South Georgia Newsletter, August 2012

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

Important Bird Area Designation For South Georgia

Photo Ruth Brown.
Photo Ruth Brown.

South Georgia has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) as part of the BirdLife programme to identify, protect and manage sites that are significant for the long-term viability of bird populations.

South Georgia is estimated to have more than 100 million individual seabirds based on the island and is described in the journal ‘British Birds’ as “one of the world's most important seabird islands.”

The designation of South Georgia as an IBA in ‘British Birds’ came in a paper by Andy Clarke (BAS) and colleagues.

IBAs are places of international significance for the conservation of birds and biodiversity and are recognised world-wide as practical tools for conservation. An IBA must be a distinct area amenable to practical conservation action. The IBA programme has identified more than 10,000 sites world-wide that form a network of areas essential to ensure the survival of bird species across their ranges.

South Georgia has 29 species of breeding bird, and is the world's most important breeding site for six species: macaroni penguin (1,000,000 breeding pairs); grey-headed albatross (77,436 breeding pairs); northern giant petrel (4,310 breeding pairs); Antarctic prion (22,000,000 breeding pairs); white-chinned petrel (2,000,000 breeding pairs); and the common diving petrel (3,800,000 breeding pairs). It is also probably a very important breeding area for seven others bird species: king penguin; gentoo penguin; wandering albatross; black-browed albatross; southern giant petrel; black-bellied storm-petrels; and the South Georgia diving petrel.

According to the abstract for the new paper, “Several of these species are globally threatened or near-threatened, which enhances the importance of South Georgia and emphasises the need for action to improve the conservation status of its birds.” South Georgia is currently classified as a single IBA but further research may lead to it being considered as several distinct IBAs.

Despite currently being home to 100 million birds, it would have been home to a vast number more before the introduction of rats. A programme of rodent eradication through the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s (SGHT) Habitat Restoration Programme was started in the summer of 2010/11 and is due to continue for the next two summer seasons.

Birds on South Georgia currently face various threats including rodents, climate change and incidental mortality in less well managed fisheries outside the SG zone. Incidental bird mortality in the South Georgia fisheries is almost nil, but South Georgia albatrosses and petrels are still killed in large numbers in more distant fisheries.

Impact on bird populations by rodents and fisheries mortalities can still be tackled but, as the paper’s abstract states, “there is probably little that can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change."

For more facts and figures about the astounding numbers of breeding birds on South Georgia visit BirdLife’s website here.


Three Caught In Avalanche

Three people were avalanched on the Grytviken to KEP track on July 31st. Deep snow covered the avalanche prone slope, but after assessing the avalanche risk close to the base, the three were continuing further along the hillside to dig a second avalanche assessment pit when they were caught by a slab avalanche. The avalanche carried the three 20m down the hill.

The route between the King Edward Point (KEP) base and Grytviken had been shut because of avalanche risk for almost a week before the event. The avalanche risk was being assessed daily using avalanche pits to assess the stability of the snow pack. The pits are dug so a metre square section of snow has deep trenches all round and then a skier stands and jumps on the exposed block to see if the snow shears in one of the lower layers. On the 31st the first assessment pit had shown no cause for concern at that site.

One of the skiers ended up very close to the water’s edge but was quickly able to free himself. The other was partly buried but with assistance from the other two was soon freed. None of them were hurt, but three skis and other equipment were lost.

Later that day several people returned to the site and using snow probes were able to locate some of the missing equipment. A metal detector was sent from the Falklands to assist finding the rest.

Confiscated Fish Funds Fight Against Illegal Fishing

Funds generated by the sale of fish confiscated from a vessel that had been poaching in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Island’s Fishery Zone (SGFZ) are being put to good use to fight illegal fishing elsewhere in the Southern Ocean.

A conference, aimed at developing regional capacity to combat illegal fishing in Southern Ocean waters, was held at Cape Town, South Africa in late July. It was funded by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) using proceeds the UK had donated from the sale of fish confiscated from an illegal vessel that had been operating in SGFZ several years ago. The same funds were used to support the conference two years ago and this year’s conference was building upon the progress that followed that first workshop.

