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  • A report and images taken as part of ASAC (AAS) project 380 - Archaeological Investigation of Sealing Sites at Heard Island. Taken from the report: From November 1986 to January 1987 the authors participated in the ANARE expedition to Heard Island. Our objectives were: 1) To undertake a survey of historic archaeological sites of Heard Island and to compile an inventory of sites. 2) At the request of the Antarctic Division to salvage certain sealing-era artefacts identified in the 1985/86 ANARE report as being at risk. 3) At the request of the Antarctic Division, to record the site of the historic ANARE station at Atlas Cove, to assess the significance of surviving site features and make recommendations for the conservation of significant elements. 4) To provide a report to the Australian Heritage Commission documenting the location, description and assessment of the various sealing and other historic places located during the 1986-87 expedition. Sealing sites on Heard Island can be categorised into five types based on structural and functional differences. These five types are: a) stone platforms b) hut footings or ruins c) occupied caves d) barrels e) grave All types of sites are found on the various beaches around the island, except that stone platforms appear to be confined to the southern beaches, and only one grave is known.

  • Antarctica is the world's greatest remaining wilderness area. It plays a significant role in many global environmental issues such as wind and water currents and world weather patterns. State of the Environment Reporting: - provides a 'snap-shot' of the status of the Antarctic environment - relies on long-term monitoring of environmental and other variables - allows the detection of trends and patterns, which may be due to natural variability or human-induced (anthropogenic) pressures Why are we interested? State of the Environment Reporting allows us to: - assess the quality of the Antarctic environment - identify threats to the Antarctic environment - monitor the pressures we exert on it and track the impact and efficiency of our activities in the Antarctic. How do we do it? State of the Environment Reporting is based on environmental indicators. Indicators: - are data that summarise physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic factors which best represent the key elements of the environment - are grouped into themes We have developed a web-accessible computer system called SIMR that manages the indicator data, metadata, and custodian information. The system automatically prompts custodians for data and evaluations when required and can produce reports on indicators via the web whenever requested.

  • Taken from sections of the Report (paraphrased): Introduction In August 1991, I was approached to go to Antarctica for 3 months, detached to AUSLIG, to conduct survey tasks at Mawson and Heard Island over the 1991/1992 field season. The following is my report to AUSLIG/ANTARCTIC Division outlining all results of my participation in the field season. The Mawson campaign began on 01 Dec 91, with the departure of RSV Aurora Australis from Hobart. The experience of working in Antarctica was invaluable and the opportunity to contribute to the scientific development of the AAT was appreciated. In terms of achievement the season was a success, with only a small number of pre-assigned field tasks in the Mawson and Heard Island areas not being completed. Operations Several tasks were required to be conducted over the field season, in accordance with briefs received prior to departure. A sequence of events is attached. SCAR 92 GPS Project. GPS Observation Pillar Tide Gauge Deployment Colbeck Archipelago and Taylor Glacier Scullin Monolith On Station Control Photo Identification of Off-Shore Control Heard Island Miscellaneous

  • Report of the 1985 A.N.A.R.E to Heard Island. This document contains the following scientific reports: Zoology - elephant seals, fur seals, General Zoology - leopard seals, fish, insects, birds; Botany - lant communities, lichens and mosses; Limnology - Zooplankton and phytoplankton; Earth Sciences - meteorology, geomagnetism, glaciology, general mapping, general phenomena; Miscellaneous Collections; History; Environmental Impact Assessment; Site Clean up; Building report and Camp inventory; Logistics; Field Operations; Recommendations; Bibliography; Appendix. Taken from the report: The 1985 ANARE to Heard island was of greater duration than any since 1963, although brief stopovers have been made by other ANAREs more recently. It was also the first time since the 1950s that biological research was the major scientific endeavour of two ANARE parties working simultaneously at both ends of the island. This reflects renewed interest in The Territory of Heard Island and The McDonald Islands and its surrounding Exclusive Economic Zone, which has a significant fishery potential. As studies on the population of the Island's Elephant Seals may offer methods of monitoring major changes in the relative balance of high level consumers in the marine ecosystem (See below), the expedition had as its highest priority the thorough censusing of Elephant Seals on the Island over the pupping period, as part of an international program aimed at monitoring the total population of these seals. A census of the whole island, by counting seals hauled out on beaches, necessitated two parties; one at Atlas Cove and the other at Spit Bay. The expedition was also given the tasks of carrying out a limited clean up of the old Atlas Cove camp (following an explicit brief which recognised its heritage value), of making a site survey for the proposed camp, and of producing an Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed site. Other tasks included the deployment of magnetometers and the regular measurement of absolute magnetic values, a comparative meteorological program at either end of the island, an assessment of seal blubber by ultrasound, a collection of Elephant Seal blood samples for electrophoretic analysis, a Fur Seal census, a botanical survey and a general biology program made up of many small sections.

