South Georgia Newsletter, August 2013

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- Disclaimer: This newsletter is not produced by GSGSSI; it does not necessarily reflect their views.



Sir Sandy Woodward

Image: Mecopress.
Image: Mecopress.


Sir Sandy Woodward, who commanded the Royal Navy Task Force that liberated South Georgia and the Falkland Islands after they were invaded by Argentina in 1982, died on August 4th aged 81. UK Prime Minister David Cameron praised Admiral Woodward as "a truly courageous and decisive leader".


Known as a robust and peppery character, Sandy Woodward was on exercises in the Mediterranean in April 1982 when Argentina invaded South Georgia and the Falklands. He was put in command of the Royal Navy Task Force dispatched to retake the islands. In the lead up to these events, between 1978 and 1981 he had held the post of Director of Naval Plans, a period in which the UK Government’s Strategic Defence Review (also known as the Nott Review) was conducted. This was during Margaret Thatcher’s first term as Prime Minister and, though Woodward opposed the plans, John Nott inflicted severe cuts to the Navy of one-fifth of its destroyers and frigates; an aircraft carrier; two amphibious ships; and the intended removal of ice patrol ship HMS Endurance. The planned withdrawal of HMS Endurance from patrol in the Southern Ocean encouraged the Argentines to think Britain was less committed to protecting the British territories in the South Atlantic.


After the shock of the Argentine invasion, the early liberation of South Georgia was an important first victory for the British forces. On April 25th 1982 it was to Admiral Woodward that the news of the liberation of Grytviken was relayed with the famous signal from Captain Young, “Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Flag in Grytviken, South Georgia. God save the Queen.”


In paying tribute to Sir Sandy Woodward, David Cameron alluded to this period of his career, “We are indebted to him for his many years of service and the vital role he played to ensure that the people of the Falkland Islands can still today live in peace and freedom." Similarly Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord, alluded to 1982 being Sandy Woodward’s finest hour: “Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward will always be remembered for his powerful and clear command of the Royal Navy Task Force…in 1982.”


Woodward was appointed KCB in 1982 and was promoted to Admiral in 1987. Woodward’s continued service in the Navy included periods as Flag Officer Submarines and Commander Submarines Eastern Atlantic, and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff. His last appointment was as Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command (1987–89). He left the navy aged 57, but he continued his interest in the forces, amongst other things becoming Chairman of the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel Trust. He retired to Bosham, near Chichester, West Sussex, and enjoyed sailing small boats.


Sir Sandy Woodward died after a long illness.





South Georgia Krill To Be Hit Hardest By Global Warming

Modelling of the effects of sea temperature rises in the Southern Oceans indicates that krill in the seas around South Georgia may be the hardest hit of the region by the effects of global warming. Using statistical models, a team of researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory assessed the likely impact of projected temperature increases on the Weddell Sea, Scotia Sea and Southern Drake Passage. This region has already experienced sea surface warming of as much as 1°C over the past fifty years. Projections suggest this could rise by another 1°C by the end of the 21st century.


In the early life stages krill require deep water with low acidity and a narrow range of temperatures for their eggs to successfully hatch and develop. The larvae then feed on algae on the underside of sea ice. Krill are especially sensitive to sea temperature in the areas where they grow as adults, such as around South Georgia. The adults require suitable temperatures and enough of the right type of food (larger phytoplankton) to successfully grow and reproduce. Many of these critical environmental features (temperature, acidity, sea ice and food availability) could be affected by climate change.





When the scientists modelled the expected effects of increased sea temperature the most pessimistic scenarios suggested warming could reduce the area of krill growth habitat overall by up to 20%. But South Georgia, located within the area likely to be worst affected, could have a reduction in krill habitat as high as 55%. As South Georgia is home to animals such as fur seals and macaroni penguins that depend upon krill, and others, such as black-browed albatrosses, which eat substantial amounts of krill, such marked reduction in krill habitat could significantly effect their populations.


Krill is fished commercially in the Southern Ocean and whilst the current catches are considerably less than than 1% of estimated biomass, there is a risk that high catches over small spatial scales could reduce the availability of krill to predators such as penguins and fur seals. Any reduction in krill availability could be particularly damaging during the breeding season. The authors of this paper suggest that improved management systems could be put in place to ensure that krill fisheries take into account both growing demand for commercial catches and climate change. The seasonal closure of the krill fishery in South Georgia waters is a good example of how predator demand for krill can be protected during the breeding season.