The workshop was jointly chaired by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Polar Regions Unit and the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It was attended by representatives from 16 coastal African states, as well as regional organisations, and identified a range of practical controls that states could put in place within their ports to reduce illegal fishing activity.

On hearing of the successful conclusion of the workshop, UK Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said: "Illegal fishing is a major global problem: estimates suggest that in some areas illegal fishing accounts for up to 40% of all fish landed, and that the illegal fishing industry is worth up to £15 billion annually. This problem can only be tackled by the international community working together. Initiatives such as this workshop play a vital role in facilitating the commitment and collaboration that are needed for an improved deterrence of illegal fishing."


Giant Berg

A giant Antarctic tabular iceberg is lying close to the entrance of Cumberland Bay in an area generally used by the krill fishing fleet at this time of year. The triangular shaped berg, measuring approximately 7.5 nautical miles (NM) along its longest side, almost completely blocks the horizon when looking out from the bay.

An even larger berg is lying further north of the Island. Called C19C, this berg originated from the Ross Ice Shelf, breaking off in May 2002. The main iceberg then split and split again producing C19C which drifted westwards on the circumpolar current. C19C was positioned at 53.2°S 37.1°W on August 16th and is 19 by 15NM, more than three times bigger than the smaller one. A stunning NASA satellite image shows both bergs in relation to the Island.

The krill vessels may have moved further south than they would traditionally be because of the berg outside Cumberland Bay, but far from impeding fishing, one krill-trawler captain said it has been useful as it has provided shelter from some of the many gales this month.

Iceberg C19C is north of the tip of South Georgia whilst the smaller but still vast triangular berg sits outside Cumberland Bay. Image NASA
Iceberg C19C is north of the tip of South Georgia whilst the smaller but still vast triangular berg sits outside Cumberland Bay. Image NASA

South Georgia Heritage Trust Newsletters

The South Georgia Heritage Trust has published two newsletters recently. July’s edition of ‘Project News’ has the latest updates on the Habitat Restoration Project, which aims to eradicate rodents from South Georgia. The newsletter highlights the efforts being made to try and raise the £1.4 million still needed for this summer’s fieldwork, and the further £2 million needed for the following season. The cost of the whole Habitat Restoration Project is predicted to be £7.5 million.

There will be a team of four helicopter pilots and two helicopter engineers for Phase Two; two more pilots and one more engineer than for Phase One.

Articles include one about the 270 tonnes of specially designed bait that will be used in just a few short months at the start of Phase Two. The value of the bait is well over half a million pounds, and it is crucial to keep it in good condition, so a good deal of thought and effort has gone into protecting it for the journey from the USA, via the UK, to South Georgia where it will be offloaded to remote camps. Bait will be well protected in octagonal ‘oxboxes’ which are very robust, waterproof and also maximise the storage space in a shipping container. They were tested on a four and half thousand kilometre road trip, stacked three deep, from Wisconsin to Florida and back; a test they passed.

Other stories in the newsletter highlight the active support for the Habitat Restoration Project by the Princess Royal who hosted a lunch to support it at St James’s Palace recently; and another, written by seabird expert Peter Harrison, about the massive effect rodents have had on South Georgia’s bird populations.

You can download 1MB ‘Project News’ from the SGHT website here.

The August edition of the SGHT’s newsletter ‘South Georgia Dispatch’ has several additional interesting articles, including a review of the key highlights of the year for the charity; profiles of some of the staff raising money for the Habitat Restoration Project and those who will be working at the South Georgia Museum this summer; a look at the SG Museum’s Curatorial Intern programme, which annually awards the David Nicholls internship bursary to a graduate of the St. Andrew’s Museum and Galleries Studies course, enabling them to gain work experience at the SG Museum.

You can download 1.8MB ‘South Georgia Dispatch’ from the SGHT website here.

Retreat Of South Georgia’s Glaciers

Dr. John Gordon explains why glacial retreat, particularly of the Briggs Glacier, which forms a barrier that keeps the Cape Rosa and Nunez Peninsulas areas free of rats, is making habitat restoration on South Georgia an urgent priority:

Geologist Dr. John Gordon, wrote: The key barriers to rodent movement on South Georgia are the Briggs Glacier in King Haakon Bay, and several smaller glaciers to the west on the south side of the bay. If these glaciers retreat further inland it will make the Cape Rosa area vulnerable to rat infestation, then only the glacier in Shallop Cove would protect the large Nunez Peninsula.

