Survival

Sea-elephants were reluctant to become lunch for the
Sea-elephants were reluctant to become lunch for the "Forgotten men". Mitchell Collection, State Library of New South Wales (Photo: Charles Sandell)

In their own words

[With] an acute shortage of ordinary food at Macquarie Island, … our Party was at last reduced to living almost entirely on Sea-elephant meat “straight”. As a consequence of this shortage of provisions the regular work of the party was considerably interfered with for much time had to be spent foraging at a time of the year when animal life is scarcest and the weather at its worst.

– Mawson in AAE Report Series A, Vol 1.

We now started on what might be called the second stage of our existence on the island. In the preceding pages I have endeavoured to give some idea of what happened during what was to have been our full period; but unforeseen circumstances compelled us to extend our stay for eight months more, until the ‘Aurora’ came to relieve us in November. As the routine was similar in a good many respects to that which we had just gone through, I shall now refer to only the more salient features of our life.

– George Ainsworth in The Home of the Blizzard

Mawson’s men were the first to run out of food supplies, falling short in March last Then the sealers’ stores became exhausted, and both parties suffered want, but there was at no time any question of starvation, for there is abundant food on the island, provided by the sea elephants, but there was not the variety requisite to keep the men in good health.

– Edgar Waite, Curator of the Canterbury Museum, who visited the island in August 1913 aboard Tutanekai

This page was last modified on July 2, 2014.