley tip site. Species specific bio-markers will provide a suite of in situ bio-monitoring tools to determine risk, and evaluate remediation success.

To assist our scientist in her project, a number of other station science projects are supplying fish for analysis. A true sense of competition has developed between the AntFOCE and hydrographics team members as to who can catch the most and largest fish. Strangely enough the largest fish caught to date has been a whopping 23 cm and that was by the station doctor.

Taking one for the team

One of the more onerous, but very important tasks, for the trades team this season was the clearing over 20 years of accumulated ice and snow in order to reseal the upper fuel farm bunded area. This season we embarked on the job of clearing, mostly by hand, all the compacted ice around the base of the fuel tanks in order to reseal the joins in the concrete bund.

With the gracious assistance of the Ken Borek Air pilots and mechanics the team of Cookie, James and Danny (occasionally assisted by the ESS) set about the task and succeeded in completing the job in record time. Hopefully now that the bund is resealed the repair will last another 20 years.

Being a tradie on station is a much sought after position (just ask a tradie) and in an effort to join this elite group, some of the non-tradie expeditioners made a big effort to join the club.

Nautical night

Casey has a very active and imaginary social committee this year, and this week they organised a theme night: nautical. Being on an Antarctic station means having to create a lot of your own fun and social activities.

It is amazing to see what outfits can be created once a theme has been set and no effort is spared in trying to come up with the best outfit. I think a special mention must go to our two navy colleagues who came up with a great navy outfit, in the ‘HMAS Casey'.

An amazing evening was held!