Recent satellite images show further recession and breakup of the Briggs icefront since 2003, which is a worry. The glacier appears to be grounded on rock at around sea level but the big uncertainty concerns the sub-glacial topography inland. If the glacier retreats further back onto land, then an ice-free corridor would likely appear in front, but if there is a basin below sea level, then it would calve back to the next pinning point. The form of the glacier surface tends to suggest the former.

The recent pace of retreat of South Georgia's glaciers threatens not only to open up new areas of the Island to predation by invasive rodents, but also to close the small window of opportunity we have to remove rodents before baiting areas increase and put at risk the achievements (of the Habitat Restoration Project) so far. This emphasises the urgency of completing the Habitat Restoration project, and the need to support this critical work.”

This article originally appeared in the July issue of the SGHT’s newsletter ‘Project News’.

A Field Guide To The Wildlife Of South Georgia

‘A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia’ is the title of the comprehensive new 200-page softback guide to the Island’s wildlife. The book contains over 350 colour photos of the fauna and flora it describes.

Introductory pages give an overview of the Island’s topography, geology, climate and much more besides before describing each species of bird, seal, cetacean, insect, spider, other invertebrates, plants, algae, lichen and fungi that you are likely to see on the Island, and a few you are not - some of the rare visitors that have been recorded here. In all around 180 species are included.

For each bird or seal species there is a description of their distribution, how to identify them, what they sound like, and their behaviour. Pointers are given in text on the photographs to help distinguish similar looking species such as the Antarctic prion and the slender-billed prion.

Robert Burton, editor of the field guide, is a renowned natural history writer who has a rich understanding of the Island’s wildlife, having spent time studying at the BAS research station at Bird Island and has a long association with the Island. He was aided by Professor John Croxall, who studied the birds and mammals of South Georgia over three decades as a leading scientist for BAS, and there are contributions from other experts on South Georgia’s flora and fauna.

Despite his intimate knowledge of the wildlife of South Georgia editor Robert Burton said: “It was only when I started to compile the list of species that I realised just how rich and diverse is the wildlife of the Island. We have included 88 species of birds, some, it has to be said, only recorded once but they range from barn owl and barn swallow to emperor penguin and black-necked swan. And overlooked by nearly every visitor, space had to be found for several hundred plants and a surprising variety of invertebrates. Compiling this Field Guide was possible only because so many experts were eager to contribute their knowledge of their favourite island.”

The guide is small enough to fit in a large coat pocket and will be a vital tool for anyone visiting the Island. It is also part of a suite of books on South Georgia produced by WILDGuides; other complimentary publications include a visitor’s guide to South Georgia and a guide to the flora of the island, however the new field guide is the sole book to provide information on all of the Island’s species.

‘A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia’ is published by the SGHT and produced by Princeton. All proceeds from the guide will go towards funding the Trust’s conservation work on South Georgia, including its landmark Habitat Restoration Project.

ISBN: 9780691156613

List Price: US $ 24.95 / UK £17.95

Postage: UK £3.70, Europe £5.35, ROW £12.75

The guide can be ordered online from the SGHT shop or from John Wiley & Sons Ltd, New Era Estate, Oldlands Way, Bognor Regis PO22 9NQ (Tel: +44 (0) 1243 843291)

The pages on wandering albatrosses use photographs to help with identification through their 8 stages of plumage, from newly fledged to mature adult.
The pages on wandering albatrosses use photographs to help with identification through their 8 stages of plumage, from newly fledged to mature adult.

Fishing And Shipping News

The toothfish longlining season finished on August 31st. Four longliners were fishing at the start of August, but just one remained to complete its allotted fish quota by the end; the others completed their TAC at various times through the month then sailed for the Falklands for catch verification.

Three krill trawlers were operating to the north and east of the Island at the start of the month. A fourth trawler, new to the fishery, was inspected and licensed on August 15th. All four trawlers were still fishing at the end of the month; the good catches this season have continued.

