Shelley, congratulations on your very impressive prospectus. Best wishes for your own work on the freshwater environs.
50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
A Hydra writhed below my feet, waves’ crashed beyond my right shoulder, and somewhere high above me my pack hung off a ledge. This is adventure science in action, and easily exaggerated. With only 19 days left on the island we have to complete our field research program in less than ideal conditions. Jo, Colin and I have been at Penguin Bay this week collecting soils, plants and insects in order to study how the massive decline in Rockhopper Penguin numbers is influencing other trophic levels, like plants for example. One of my other jobs in this far West corner of the island was to collect a small red seaweed (Porphyra – the sushi seaweed) and a couple mysterious species of limpet. Our sampling around the penguin colony had taken all day, pushing sushi-seaweed and limpet sampling to the next morning, our planned departure date from the bay, and a day of much skungier weather.
I snuck out from the hut next morning into gusts of due Easterly (the black wind of death) and nagging rain. Above the rocky terrace where my limpet quarry was fastened to slimy limestone I fixed a sling around a rocky outcrop. I chucked my short rope over the ledge and followed it down. The descent below the ledge was not particularly steep, but on the greasy rock feet slip-up and out all too easily. I only had a short rope with me (but I’m pleased I had that – big thanks to Alice and Lindsay at Aspiring Enterprises) so I attached my pack and another sling to the end of it, to give me another few metres, then I scuffled down the last part of the face. The Easterly had licked up a bit of a chop on the sea by this stage and together with fleeting glimpses of some sea beast hard by my feet I was pretty determined to get out of there quick. A few limpets and a small snaplock-bag of seaweed later and I was scrambling back up to my pack, and the 9 hour tramp in the rain back to Base via Rocky Bay. All good fun.