  • Heard Island Expedition, 16 November 1986 to 21 January 1987, report written by Rod Ledingham, Officer in Charge. Taken from the report: The 1986-87 expedition was the second in a series of three consecutive expeditions planned to conduct new scientific work and to check on changes since the early wintering years from 1948-1954 and more recent sporadic visits by various government and private expeditions. We were dropped off at Heard Island on the 14th November 1986 by the Nella Dan. The main thrust of this expedition was originally to have been geological but this was later expanded to cover biology and archaeology. Transport was provided by three Hughes 500 helicopters, old faithfuls VH-BAD piloted by John Robertson and VH-BAG piloted by Doug Crossan, and a new arrive from NZ, VH-HED flown by Phillip Turner, to provide speedy access to all areas of rock, either coastal or at high altitude on the mountain. Of particular interest to the geologists were the lavas of the January 1985 Big Ben eruption spotted by observers including Dick Williams, on the French vessel Marion Dufresne. Despite some initial doubts about the possibility of flying, or even holding, aircraft at Heard for any length of time, and numerous relatively minor problems with weather and wind blown volcanic sand, the operation went very well and a great deal of new ground was covered, including several flights to the summit of Big Ben and the discovery of a new active crater and the expedition lava flows on the south-western slopes at Cape Arkona. Two geologists accompanied the expedition, Jane Barling and Graeme Wheller. Geological mapping of the whole island was carried out by Jane where access was not too difficult or dangerous. Jane had previously worked on the samples brought back from Long Ridge and the summit by the Heard Island Expedition (private) on Anaconda II in 1983. The original map produced by Ainsworth in 1947 will be greatly improved when the material has been studied in more detail. The second geologist Graeme studied the relationships of the more recent lavas and attempted to get samples from the summit vent. The failure to do so was somewhat ameliorated by the finding of the new lava which it appears had emanated from the summit vent pipe and samples of summit rock were therefore available from 700m above Cape Arkona. Further information about the botanical and biological work is available in the report.

  • 1987/88 Field Season at Heard Island. Harry R. Burton. Field Leader, Antarctic Division. The 1987/88 ANARE to Heard Island was the last of a series of three summer programs there (1985 and 1986/87); and with five and a half months on the Island. It was also the longest. Earth science had been the primary focus of the 1986/87 program. In 1987/88 the focus of the work was again biology, as it had been in 1985; and island transport (other than pedestrian) was by LARC. Nella Dan delivered the party of 17 from September 18 to 20 1987, with four at Spit Bay and the remainder at Atlas Cove. About a month later, on October 18 and 19 she returned: four of the party left and there were two new arrivals, so that 15 people were on the Island until Lady Franklin picked up the party and left on March 2 1988. A major task of the Expedition was to carry out a complete census of Heard Island's breeding population of Southern Elephant Seals. This task was done in the middle of October, when the numbers of cows hauled out to pup on the beaches were at a maximum and counts made at that time were sensibly referable to other years and other islands. It was the first total census ever completed on Heard Island although one made in 1985 was nearly so. The party was able to walk to Long Beach and census that area. and the availab1l1ty of a helicopter for two days allowed the total photographic coverage of Spit Island, a sedimentary island little more than a metre above sea level and about a kilometre to the east. This island is home to several thousand seals. The one photographic run over this island on October 18 produced a 70mm film record. and thus the whole Island census was completed. Although strong winds during the photography prevented complete overlap of all the aerial photographs. allowance for the small proportion of missed ground was made in censusing. The final total for Spit Island was 3,200 plus or minus 150 cows. A number of other whole Island Southern Elephant Seal counts (excluding Spit Island) were made at intervals of approximately a month so that seal numbers at particular sites and dates could be compared to historical records for these same places at equivalent seasonal times. These counts also gave quantitative measures of 'seal abuse' to coastal vegetation. A daily count of all Southern Elephant Seals in the Four Bays area was maintained for two months. This work enabled the day of maximum numbers to be calculated with precision, as well as providing a detailed record of the haul-out pattern for comparison with other years and islands. The day of maximum numbers, 17 October, was two days later in 1987 than in 1985. The results also indicated a further small reduction in the pup production of the Four Bays area, compared to 1985. However a complete enumeration of the seals on all island