Mid-winter greetings from the three SANAP stations

Happy mid-winter from our Antarctic station (SANAE), sub-Antarctic station (Marion Island) and Gough Island.

Antarctica – where the 58th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Antarctica, SANAE, SANAE58,midwinter

Marion Island – where the 76th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Marion Island, Marion76, midwinter

Gough Island – where the 64th overwintering team will be celebrating mid-winter.

Gough Island, Gough64, midwinter

Marion75 team photo and logo now uploaded

Marion75, M75, Marion Island, Overwintering Team

The 75th Marion Island Overwintering team departed on 06 April 2018 (click here to read more) and returned to Cape Town on the 15th of May 2019 (VIDEO).

Click on the link below and view their official team photo among the previous Marion Island overwintering teams.

Also visit the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive to view the team photo or team logo.

Marion Island Team Photos

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 06 June 2019.

Happy Birthday to Marion75 Team member – Michelle Thompson

Marion Island, Sub-Antarctic, South African Islands

On behalf of ALSA and all involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme, we would like to wish Michelle Thompson (Field Assistant – Birder M75) a Happy Birthday today.

This will be the last team member of M75 we wish happy birthday to, as this team returned back to Cape Town a few days ago! All the best for your future guys! Marion Island, Birhdays

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 19 May 2019

Welcome home Marion75 and take-over personnel

The S.A. Agulhas II arrived in Cape Town yesterday, 15 May 2019, after being away for 34 days.

The vessel returned with the 75th Marion Island overwintering team, all take-over scientists (land-and ship based) and take-over personnel.

Marion75 departed last year on 06 April 2018 and they are now reunited with family and friends after approximately 13 months.

Click here to see who was on this team and more about the different scientific groups (land-and ship based).

Note that there are more institutions involved in take-over science on the island, not mentioned in this video such as the Biocomplexity Project (University of Johannesburg) and Observing Dawn in the Cosmos (University of KwaZulu Natal). These projects does not have personnel overwintering on the island.

Marion75 and take-over personnel, addressed by the Deputy Director-General Oceans and Coasts, Judy Beaumont:

 

Marion75, M75, Marion Island, Overwintering Team

L-R (front): Dakalo Gangashe (Base Engineer), Maliviwe Mnengisa (Medic/Team leader), Zinhle Shongwe (Assistant meteorologist), Stephan Keys (Birder), Dani Keys (Birder), Dineo Mogashoa (Winder/Botanist); (middle) Oyena Masiko (Birder), Vhulahani Manukha (Space Engineer), Mavis Lekhesa (Radio Technician), Michael Taunyane (Diesel Mechanic / Deputy Team Leader). Sechaba Nyaku (Senior Meteorologist). Michelle Thompson (Birder). Monica Leitner (Assistant ECO), Liezl Pretorius (Sealer/Deputy Science Team Leader), Elsa van Ginkel (Winder/Botanist), Bongekile Kuhlase (Botanist); (back) Abuyiselwe Nguna (Geomorphologist/Science Team Leader), Jabulani Thabede (Chef), James Burns (Assistant meteorologist), Charlotte Heijnis (Senior ECO), Sean Morar (Birder). Welly Qwabe (Sealer), Michael Voysey (Killer whaler/sealer), Marike Louw (Botanist).

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 16 May 2019.

Marion Island take-over coming to an end

Time on the island is rapidly running out for all passengers returning to Cape Town, this includes everyone except the 76th Marion Island Overwintering Team. The take-over scientists are wrapping up field work and packing containers for back-loading  started at this research station.

The first containers were transported to the research and supply vessel, S.A. Agulhas II. Watch the video below to see how a container is transported by helicopter.

These last few days are bitter sweet on the island. The 75th overwintering team returning to Cape Town have to say goodbye to the place they called home for 13 months. A place that was at first maybe something to get used to, and now a very special memory that will last a lifetime. For many this might be the last time they get to visit this pristine island in the Southern Ocean, but for the 76th overwintering team the departure of the vessel is something to look forward to, as they will be able to unpack their personals in their own rooms and settling in, preparing for the year ahead.