A reefer vessel arrived on the Dartmouth Point anchorage in Cumberland Bay on August 20th and transhipped krill from, and refuelled, three of the trawlers during the week that followed before sailing. Another reefer arrived in port on August 30th and is expected to stay for around a month.

Blue Whales - New Stamp Issue

Blue whales are the subject of a new SGSSI stamp issue released on August 31st. The four stamp designs are based on watercolour paintings by artist Kim Chater.

The blue whale is the largest mammal, possibly the largest animal, to ever inhabit the earth. Blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere reach lengths of 27-30m, but their Northern Hemisphere counterparts are smaller, on average 23 to 24.5m. Adult females are larger than males, the largest perhaps weighing as much as 150 tons (136,000kgs). They have astounding body parts – tongues that weigh two tons, a heart as large as a small car, and skinfolds (ventral grooves) that extend from beneath the tips of their lower jaws to their navels. When expanded, these folds increase the interior of the blue whale's mouth to the size of a train's box car. Instead of teeth, blue whales have 300 to 400 fringed baleen plates that hang from their upper jaws and strain their food. They feed on krill, a richly abundant shrimp-like invertebrate that thrives in the waters around South Georgia and Antarctica. During the summer feeding season the blue whale gorges itself, consuming 4 tons or more each day. This means it may eat up to 40 million krill a day!

The blue whale blow (spout) is tall and straight and over 6m high. A small dorsal fin sits three-quarters of the way down the top of the back. They are dark bluish-grey in colour, but often with lighter-coloured blotches or mottling on a darker background (or with darker spots on a lighter background). A blue whale's mottling and blotches, like human fingerprints, are unique to each individual. These blotches allow scientists to identify individual whales. Blue whales also acquire microorganisms called diatoms, which gives the underside of their bodies a yellowish green caste. Because of this yellow colour, the early whalers gave them the name 'sulphur bottoms'.

Blue whales are usually found singly or in pairs. They often lift their flukes clear of the water on their final dive, which may last anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The blue whale makes deep and rumbling sounds which can be felt as much as heard. These low-frequency sounds travel long distances through the water, allowing them to communicate with each other over hundreds of miles of ocean.

Blue whales reach sexual maturity between the ages of 6 to 10 years, or when males average about 23m and females are about 24m. Calves are born at intervals of 2 to 3 years, and gestation lasts 12 months. Calves are 7- 8.2m long at birth and weigh 2,700kg. Calves nurse for 7 to 8 months and are weaned when they reach 16m in length. At that time they weigh about 20,000kg. During the nursing period, calves consume 379 litres of the fat-rich mother's milk each day, gain 90kg a day, and grow 2.5cm in length a day.

Because of their enormous size and speed, blue whales were safe from early whalers, who could not pursue them in open boats with hand harpoons. But in 1868 a Norwegian, Svend Foyn, revolutionized the whaling industry with the invention of the exploding harpoon gun and by using steam and diesel powered factory ships and catcher boats. He also perfected the technique of inflating dead whales with air so they wouldn't sink after being harpooned. The whaling industry began to focus on blue whales after 1900. A single 27.5m (90ft) blue whale could yield up to 120 barrels of oil, and the blues were killed by the thousands. For management purposes, the blue whale became the measure against which all other whale catches were determined. A catch limit (based on oil yield) was set for blue whales with equivalent limits for other species based on their size compared to the blue whale. This was called the Blue Whale Unit (BWU): one blue whale = two fin whales = 2.5 humpback whales = six sei whales.

The slaughter peaked in 1931 when over 29,000 blue whales were killed in one season. Later they became so scarce that the whalers turned to other species and, belatedly, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned all hunting of blue whales in 1966 and gave them worldwide protection. Recovery has been extremely slow, and only in the last few years have there been signs that their numbers may be increasing. Pre-whaling population estimates were over 350,000 blue whales, but up to 99% of them were killed during whaling efforts. Presently, there are an estimated 5-10,000 blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere, and only around 3-4,000 in the Northern Hemisphere.

The largest blue whale ever recorded was 34.1m. It was caught and cut up at Grytviken in 1912.

