Marion Island – Voyage 118, August 2004

Marion Island – Voyage 118, August 2004
(to learn more about Marion Island, please visit its official website)
Attie Combrink

This is me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , also known to the other passengers and crew as “Groenie die Drakie” (green due to the seasickness, the roaring forties are really bad!).  Marion Island is in the background, we were extremely glad to see this, 2000km and 5 days after we left Cape Town.  Yes, it was cold.

We left Cape Town on 5 August onboard the S.A. Agulhas, and were back again on the 25th.  Transport to and fro’ the ship, at the island, is by helicopter only, due to rough seas and a dangerous coastline.

This is the French DORIS antenna, one of the reasons for me to go down to Marion.  After years of strong winds (we experienced winds of up to 80 knots!), snow and icy rain, the antenna’s base corroded and I had to replace this old tower and antenna.

The other reason for going down to Marion Island, was to improve the communication between our GPS receiver on the island and the database at HartRAO.  This picture shows the GPS antenna, part of the installation that was done at Transvaal Cove in April 2004.
Apart from our own geo-space-science research, I include pictures of other science taking place on the island: a radiosonde (S.A. Weather Service weather balloon) launch, Jacques collecting insect samples, Dave studying geomorphological changes on the island (the picture shows him at glacier markings), André exchanging artificial eggs (with batteries, heater, stethoscope and radio transmitter inside) for real eggs…





Proudly South African: Tuning in to “Radio Sonder Grense” to listen to the Tri-Nations Rugby – the Springboks clobbered New Zealand 40-26.  A week later they beat Australia 23-19 to bring the cup home.  The victory was followed by a braai.


I finish off with some pictures of landscapes and a few species that you are not likely to run into in most other parts of the world.

Wandering albatross, also known to Ludwig as the sitting albatross.

King penguins, marching on the beach.  They are followed by a paddy (also known as a Marion-hoender).

Fluffy penguin chicks.

A leopard seal, a rare sight even for sub-Antarctic islands such as Marion.

Prince Edward Island can be seen, northeast of Marion Island.

Ship’s cove.

Marion Base as seen from the helicopter.

I learned many things on the island.  Two of these things give a slight twist to the well-known Visa and MasterCard slogans:
  • Science takes you places.
  • Some things money can’t buy.