The vessel is expected to depart from Marion Island on the 9th of May and the expected time of arrival at East Pier, Cape Town Harbour, is 16 May 2019. The longer return voyage will be used toward oceanographic research on transects between the Prince Edward Islands and Cape Town.

Bon Voyage, see you soon!

 

Photo Credit: Daniela Monsanto (PhD Candidate, University of Johannesburg)

Video Credit: Ultimate Aviation Group

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 07 May 2019

Happy Birthday to Marion75 Team member – Bongekile Kuhlase

Marion Island, Sub-Antarctic, South African Islands

On behalf of ALSA and all involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme, we would like to wish Bongekile Kuhlase (Botanical Field Assistant of M75) a Happy Birthday today.

Marion Island

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 04 May 2019

SANAP students graduating

Congratulations to Daniela Monsanto and Mthoko Twala, two SANAP students completing their Masters degrees, both with cum laude, within the field of biology.

Daniela completed her degree at the University of Johannesburg, under the supervision of Prof Bettine van Vuuren. This Masters was part of the SANAP project: Biocomplexity: Understanding biological patterns in space and time. Daniela examined fine-scale spatial genetic patterns in one of the most dominant and ecologically significant soil organisms across the sub-Antarctic region, the Collembola Cryptopygus antarcticus. Her work highlighted a genetic discontinuity, which when overlaid onto a detailed geomorphological map of the area, coincided with a 3 meter ridge (for Collembola, this height is equivalent to a human scaled to 2.5 times the height of Table Mountain).

Mthoko completed his degree at the University of Pretoria, under the supervision of Dr Michelle Greve. This Masters was part of the SANAP project: Invasions in the changing sub-Antarctic. Mthoko assessed whether the invasive plant, Sagina procumbens, disproportionately benefits other invasive species on Marion Island. He found mixed results, with invasive plants necessarily benefitted from Sagina, but invasive collembolans benefitting more than native collembolans.

Congratulations to the students, as well as the supervisors.

See below these achievements announced on social media.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 30 April 2019

Marion Island March 2019 newsletter now available

Greetings from the M75 team to all our friends and families!

Where have the days gone?! March, our last full month alone on Marion, has flown by! For many of the field assistants, the work has slowed down substantially as the final tasks are being ticked off. For others, there is still quite a lot that needs to be squeezed into these final days. And, on the other hand, there are some (including the sealers) whose work has continued uninterrupted as is the case with base personnel who need to keep the ball rolling until we’ve boarded the ship home.

In between our duties however, the big clean-up has begun. All the huts have been tackled by the field assistants and back at base everyone is pitching in to make sure that everything is ready for take-over. Apart from the general base skivvy, we have all been busy packing up our own rooms too; as the total population of Marion explodes from 24 to over a hundred (with all the scientists and maintenance crew), we will soon be bunking with each other and the new M76 team while they find their feet.

Outside, island life goes on, oblivious to our bustling preparations. The wandering albatross which dot the landscape continue with their inredible life cycle and the fur-seal pups are venturing further and further from comfort as they grow at a rate. The winter leaves sap in the fading sunlight and the mountains are beginning to try on their winter coats.

We are sad to announce that this edition of The Wanderer (March 2019) will in all likelihood be our last. The next few weeks are undoubtedly going to be very chaotic and there will be little time to spare before we board the S.A. Agulhas II to go home. It has been a massive privilege to bring you these insights to our fantastic adventure in this paradise! We hope that you’ve enjoyed them as we have and that these newsletters can become part of M75’s legacy and serve to inspire future expeditions and explorers!

Authors: Elsa van Ginkel (Editor) and James Burns (Co-Editor), 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team, 16 April 2019 (received 13 April 2019)

Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.

Marion76 and take-over personnel about to depart from East Pier

Marion Island, M76, Marion76

Meet the Marion Island Overwintering team here.

See below some photos of the departure, more detail regarding the take-over to follow.