(Text by Kim Chater.)

The new stamps have a face value of 65p, 75p, £1 and £1.20.

South Georgia stamps can be bought from

Ducking Off Course

A vagrant duck blended well with the local South Georgia pintail ducks in Kind Edward Cove, but bright white flashes on its face and rump made biologist Alastair Wilson look again. The misfit was first seen on July 22nd, but only at a distance that allowed for a poor photo. “With the help of some photo adjustments I managed to get my snapshot reasonably clear,” Alastair said, “and by Googling ‘South American ducks’ I found the most likely identification, a male blue-winged teal.” The photograph was sent to Falklands Conservation who came back with the same identification.

Persistent searching was rewarded a fortnight later by a closer encounter, close enough to get a good photo and confirm the ID.

Blue winged teal migrate south from breeding grounds in mid to south North America to the Gulf of Mexico, as far as West Indies and neotropics, and reaching Peru and Brazil. This one is well off course, “Obviously this plucky duck got a bit carried away and headed further south than usual.” Alastair said.

A blue winged teal has been recorded here once before. A male in good condition was seen in Cumberland Bay area between April and June1972. Unluckily, in the parlance of the day that bird was “collected” on June 20th…..those were the days when biologist shot anything unusual with a gun, not a camera!

The blue winged teal shows its distinctive markings more when in flight. Photos Alastair Wilson.
The blue winged teal shows its distinctive markings more when in flight. Photos Alastair Wilson.

Macquarie’s Dogs Hunt Rabbits Not Penguins

Macquarie Island’s tracker dogs have been trained to ignore local wildlife as ably demonstrated here by Joker ignoring this king penguin. Photo Macquarie Dispatch.
Macquarie Island’s tracker dogs have been trained to ignore local wildlife as ably demonstrated here by Joker ignoring this king penguin. Photo Macquarie Dispatch.

Following aerial baiting of the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island in July 2011, the latest news is that it has now been nine months since a live rabbit has been seen there, and they are confident that rabbit numbers are now extremely low with maybe fewer than five left on the island. Six hunters and six dog handlers are on the Macquarie to hunt down the last rabbits. The dogs have been trained to ignore the local wildlife, and each dog has different skills; some are good on rock stacks, some for ranging at a distance from their handler, and some are best for close work in the thick tussac grass.

The latest edition of the ‘Macquarie Dispatch’, published on August 29th, also reports that vegetation and breeding bird numbers are recovering already since the eradication of rodents and control of rabbits on the island.

You can sign up for updates on the Macquarie Island eradications newsletter by email.

All editions can be downloaded here

Bird Island Diary

By Ruth Brown, Winter Base Commander at the BAS Research Station at Bird Island.

Bird Island Research Station, with a snowy La Roche in the background.
Bird Island Research Station, with a snowy La Roche in the background.

Jen and I have only a few short weeks until we both start daily rounds of the island looking for nesting birds, so August is the time to finish off the last of our winter lab-work before the busy season kicks in again. For Jen this means long hours of identifying squid beaks that were collected in the summer from albatross diet samples. These beaks survive the digestion process and allow us to identify the exact species of squid on which the albatross have been feeding. For myself, lab-work currently involves processing blue-eyed shag pellets. Blue-eyed shags breed on Bird Island in the summer, and helpfully regurgitate any inedible parts of their prey in the form of a pellet, making the study of their diet rather easy. In the summer months I collect pellets from the ground around the shag colony and freeze them. Then in the winter the pellets are defrosted, weighed, measured and dissected. As well as squid beaks these pellets also yield otoliths (fish ear bones) which allow us to tell which species of fish the birds have been eating.

Jen working on squid beak ID.
Jen working on squid beak ID.

When not working in the lab, Jen and I have also been kept busy by the wandering albatross chicks. The chicks have been getting steadily bigger and fatter throughout the winter and are now starting to get their adult plumage, which means they are old enough to be ringed. There are nearly 600 chicks on the island, all of which must be ringed, so the task will take several weeks to complete. Like many seabirds, albatross chicks defend themselves by spraying a foul-smelling oil, so it is easy to tell when one of us has been out ringing chicks by the interesting aroma which follows us around afterwards.