beaches still waits on a careful checking of all data. Another Southern Elephant Seal study was the weighing of weaned pups. About 400 pups were weighed at each end of the Island. The total (821) is a considerable data set and it demonstrated the variation in sex ratio and weight through the weaning period. Male pups had a mean weight of 116.5kg (408 animals), and female pups had a mean weight of 111.6kg (413 animals). These data allow real comparison with weaned weights from other islands and thus may provide insights into the reasons for the decline of seal numbers on some islands (the Indian Ocean Sector) and not others (South Georgia). Sixty Southern Elephant Seals. newly arrived at the beach to moult, were anaesthetised, measured and weighed before having their stomach contents flushed out by water through a soft rubber hose. These collections contained obvious examples of squid beaks and stomach worms but await analysis. This will provide the first detailed information on the diet of these seals in the Heard Island area. Leopard Seals were counted whenever they were seen, and at times (late February) they out numbered Southern Elephant Seals on some beaches. Thirty five animals were anaesthetised. measured and weighed before being tagged and their blood sampled. A surprise was the discovery of two Subantarctic Fur Seals bearing tags from Marion Island. This was the first record of this species on the island. Also surprising was the very large number (in excess of 10,000) of Antarctic Fur Seals hauling out in late February. They are not a rare Sight on the Island any more! A detailed study of the attendance patterns of lactating cows and the corresponding weight gains of their pups was carried out. An archaeological survey of the Corinthian Bay sealer's shanty and a botanical study of pool complexes in the north west of the Island were studies undertaken in the first month on the Island. A great deal of effort was also put into censusing birds. A thorough survey of the distribution of all burrow nesting seabirds was completed for the Island and the population of Gentoo Penguins was counted (16,500 pairs in 60 colonies) as well as having the breeding success of their chicks recorded. The colonies of King Penguins were recorded regularly, and appear to be continuing to increase in numbers. 1987/88 was a good season for the Heard Island Cormorant too, as 94 chicks were fledged, compared to six in 1986/87. A large number of banded seabirds were resighted. These Included Subantarctic and Antarctic Skuas, Wandering and Black-browed Albatrosses and a Cape Petrel. Many of these birds had been banded on other islands, away from Heard Island. Nearly all colonies of Southern Giant Petrels were visited and the counts of these colonies showed a near 50% decline compared to 1963. However, 19 breeding birds, banded as chicks in 1963, were resighted. These 25 year old birds give evidence of the long life capabilities of this species. The breeding success of a colony of Black-browed Albatrosses was also recorded. The vegetation of the Island was mapped in detail, and growth studies carried out at a number of dispersed sites. The recognition of another possible species of grass in some newly exposed morainal areas suggests that the retreat of glaciers on the Island is creating new areas suitable for colonisation. Comparison of the vegetation of Heard Island with that of climatically less rigorous Macquarie Island promises to throw up a number of ecologically interesting insights. Many minor projects were also completed (particularly in view of the extra month on the island due to the loss of the Nella Dan) and these included a tethered kelp experiment to discover the plants capabilities as platforms for long distance transport of marine invertebrates. A comparison of the Collembollan (insect) populations in different habitats and the collection of funnel extracted invertebrates in some quantity may extend the species list for the Island. Five more sealers' shanties were discovered around the Island and the artefacts in their vicinity were recorded. A detailed study of casks remaining from sealing days was undertaken, and showed that most originated from the period (1881) when the shipwrecked sailors of the Trinity were living on the island. A windlass was uncovered at low tide, after a storm on Spit Bay Beach, and was returned to Australia. The lengthy period on the Island and enthusiastic assistance from the passengers of relief ships enabled a significant volume of debris from the old station to be picked up for return to Australia for disposal. The tide gauge lost in 1985 was washed up on the beach and was recovered still in a watertight condition. Twelve oceanographic drift cards were found on the beaches and a complete collection of all ocean debris (other than wood) was made from the beaches. East European fishing floats were still dominant items, and indicate the fishing effort in the area up-current from Heard Island. The 1987/88 ANARE was a long expedition for 'a summer', as nearly six months were spent on the island. But this considerable period allowed a very thorough and unusually comprehensive assessment of the status of vertebrate populations and of the distribution of plants.