Videos

Meet the M76 Team Leader

Meet the M76 Deputy Team Leader

Meet the M76 Science Team Leader

 

All photos and videos taken by Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 12 April 2019

Happy Birthday to Marion75 Team member – Melford Mnengisa

Marion Island, Sub-Antarctic, South African Islands

On behalf of ALSA and all involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme, we would like to wish Melford Mnengisa (Medical Orderly of M75) a Happy Birthday today.

Marion Island

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 05 April 2019

Happy Birthday to Marion75 Team member – Sechaba Nyaku

Marion Island, Sub-Antarctic, South African Islands

On behalf of ALSA and all involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme, we would like to wish Sechaba Nyaku (Senior Meteorological Technician of M75) a Happy Birthday today.

Marion Island

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 29 March 2019

Meet Marion76 (2019/2020 overwintering team)

Marion Island, Overwintering, Team

The 76th Marion Island Overwintering team training started during the second week of March and will end Friday, 29 March.

The team training is intended to give the team a good background of the South African National Antarctic Programme and the history of South Africa’s involvement in the Southern Ocean. The team will also get an idea of what to expect of their year on Marion Island, learn what they can and can’t do and get a better idea of what to pack. During training the team can mingle with each other and learn how to work together during First Aid and Fire Fighting training, during the packing of containers and the cooking class. Each member’s dental health will also be assessed and attended to, as there is no way of returning home for an aching tooth. Each member on the team will also be kitted out with the necessary protective clothing for living and working in the sub-Antarctic.

The current expected time of departure for the vessel, S.A. Agulhas II is 11 April 2019. Click here to view the S.A Agulhas II Voyage Schedule.

Marion76 (M76)

Featured Image: M76 team during the first day of training, with Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (back, 4th from left) and  Adriaan Dreyer (far right), Assistant Director – Logistics and Support of Expeditions (Southern Ocean and Island Support Division, Department of Environmental Affairs).

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 20 March 2019

 

Marion Island February 2019 newsletter now available

Marion Island, Newsletter

Greetings to the friends, families and followers of the M75 team!Marion Island, Newsletter

And so goes the second month of the not-so-new-anymore year. It has been another wonderful month on this incredible island! The Christmas trees (correction: one of the Christmas trees) have just been packed away and the base is visibly tensing for the onslaught of the upcoming take-over month. The new M76 team has started training in Cape Town and we are all getting ready to show them the ropes when they arrive. But despite the approaching conclusion to our adventure, we have still been having a fantastic time here in paradise!

Winter is coming, and fast! February saw a very noticable shift in weather as the winds pick up, temperatures drop and the interior recieves a regular dusting of white. Field workers have been busy as the last of many of the newest generation of island birds leave their nests and the fur seal pups grow at an alarming rate. The iconic wandering albatross have mostly settled down and the first few chicks have even hatched. There is still a lot of work to do, both outside and in the lab, before the ship arrives. We have been in high spirits back at base and still enjoy our weekly braais, a couple of birthdays and other fun events.

This edition of The Wanderer (February 2019) is packed with great photos and the amazing experiences that we have been enjoying here! We hope you enjoy them all too!

Kind regards,
the Wanderer Editing team

Authors: Elsa van Ginkel (Editor) and James Burns (Co-Editor), 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team, 19 March 2019 (received 14 March 2019)

 

Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.

Happy Birthday to Marion75 Team member (Cook) – Jabulani Thabede

Marion Island, Sub-Antarctic, South African Islands

On behalf of ALSA and all involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme, we would like to wish Jabulani Thabede (Cook of  M75) a Happy Birthday today.

This is the first overwintering team with a full-time cook on the team.

Marion Island, Team, Overwintering Team, Birthdays

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 18 March 2019

Antarctica 2018/2019 take-over video series – Meet the ECO

Environmental Conrol Officer, SANAP, South African Antarctic Programme, ECO, Antarctica, Marion Island

It was lovely meeting up with Mpho at SANAE. We’ve spent a take-over together on Marion Island in 2016, after her year on the island as the Environmental Control Officer (ECO) for M72 (2015-2016).

