The SA Agulhas II departed from Cape Town on 7 April with two of our committee members, Liezel and Marius on board. Under the command of Captain Gavin Syndercombe and sailing through some rough weather along the way she reached Marion Island on 12 April. Marion Island is one of three South African research stations under SANAP, the other two being SANAE IV and Gough Island, and traveling on the island is done almost exclusively on foot. A network of huts spans the island, most huts being located along the coast with Katedraalkrans located further inland. For the hard-to-reach places and the essential hut restocks helicopters are used.
Researchers and government employees are expected to travel to their sites and place of work kitted out in gum boots and the essential rain and all-wheather gear. Marion Island receives a lot of rainfall, being a hyper maritime environment, and the coastal areas are characterized by peat, bogs and blechnum slopes. Further inland, as one gains in elevation, black and grey lava outflows yield a terrain that is difficult to traverse with many sharp edges. Black lava fields are especially known for their sharp rocks and gum boots can be shredded by walking across these features too many times.
Scientists and government employees have only a few more weeks to go before they return to South Africa and APECSSA hopes that all the work is progressing well!