  • 1992 Wintering Field Season at Heard Island. Taken from the report: Genesis of the Expedition The concept of the 1992 expedition arose from the need to gain access to animals at Heard Island for research at precise times of the year to deploy and retrieve time-depth recorders. An Antarctic Science Advisory Committee workshop on the Southern Ocean Ecosystem was held on 10-11 September 1989 to discuss future plans for ANARE areas of operation. The workshop was attended by myself (KG - Ken Green) and Harry Burton (HRB) for the Land-based Biology section. It became apparent that the two consecutive summers needed to deploy and retrieve the recorders (one leaving Heard Island in the autumn, the next arriving early in the spring) could not be accommodated in the planning process because of planned commitments in the eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The suggestion was therefore made by us that if two summers were impossible then perhaps the best solution was a wintering party. A memo to this effect was drafted by us and submitted on 26 September 1989. This was considered at a Heard Island Committee meeting on 18 October 1989 when changes to the shipping program were suggested that would allow two consecutive summers on Heard Island and it was concluded that "this arrangement should.....negate the need for a wintering program in the near future". The suggested rearrangement did not fully match the times required and the Land-based Biology section was loathe to deploy equipment in one summer without guaranteed access to the animals in the following spring. It was felt that this could only be assured if the biologists were on the island through the whole period. An additional advantage was that dietary studies of the main fish predators could be continued throughout the winter period. To this effect the proposal for a wintering party was re-submitted on 26 February 1990 with the suggested personnel being three biologists and three people in support. The proposal was re-submitted in more detail on 4 May 1990 and was examined by the ANARE Annual Planning Committee who referred it to the Assistant Director (Science) to "examine the options for conduct of this program and that following this the Heard Island Planning Committee and to the Assistant Director (Science) who was requested to prepare a paper for distribution to committee members for consideration at a meeting to be held on 17 July 1990. At this point the maiden voyage of the Aurora Australis took place with one aim being to deploy a party of four on Heard Island for a period of one month to undertake research into seals and penguins. This party included two of the subsequent wintering party (see Green 1990). This expedition returned in time for the Heard Island Planning Committee meeting which was held to hear reports on the 1990 expedition and to consider the proposals for 1993. A reduced complement of four expeditioners was suggested in a proposal appearing under the signature of the acting Assistant Director (Science). The committee voted to forward the proposal to the ANARE Annual Planning Committee on 26 July 1990 with the suggested alteration in timing so that the wintering expedition occurred in 1992 rather than 1993 to avoid clashing with science requirements for the Lambert Traverse. The ANARE Annual Planning Committee referred the matter to the executive and on 27 August 1990 the Heard Island Planning Committee agreed to "support a limited winter program on Heard Island in 1992 on the condition that it is to be a purely land-based exercise with work restricted to the Spit Bay area" with "a final decision on the conduct of a Heard Island wintering program (to) be made by the Executive in the near future.". Approval was given at the Heard Island Committee meeting of 24 September 1990, subject to approval by the Antarctic Research Evaluation Group (AREG) of the major programs suggested by the Land-based Biology section. At the Heard Island Planning Committee meeting of 12 December 1990 it was confirmed that AREG had provisionally approved the Land-based Biology programs and that the Executive "have supported the program subject to ASAC endorsement of the three proposals put forward." At this stage the Heard Island expedition was expected to proceed on that basis with additional programs to be considered by AREG. From this point the expedition had sufficient momentum to keep going and subsequent meetings of the Heard Island Committee dealt mainly with questions of logistics, infrastructure and procedures (these are covered in Antarctic Division file number 89/754). The final composition of the personnel for the party was not settled until 14 October 