Whilst this study uses the best available knowledge to estimates the possible impacts of climate change, it is impossible to predict the future with certainty. This study follows others which suggest that human-induced acidification and sea-ice loss are likely to affect Antarctic krill populations.


Info: BAS press release.




Shallow Marine – New Stamp Release

The unusual souvenir sheet has one stamp from each of the three joint-issue countries: South Georgia; Ascension Island; and the Falkland Islands.
The unusual souvenir sheet has one stamp from each of the three joint-issue countries: South Georgia; Ascension Island; and the Falkland Islands.


The work of the Shallow Marine Surveys Group (SMSG) is being highlighted with a new issue of stamps. For this joint issue with Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands, a very unusual souvenir sheet has been produced incorporating three stamps, one from each territory. The theme of the stamps is rocky reef habitats. The species diversity and floral and faunal assemblages are extremely different in each of the three territories and the reasons for this are due to latitude, oceanography and geographical isolation in terms of distance from other islands and continental land masses.


The SMSG was formed in 2006 by marine biologists and dive enthusiasts in the Falkland Islands. The group recognised that the shallow marine environment in the Falkland Islands is pristine, un-impacted by man and surprisingly diverse but almost nothing was known about it. Their initial aim was to provide species inventories for the habitats of the vast coastline, and ultimately to produce a guide book so others could enjoy the amazing sites, habitats and species that are contained within it. Since they started in 2006 over 500 species of algae and animals have been documented between the intertidal zone and 20 metres deep. These range from inconspicuous algae the thickness of a single cell to migrating whales exceeding 15 tonnes. Some species are readily distinguished at a glimpse while others require a sharp eye to determine their identity. But each contributes to the biodiversity of the shallow marine environment.


SMSG’s expeditions have also brought them to South Georgia, and taken them to the tropical island of Ascension. Their work has resulted in the discovery of over 30 new species, numerous habitats and unique faunal and floral communities. The environments the group work in range from a comfortable 26°C to freezing cold conditions of less than 0°C in South Georgia, and strong winds can make seas and coastlines prohibitively rough. Exploration of the marine life in these environments therefore presents some challenges.


The £1 stamp shows a crocodile fish.
The £1 stamp shows a crocodile fish.


South Georgia is a marine biodiversity hotspot. Shallow rocky reefs provide home for a unique assemblage of Antarctic and Patagonian flora and fauna, and those with Southern Ocean-wide biogeographic distributions. Because South Georgia is geologically old, somewhat isolated from other landmasses, and surrounded by deep (3000m) neighbouring waters, it is particularly rich in “endemic” species, that is, those that live nowhere else.


When exploring the subtidal rocky reefs of South Georgia, divers will discover multi-storied canopies of seaweeds, from the tall bladder kelps forming dense forests reaching the surface, to the impressively named Himantothallus grandifolius with its 50cm wide blades that extend for tens of meters along the seafloor, and a highly diverse and complex assemblage of foliose red seaweeds covering most rocky surfaces. The ubiquitous Antarctic fur seal will be curious and playful companions while exploring these underwater gardens.


The 75p stamp shows an anemone.
The 75p stamp shows an anemone.


These seaweed dominated habitats support a colourful array of encrusting and mobile fauna living on the seabed and on seaweeds themselves. Visually dominant are brightly coloured sea squirts, anemones, and lace corals. In South Georgia’s fjord-like bays, beautiful overhanging walls are densely packed with primitive lampshells and massive glass “volcano” sponges that normally live hundreds of meters deep, but can be found within 20m of the surface here. The crowded assemblages include a wide variety of starfish, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, topshells, limpets and chitons, together with the giant isopod and sea spiders that are characteristic of this part of the world.


The 65p stamp shows a chiton.
The 65p stamp shows a chiton.


The marine habitats of South Georgia are potentially the most interesting in the region, yet at present they are the most poorly understood. The South Georgia area is one of the fastest warming regions in the Southern Ocean and is predicted to be one of the most affected by climate change, with the possibility of species shifting their distribution and the associated loss of biodiversity. The images used on the set of four stamps were taken as part of a multi-national research program aimed at describing and monitoring South Georgia’s marine biodiversity in light of these impacts.


The £1.20 stamp shows a brittle star.
The £1.20 stamp shows a brittle star.