72nd Marion Overwintering Team. Mpho standing in the top row, 2nd from right. Click on the photo to view more detail of the team.

Upon return from her year on Marion Island, there was an opening for an ECO on the 2017/2018 Antarctica take-over. Mpho grabbed this opportunity on with both hands. She’s also been back to Marion Island in 2018, as the take-over ECO and since been employed by the Department of Environmental Affairs, based at the Pretoria office.

VIDEO#2: Meet this take-over’s ECO (Environmental Control Officer) – Mpho Mashau

See playlist on Facebook here: SEASON 1: Antarctica Take-Over 2018/2019 to introduce you to the overwintering team and the support staff of this take-over.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 27 February 2019

Marion Island January 2019 newsletter now available

Marion Island, Newsletter, The Wanderer, Overwintering Team

Greetings to the friends, families and followers of the M75 team!

Marion Island, Newsletter, The Wanderer, Overwintering Team

Greetings from our sub-antarctic paradise!

The first month of this new year has come and gone much too quickly. The decorations stayed up long after the festive season ended and the M75 team took as long as possible to wind down after all the fun. We had some pretty memorable parties and amazing feasts!

January was a proper summer month on Marion. We had a record number of pleasantly warm and windstill days which have been great for working in the field. The field assistants have been out and about, making the most of the sunny and not-so-windy days. The island is alive with courting albatross, hundreds of penguin chicks, young birds starting to take off, brand new fur seal pups, etc. Back at base, we have been kept entertained with movie nights, some birthdays and many braai’s.

We hope you enjoy The Wanderer (January 2019) and that all the stories and photos give you a better idea of the fantastic things we’ve been experiencing!

Kind regards,
the Wanderer Editing team

 

Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.

 

Authors: Elsa van Ginkel (Editor) and James Burns (Co-Editor), 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team, 27 February 2019 (received 21 February 2019)

Marion Islander taking 2nd place in Young Science Communicators Competition

Marike Louw, Marion Island, Science Communication, Young Science Communicators Competition

This competition, initiative of SAASTA (the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement), is a great way of encouraging young scientists in developing skills to communicate science to the broader public. Doing this in your mother tongue can be a difficult task as not all scientific words can be translated and this skill was also tested in this competition, as 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Marike Louw, Marion Island, Science Communication, Young Science Communicators Competition

Marike Louw (MSc, CIB DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University) is currently one of the botanical field assistants on the 75th Marion Island Overwintering team.

One of the SANAP overwintering personnel on Marion Island, Marike Louw, sees the need to communicate science and the setup of the scientific environment on Marion Island. Marike is one of the four female botanical field assistants on the island and her job (since April 2018 until May 2019) is to estimate percentage vegetation in 3x3m plots, which is scattered all over the island. This data is gathered for a SANAP project, i.e “Invasions in the changing sub-Antarctic“, run by Dr Michelle Greve of the University of Pretoria. This job entails a lot of hiking and hard work in challenging weather conditions, which she is totally up for. Read more about Marike and the other three botanists in the November issue The Wanderer, the Marion Island Newsletter (Click here).

The competition was divided into five categories; article, open, indigenous language, video and audio. Marike entered for three categories i.e. article, video and audio. She was awarded with 2nd place in two of the three categories (video and audio). Check out the video and you will truly be inspired by the enthusiasm and love for science that the Marion Island field assistants have. Marike is also very proud to be among a team of 24 overwinterers on Marion Island, where all 11 official South African languages are spoken (listen to the audio).

Video Category (English):

Title: Denizens of Marion Island | Theme: Science transforming Society

Intended platform: Online education platform

Audio Category:

Title: Rainbow Nation on a Sub-Antarctic Island  | Theme: Science transforming Society

Intended platform: Education South African podcast or a radio platform
for a broad science-interested audience

 

Read more about this competition here.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 26 February 2019

 

Marion Island December newsletter now available

Marion Island, Newsletters, sub-Antarctic, Overwintering Team

Greetings to the friends, families and followers of the M75 team!

