The Emperors of Auster: Antarctica

Story and Photographs by Shane Ness

Perhaps the toughest creature on the planet and the only animal to breed during the Antarctic Winter, The Emperor Penguin is truly living on the edge.

Tatteredpassport

Emperor penguins keeping warm

I am off to visit Auster Rookery, which was discovered in August 1957 and named after an ANARE, Auster aircraft. Auster Rookery lies around 50km from the Australian, Mawson Station and it will take us over 2 hours, through a maze of giant ice bergs in our Hagglunds, over snow vehicle. On the way we see some weddel seals and a beautiful sunrise.

Tatteredpassport

Hagglunds and Antarctic Sunrise

Tatteredpassport

Weddel Seals and Hagglunds

We camp the night at Macey Island, in the Macey Hut “Rodgers Lodge” no idea who Rodger is? After setting up the hut and a coffee to warm up, we jump back in the Hagg and continue our journey a further 10 km to the rookery.

Tatteredpassport

Macey Hut and a Hagglunds

In the distance I see the colony, the distinctive black line amongst the white sea ice and blue ice bergs. Emperor Penguins huddle together to stay warm throughout the toughest of antarctic winters. They battle the “Katabatic Winds” which blow off the plateau and blizzards that reach 200km/h.

Tatteredpassport

The thin black line

tatteredpassport

I wonder what is going on over there?

It was one of those, I had to pinch myself moments, sitting there on the sea ice, in amongst giant ice bergs, with this penguin just chilling watching us. I think he was as interested in us, as we were of him.

Tatteredpassport

So whats going on?

tatteredpassport

Everyday i’m shuffling

In the huddle we could here the very faint chirp of emperor penguin chicks, we never saw one, they would be very protected from the cold by their fathers. This would mean that soon the females would return, and almost as soon as we thought that, in the distance we spotted two penguins making the journey back through the bergs. As they approached the huddle, all the penguins started squawking, you could feel the excitement in the males, then the females quickly disappeared into the huddle and vanished.

Tatteredpassport

The Return of the Mothers

The harshness of the Antarctic winter and the incredible toughness of these birds amazes me. They survive in this extreme environment with no food for up to 120 days. During this time the males will lose about 40%, of their body weight, around 12kgs.

tatteredpassport

So what are you guys up to?

On the walk back to the Hagg I spot an egg, sitting there on the ice, frozen. I stark reminder of how tough it really is out here in the middle of the winter.

Tatteredpassport

Frozen Egg

tatteredpassport

The sun sets and the moon rises

Thank you for visiting Tatteredpassport, if you have enjoyed this post please like and share. You can follow simply by clicking on the FOLLOW button, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and BEME.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane,

Mountain Biking Antarctica.

It is a beautiful summers day at Casey Station Antarctica, it’s a balmy zero degrees celsius, the sun is shining and not a breath of wind. A few of us decide to shoot a short film, a film to show our friends what we do in our spare time. We grab the stations mountain bikes and ride down to the rocky outcrop near the Wharf.

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Mountain Biking Antarctica

Thank you for visiting Tattered Passport, I hope you have enjoyed this short film. If you have please LIKE and SHARE with your friends. I would love to have you SUBSCRIBE, you can  Follow Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on this blog by simply clicking on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your screen.

I love hearing about your adventures, please write them in the comments below.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.


 

Hiking Observation Hill: Antarctica.

Its early morning and we learn that we will be stuck in McMurdo for another day, so we decide to hike up to the top of Observation Hill. Ob Hill as the Americans call it is a 45min hike, up a slippery slope from McMurdo Station. I chuck all my camera gear in my bag, chuck on some warm clothes and hit the trail.

We reach the first clearing and I see a plaque, I wander over a get a pretty massive shock. This is the location of the only nuclear power plant to have been operated in Antarctica. I didn’t even know there had been one down there. I learn that it was built in January/ February of 1962 and run until September of 1972, being decommissioned in 1979, producing 1800kW.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

The only Nuclear Power Plant to have operated in Antarctica

Tattered Passport

The one and only Nt Erebus

We reach the summit of Ob Hill and are treated to a pretty impressive view over McMurdo, Scott Base and Mt Erebus, the second highest volcano and the most active in Antarctica. I took a moment up here to attempt to take it all in. I was standing on top of hill, looking out over this vast expanse of frozen land, I couldn’t believe that I was here, that I was in Antarctica. This is going to be one hell of an adventure.

Tattered Passport

We make it to the top

That night we make the walk over to Scott Base to have a few drinks with our Kiwi friends at the American Night. A bunch of the Americans make the trek over and spend the afternoon mingling with there neighbours.

Tattered Passport

Visiting the Kiwi’s

Thank you for visiting Tattered Passport, if you have liked this post please Like, Share and Follow. You can follow Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, or simply click on the Follow button at the bottom of your screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.