There is also a sheetlet of 16 stamps and two First Day Covers. The First Day Cover of the three-country souvenir sheet will be cancelled ‘first day of issue’ in South Georgia and then forwarded for cancellations in Ascension Island and Falkland Islands.


You can follow the work of SMSG on their website http://www.smsg-falklands.org and blog http://www.smsg-falklands.org/blog


South Georgia stamps and First Day Covers can be bought from http://www.falklandstamps.com




Fishing and Shipping News

Reefer in Cumberland Bay.
Reefer in Cumberland Bay.


August started with three toothfish longliners and four krill trawlers operating in the South Georgia Fishing Zone. A fifth krill trawler re-joined the fleet later in August. August marks the end of the toothfish season, and two of the remaining vessels finished fishing having completed their allocated catches during the month. They then sailed to Stanley, FI, for catch verification, leaving just one longliner operating to the end of the month. Catches in both fisheries were reasonable, though there was a midmonth reduction in catches, partly due to stormy weather.


Throughout the month, three different reefer vessels made four visits to anchor in Cumberland Bay and tranship with trawlers. Trawlers made seven visits to the reefers. And on August 25th a tanker entered Cumberland Bay to supply bunkers to a trawler. Another trawler was in port for a day to make repairs.


German research vessel RV Polarstern, went into Stromness Bay to calibrate scientific equipment.




We’re Tantalisingly Close….


The message from the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT), as they launch their latest appeal to raise funds for their vast rodent eradication project, is that they are “tantalisingly close to finishing the job”.


Known as the’ Habitat Restoration Project’, baiting to remove rats and mice started in 2011 and should be completed in 2015. The whole project will cost £7.5 million. The latest appeal states: “We are tantalisingly close to achieving something incredible – removing each and every invasive rat and mouse from South Georgia. Of the £7.5 million needed to complete the project in 2015, we have raised £5 million and baited 7/10th of the infested parts of the island. With your help we can raise the final £2.5 million to finish the job and send ‘Team Rat’ to South Georgia one final time to bait the remaining infested areas. Please sponsor another hectare or give as much as you can to help us over that finish line, so that together we can secure a safe future for South Georgia’s native birds.”


You can see the latest appeal in full here.




… How Are The Others Doing?

It is now two years since aerial baiting on the Australian sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie was completed. With rabbits and rodents to deal with, some of their methods were different to those used in South Georgia and include using dogs to track any remaining rabbits or rats. The good news is that no sign of rabbits has been found since December 2011, and no live rats are being found. As a result the vegetation is recovering fast and becoming lush again; the recovering vegetation includes the intriguing megaherbs, and tussac grass.


For the rats, two years is considered sufficient time to allow any survivors to build their population to a detectable level, so dogs are now being used to look for any survivors. Though the dogs find old nests, sometimes containing dead rats that have been well preserved, there are no live rats being found.


Further encouraging signs are the recovery of bird life. Starlings are now roosting where rats used to like living, and a monthly bird census has noted a significant increase in the Antarctic tern population. The terns are also changing where they choose to breed, with almost half of them moving from the rock stacks to nest on the cobblestone beaches. Improved biosecurity procedures are now in place to minimise the risk of rabbits and rodents reinvading, or of other alien species being introduced to Macquarie.


You can read the latest edition of the Macquarie Island Despatch here.


The rodent detection dogs Chase, Bail and Cody
The rodent detection dogs Chase, Bail and Cody


On another sub-Antarctic island, the South African island of Marion, invasive mice are becoming an increasing concern. The house mouse was introduced to Marion Island by sealers at the beginning of the 19th century and has no natural predators there. Mice are omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of plants and animals, and have a significant effect on native plants, terrestrial invertebrates, reptiles and birds, particularly in island ecosystems.


In an attempt to deal with the growing mouse population, domestic cats were misguidedly introduced to Marion in 1949, but ended up doing much greater environmental damage than the mice because they hunted the small seabirds and by 1977 were estimated to be annually taking 455,000 burrowing petrels alone, and of course huge numbers of other bird species as well. It took 14 years to eradicate the cats, a project that was completed in 1991, but of course, as a result the numbers of mice has since been rising again.