1991. The expedition sailed from Hobart on 8 January 1992 on board the Aurora Australis. Assessments of the possibility of landing by zodiac at Spit Bay were made on 24 and 28 January and on 28 January the party was deployed at Atlas Cove using three inflatable rubber boats. For a narrative of the expedition see the Log (later in the report). Scientific Background A commercial Soviet fishery has existed in the Iles Kerguelen region from the early 1970s and catches averaged about 20,000 tonnes per year between 1979 and 1986, dropping to 7886 tonnes in 1987 and 773 tonnes in 1988. Before 1978, the benthic species Notothenia rossi and N. squamifrons were mainstay of this fishery. The icefish, Champsocephalus gunnari increased in importance after that to constitute the majority of the catch. There has been little commercial fishing around Heard Island, and none since a 200 nautical mile Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) was declared in 1979 (Williams and Ensor 1988). Catches of icefish by the Soviet research vessel RV Professor Mesyatsev on banks to the north-east of Heard Island indicated concentrations of this species in commercial interest, but other species, including benthic fishes also occurring in the diet of the seals, are not sufficiently abundant for commercial interest at this time (Williams and Ensor 1988). Results from the 1987/88 Heard Island ANARE suggested that there was a potential for competition between the increasing numbers of Antarctic Fur Seals and any future commercial fishery (Green et al 1990). Winter data were, however, lacking. In 1990 the first ANARE expedition to be present on the island into the winter period since the 1954 wintering expedition took place, with the main program being an attempt to examine the winter diet and feeding areas of Antarctic Fur Seals. Subsequent assessment of the diet of Southern Elephant Seals comparing Macquarie and Heard Islands (Green and Burton in press) also showed this species to be a potential competitor, both with Antarctic Fur Seals and with a potential fishery. Bearing in mind the possibility that a request for commercial fishing rights within the Heard Island AFZ might be made in the foreseeable future, probably as an adjunct to the Kerguelen or Antarctic fishery rather than a new venture, a full assessment of the role of fish predators was indicated. The analysis of a potential interaction between wildlife and fisheries depends on the collection of three primary sets of data: the availability of commercial fish species, the diet of the predator, and the spatial overlap in the demands of the two competing interests. The aim of the 1992 ANARE was therefore to collect all of these data. The Marine Science cruises to the area collected data on fish location and relative abundance, continuing the work of previous voyages such as Professor Mesyatsev and the Aurora Australis on its maiden voyage. The work of the shore party would be to investigate the diet of fish predators through scat collections and examination of stomach contents. The main objectives of the 1992 ANARE program on Heard Island were therefore to collect data on the feeding ecology of the major warm-blooded predators of fish in the Heard Island region (excluding whales), to provide baseline data in their ecology in the absence of a nearby fishery, and to provide an estimate of the degree of interaction between these animals and a potential fishery. This was considered to be a major scientific program, both in resources and time and was expected to net valuable scientific information from a very small deployment of personnel. In addition to the main objectives, a number of additional research programs were to be conducted by the wintering party including meteorological observations, glaciology, coastal erosion surveys and marine debris surveys. Field Party Erwin Erb, Medical Officer Ken Green, Biologist Geoffrey Moore, Biologist David Slip, Biologist Attila Vrana, Engineer

  • The snapshot (originally produced on CD for a conference) was produced by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre for distribution to Heard Island expeditioners in the 2003/2004 season. The snapshot contained all publicly available data held by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre related to Heard Island at the time of production. The snapshot also contained all metadata held by the AADC at the time of production. Furthermore, information is also included from: AADC's gazetteer biodiversity database satellite image archive gis shapefiles heard island wilderness reserve management plan Finally, freely available software needed to browse some of the data are also included.