Marion Island, Newsletters, sub-Antarctic, Overwintering Team

The last month of 2018 was a memorable one! Starting the festivities early in the month with decorations, the excitement built up steadily to Christmas day and we had an amazing time! Movie marathons, fun teamwork in the kitchen, potjies, presents, a secret santa and more made for a jolly season indeed. Unfortunately no snow on Christmas but we enjoyed some great sunny and calm days instead, summer finally arrived!

The team hasn’t stopped working and, between all the celebrations, fieldworkers have been out and about with lots to be done as the breeding season continues. Everything is still running smoothly at base although there is a definite mindset shift in the team as takeover approaches.

We apologise for the delayed distribution but we hope you all enjoy our latest edition of the Wanderer (December 2018)! We wish everyone the best for the upcoming year and thank you once again for supporting us from afar!

Kind regards,
the Wanderer Editing team

Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.

Author: James Burns, 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team (Meteorological Observer), 05 February 2019 (received 12 January 2019)

Marion Island November newsletter now available

M75, Marion Island, Newsletters

Greetings to the friends, families and followers of the M75 team!

M75, Marion Island, Newsletters

November has swept by in a whirlwind of activity! The elephant seal breeding season has come to an end with a record number of new born pups but there has been no time to rest for the sealers as the fur seal population begins to boom. The birders have been busy non-stop with penguins, albatross and petrels all incubating eggs or raising chicks. The botanists have been traversing the landscape in search of the often elusive vegetation and there are even a few flowers brightening up the landscape as you’ll soon read.

Back at base, things are running smoothly and we are all getting into the festive spirit as Christmas approaches. Colourful decorations and even a couple of Christmas trees have considerably livened up some of our more frequented living areas. The weather, although windy as ever, has definitely been warmer on average and more sunny which has provided great opportunities to be out in the field for work or play.

We have tried to capture some of the highlights in this month’s edition of the Wanderer (November 2018) and hope you all enjoy reading the stories and checking out the photos of this amazing place and it’s amazing inhabitants!

Kind regards,
the Wanderer Editing team

Click here to view all the Marion Island newsletters available on the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive.

Author: James Burns, 75th Marion Island Overwintering Team (Meteorological Observer), 10 December 2018

2019 SANAP Postgrad Positions

Completing an MSc or PhD within the South African National Antarctic Programme can be something out of the ordinary.

Are you interested in the sub-Antarctic, Antarctic or the Southern Ocean?

Keep an eye out for related postgrad positions here.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 22 October 2018

Marion Island September Newsletter now available

The current Marion Island overwintering team (M75) wrote monthly newsletters since May 2018, when they were left behind on the island after the departure of the take-over crew and previous overwintering team.

These newsletters are not just a great way for family and friends to stay connected with team members, but also a way for people that have never been to the island to learn more about the ins and outs thereof.

Also, for those that have been to the island, especially previous overwintering team members like myself, one can browse through these newsletters and have a chance to reminisce about the past.

In the July issue the team started a ‘Round Island for the readers’ series, where different huts will be visited in every Wanderer issue. In this month’s issue the hut visited is on the western side of the island, which is an ultimate favourite for myself and many other islanders – Mixed Pickle. Read all about the Mixed Pickle hut in the September issue (click here).

Map of Marion Island indicating one of many round island routes and also 8 of the 9 (current) field huts and one of the old huts (Long Ridge hut). The ‘Round island for the readers’ will be conducted anti-clockwise. Please note that names of some peaks have changed over the past few years. (Click here to view the map on the ALSA Archive)

Click here to view all the newsletters published by M75 so far.

 

Author: Anche Louw (Antarctic Legacy of South Africa), 11 October 2018

Marion 74 team photo now loaded

The 74th Marion Island Overwintering team departed on 06 April 2017 (Photo) and returned to Cape  Town on 07 May 2018 (Photo).

Click on the link below and view their official team photo among the previous Marion Island overwintering teams.

Marion Island Team Photos

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 30 May 2018