Ornithologists working on another remote island, Gough, near Tristan da Cuhna, recorded the cruel behaviour of mice eating albatross chicks alive on the nests, and in recent years evidence has emerged of this mouse-feeding behaviour on Marion Island. The first mouse-wounded wandering albatross chick was reported in 2003; by 2008 a further 11 had been found; and in 2009 eight dark-mantled sooty albatross chicks, from two colonies, were recorded with open wounds. The threatened status of the various Marion Island albatross species are a further cause for alarm, coupled with a predicted increase in mouse populations due to global warming.


Seabird experts John Cooper and Andrea Angel produced a review of the impacts of the house mouse on Marion Island in late 2011. “The impacts of mice on Marion Island are a striking example of how insidious the effects of the house mouse can be when it preys upon species that are poorly represented, such as invertebrates and plants, or large charismatic fauna, such as the many seabird species, which together are part of the island’s closely knit ecosystem,” they concluded. Angel and Cooper noted that eradicating invasive rodents from islands was now routinely recommended as the best conservation measure, but also pointed to evidence showing that, while many islands had been cleared of mice, they were harder to eradicate than rats.


The first reported mouse eradication was on Flatey Island in Iceland in 1971, and there have been more than 50 other attempts worldwide since then. All have involved exposing all mice to poison bait.


A mouse eradication effort is being planned for the 6,500-hectare Gough Island, but Marion Island is nearly five times as big at 29,000ha. A feasibility study is planned, “We really want to start moving on this,” Cooper said, “It’s becoming more and more feasible because elsewhere they’re trying more and more dramatic programmes that we can learn from – for example, the British have just completed Phase 2 of the five-year rat eradication programme on South Georgia, where they have already helicopter-baited a far greater area than Marion Island.” But, unlike South Georgia which is divided into smaller baitable areas by glaciers, Marion Island, with no natural barriers to mouse movement, would have to be done as a one-off operation in which the entire island was baited.


Original Article Sunday Argus, IOL




Endurance In Good Condition Down There?

Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance sank in 1915 after it was crushed in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. Following experiments on wood submerged in the cold Antarctic waters, scientists think that the wreck could still be in very good condition.


By looking at degradation of submerged planks over a year, researchers discovered the wood remained in near-pristine condition, probably assisted by the absence of wood-boring “ship worms” in the area. It is unsurprising that ship worms would be rare in Antarctic waters given that no significant tree growth has occurred in the Antarctic for millions of years. It is also probable that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current sweeping around the icy continent, acts as a barrier to ship worm by preventing the worm’s larvae entering the region from other ocean basins.


Shackleton's Endurance is thought to have settled about 3km below the sea surface. A number of groups have talked about trying to locate it. Adrian Glover from London's Natural History Museum told BBC News that, “I think it's a reasonable hypothesis to suggest Endurance is still in good condition, certainly based on our experiments and what we know about low microbial rates of degradation in the cold Antarctic deep sea. Marine archaeologists and historians have long dreamt of finding the wreck and recovering artefacts from Shackleton's expedition.” One such is David Mearns, of Blue Water Recoveries, who is putting together a plan to find the wreck. He said the new research reinforced his view that the wreck was in a good state. “She was badly holed in the stern by large chunks of ice that broke through the ship's sides below the water line and caused her to flood,” he explained. “While Endurance will be a wreck, I expect to find her hull largely intact. She would have suffered additional impact damage when hitting the seabed, but I don't expect this to be too bad”.


Info: Mercopress




Bird Island Diary

By Jerry Gillham, Winter Base Commander at the BAS Research Station at Bird Island.


Gentoo Penguins at Johnson Cove, Bird Island.
Gentoo Penguins at Johnson Cove, Bird Island.


August on Bird Island marks the transition from one season to the next. The place is relatively quiet on the wildlife front so it’s a time for the Field Assistants to concentrate on lab work (analysing and identifying diet samples) and write annual reports. It’s also the time to prepare for the new season – cleaning and sorting nest markers, creating new spreadsheets ready to fill with information and repairing worn outdoor gear.


Throughout the month though there have been signs of the return of spring: the days are becoming longer; the northern giant petrels have been spotted mating; and the world’s most southerly songbirds, the South Georgia pipits, have started singing, marking their territories in preparation for breeding. The wandering albatross chicks are big enough now to be ringed, so we’ve been out covering the whole island, going from nest to nest, to fit the little metal ring on each bird’s leg. The information we get back from these will be able to tell us all sort of information about survival rates and migration and help us better understand, and so protect, these huge birds. When around the birds it is really special to see the odd adult returning to feed its chick. They’ve been away for days, covering hundreds of miles and hopefully returning with a crop full of squid and fish. Very rarely a pair returns at the same time and it’s amazing to see them spending some time together, preening and re-establishing the bond between them.


Pairs of northern giant petrels and wandering albatross re-affirming their bond.
Pairs of northern giant petrels and wandering albatross re-affirming their bond.


We’ve all been helping on the daily leopard seal round, and one of the joys of being out is the unexpected sights; whether it’s a large and active group of gentoo penguins, a lost chinstrap or a fur seal rolling enthusiastically in the snow. When the weather got really cold the pipits were searching for food in the thin band of exposed seaweed between the snow and the sea and several hundred Antarctic terns were fishing just off the beach. But every now and again there’s something that really catches the attention, such as the Weddell seal in Everman Cove on August 17th. We were returning from a long day out and it was beginning to get dark as we spotted what we assumed was a leopard seal in the water. But there was something about the seal more like an elephant seal, so we quickly got out cameras and binoculars and as it came closer to check us out we were ecstatic to see it was clearly a Weddell seal; there was no mistaking its fat body and small, curious face. These seals breed much further south, a few at the southern tip of the main island, but mostly further south still, on the Antarctic pack ice. They are only occasionally seen at latitudes like ours. Unfortunately it didn’t hang around, but it was still the wildlife highlight of August.


Weddell seal checking out the humans.
Weddell seal checking out the humans.




South Georgia Snippets

Viola - The Trawler that Fought World War One: On August 4th the Sunday Telegraph carried an article about the whaling and sealing vessel Dias that lies at Grytviken. In this well researched article by Jasper Copping, the fascinating history of this old former Hull steam trawler was set out. The vessel, formally known as Viola, is described as, “among the most historically significant in the world” and the article is suggesting the ship should be taken to the UK as part of the centenary events to mark the First World War in which she played a role.


Dr Robb Robinson, an academic at the University of Hull and member of the Friends of Viola/Dias group, is quoted in the article as saying it would cost around £1 million to take the vessel back to the UK, and an estimated £5 million more to restore her. “It would be wonderful to be able to bring her back. It is hard to imagine a better memorial to the war that went on around our coasts.”


You can see the original article here.


Bjørn Basberg awarded Peter Neaverson Award: Bjørn Basberg, the historian who has studied the industrial architecture of the South Georgia whaling stations, has been awarded The Peter Neaverson Award for Outstanding Scholarship for his book ‘The Shore Whaling Stations at South Georgia: A Study in Antarctic Industrial Archaeology’. The award recognizes publications which have made the greatest contribution to the research, knowledge and understanding of industrial archaeology.


The award was made by the Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA) which works to research and preserve British industrial heritage; it was announced at the organization's 40th conference in Dundee, Scotland, on August 10th. The book was published in Oslo, Norway, in 2004, but has only been recognised by the AIA now as they have only recently opened up the award to publications from outside the UK.


The book was written after several years of fieldwork. “We measured and mapped the whaling industry on the island, an industry in which Norway was heavily involved. Industrial archaeology is based on the physical remains of industrial activities and uses it, for example, for research into economic history” Bjørn Basberg explained.


Bjorn is still involved in studying the industrial history of South Georgia. The island has become both his academic study and his hobby, he explained. He is a Trustee of the SGHT and Chairman of their Cultural Heritage Steering Committee, and is currently working on various projects related to the cultural history of the island. He is also expecting to visit South Georgia in the coming summer as tutor to PhD scholar Scott Smith.




National Geographic Article on South Georgia Krill: An article appeared on the National Geographic website on August 17th taking a look at krill, South Georgia, and global warming. The article was written by Kenneth Brower who regularly refers to an interview he had a few years back in the science labs at KEP with then scientist, and soon to be Chief Executive of GSGSSI, Martin Collins. You can read the article on the National Geographic website here.


Efforts to Restore SG Whale Catcher Foca: Moves are afoot to restore an ex whale catcher with South Georgia connections. Forlandet was built in 1921 in Svelvik, Norway, for Compania Argentina de Pesca who ran the Grytviken whaling station. The catcher was built at the same time, and in the same yard (Bokeröens Skibsbyggeriat Svelvikas, Norway) as the whale catcher Albatros which remains at Grytviken.


Forlandet, called Foca when she operated out of Grytviken, is a 33m-long vessel and had a triple expansion steam engine. She was sold to another whaling enterprise working in the Arctic and was renamed Forlandet. In 1935 she was converted into a tug boat and continued to work in this capacity in Norway until 1983.


Forlandet now lies in the town of Horten, near Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian Ship Preservation Foundation took on the vessel which is reported, though not in working order, to still be in good condition - in marked contrast to Albatros. The group working on Forlandet hope to have the steam engine working within a few years, and eventually intend to restore her to full working condition.


You can find further information about the ship and conservation efforts on her from the ‘Foundation Norwegian Ship Preservation’, PO Box 27, 1349 Rykkinn, Norway.


Former whale catcher Forlandet was being used as a tug until 1983
Former whale catcher Forlandet was being used as a tug until 1983



Shackleton Centenary Voyage: With the various centenaries of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition starting in 2014, expedition organisers are developing some special cruise itineraries around the theme.


Ice Tracks Expeditions will have a Shackleton Centenary Voyage in conjunction with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), Cambridge. Aboard will be many relatives of the original Endurance crew and Ross Sea party. This cruise, in November/December 2014, will visit many key sites in the Falklands, South Georgia, Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, including King Haakon Bay, Fortuna, Stromness and of course Grytviken where there will be commemorative service in the Church. Before the cruise even starts, the passengers will be invited to attend a special dinner at Trinity House, London, on September 27th, the day Shackleton left for Buenos Aires to meet the Endurance.


The Right Honourable Alexandra Shackleton will be representing her grandfather on the trip. Also aboard will be Lt. Col. Henry Worsley (the only person to have retraced the original routes used by Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen), and Rear Admiral Nick Lambert ex-commanding officer of the ice patrol ship HMS Endurance; and the cruise plans to meet up with one of the current Royal Navy Antarctic patrol vessels. Other passengers will possibly include descendants of Macklin, Crean, Hussey, Oates, James, Spencer Smith, Green and Kerr, and there will be a banjo player. On the Endurance expedition, Leonard Hussey's banjo was considered so key to the good morale of the shipwrecked crew that, though each man was only allowed to take two pounds of possessions, Shackleton made an exception for Leonard Hussey’s banjo. Shackleton insisted Hussey should take the banjo along for the sake of maintaining the crew’s morale, describing the instrument as “vital mental medicine”.


The Ice Tracks Shackleton Centenary trip has a special logo designed by Royal Academician James Butler..
The Ice Tracks Shackleton Centenary trip has a special logo designed by Royal Academician James Butler..



It Came From Outer Spice: The two South Georgia bases had a bit of fun on the first weekend of the month entering the Antarctic Winter Bases 48hr Film Festival. Five elements that have to be included in the film are only announced on the Friday. Once these were known, the folks at KEP convened to discuss potential plots, and by late evening the bare bones of the story were decided and filming had already commenced with, unsurprisingly, a bar scene. The elements this year were a gingerbread man, a bath, a pingpong ball, the line of dialogue "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" and the sound of a sneeze.


By Saturday evening the filming was finished and convincing gore still stained the snow (and OK the labs) red. The story about an alien gingerbread man killing off the base members before being seen off by the last surviving person, with a spicy twist at the end, was in the can but needed many hours of editing before it could be uploaded to the competition site.


KEP’s “on set” in the surgery.
KEP’s “on set” in the surgery.


At Bird Island, their more elaborate plot, a Star Wars homage, meant they also had to make costumes - though handily some of these were already made from a recent fancy-dress party. Jerry, the Base Commander was delighted to fulfilling a lifelong dream of beating Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle!


Standards in this competition seem to get higher each year. Nineteen different bases entered and, though not all the votes have yet been cast, it is looking like the overall winner will be the British base Halley with “Love Gingerly” and the French base at Kerguelen second. Bird Island’s entry is doing very well, currently 1st in Screenplay, 3rd in Best Film, and 4th in Cinematography, no mean achievement with only four on the base. This energetic and involved film is just a lot of fun! KEP is scoring reasonably well in Screenplay and Use of Elements


Some of the cast of Bird Island’s ‘48hr Star Wars’.
Some of the cast of Bird Island’s ‘48hr Star Wars’.


All the 48hr film entries, including those for KEP and Bird Island can be found here.




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