Lining up to be ringed – wandering albatross chicks.
Lining up to be ringed – wandering albatross chicks.

Throughout August Jon has continued his daily leopard seal rounds, patrolling the beaches of the island looking for leps and taking photos of any he finds so that they can be identified. This is the time of year when new leps start to show up – individuals that have not been seen on Bird Island before, and it is Jon’s job to think of names for them. Two new female seals have been spotted this month, and after much nagging and wheedling from us, Jon “decided” to name them after the bird girls of Bird Island – the new seals will now be known as JJ (for Jenny James) and Margarita (from my middle name Margaret).

Jon spots a leopard seal with a giant petrel hanging around hoping for some scraps from the lep’s meal.
Jon spots a leopard seal with a giant petrel hanging around hoping for some scraps from the lep’s meal.

This month Rob has been kept busy as usual with everyday maintenance and repairs of the buildings and plant. There was some excitement in mid-August when high winds and heavy rain caused the building to spring a leak, and water started dribbling through the ceiling. However Rob quickly identified the source of the problem – the cover of an air vent which had blown off – it was soon fixed.

But it’s not all work here at Bird Island, the relatively light workload of winter allows us ample time to go out and play too. Earlier in the month we took advantage of a heavy snowfall followed by a lovely sunny day to indulge in a spot of tobogganing. With the snow-covered mountains of South Georgia as a backdrop, we could not have wished for a more beautiful private piste. Another favourite pastime of mine is photographing the wildlife, and Bird Island is not short of wildlife to photograph, even in the winter. One of the most amazing spectacles here is the gentoo penguins coming ashore in the evening. There are several large colonies of gentoos on the island, and after spending the day feeding at sea the penguins gather offshore in huge groups before charging towards the land and scrambling up the beach en masse. Trying to photograph a high-speed penguin in low light conditions is challenging, but perseverance pays off with the occasional good shot.

Gentoo penguins porpoising in to the beach. Photos Ruth Brown
Gentoo penguins porpoising in to the beach. Photos Ruth Brown

South Georgia Snippets

Rock and roll: An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred in the South Sandwich Islands region on August 9th. The earthquake was centred at 59.777°S, 28.180°W, 125 km (77 miles) SW of Bristol Island. On August 14th it was followed by another large earthquake, measuring 5.2, at 59.162°S, 26.167°W, just 24 km (14 miles) SE of Bristol Island.

Operation Journeyman: Following Chris Cole’s reminiscences of his part in the secret 1977 taskforce named ‘Operation Journeyman’ in last month’s newsletter, we were contacted by someone who was on the submarine HMS Dreadnought at the same time.

Our correspondent said the Captain of HMS Dreadnought was Sam Salt and for their part in ‘Operation Journeyman’ the submarine sailed directly to the Falkland Islands tasked with shadowing the Argentine Aircraft Carrier 25th de Mayo.

When the Argentine fleet eventually returned to port, HMS Dreadnought continued to patrol Falkland waters into 1978. During this period they did not surface and “in fact remained dived for 4+ months”.

Our correspondent remembers surfacing only once during the operation, off Ascension Island en route back to the UK, for a mail drop. As we know from last month, the drop did not go according to plan and the wheel of the helicopter got stuck in the submarine’s superstructure. “We received two sacks of mail before she lost her wheel. The helicopter returned to HMS Phoebe and in fact ditched our remaining post (5 month’s worth) in the sea rather than on their flight deck. We had been away from home for over 7 months and received no further mail.”

Enclosed with these recollections from the perspective of someone on the submarine HMS Dreadnought was a photograph of the now detached helicopter wheel!

Antarctic 48-hour Film Festival: The standard of entries for this year’s Antarctic 48-hour film festival seemed a lot higher than the last couple of years, at least that seems to be the only explanation why the KEP and BI masterpieces did not score as well as they surely deserved to! The Film Festival has been running since 2008, and is an annual competition open to any base in Antarctica (or on the sub-Antarctic Islands). A five minute film has to be shot, edited and uploaded over the course of a single weekend. It can be on any subject but must include five elements, only revealed to participants on Friday August 3rd. Both bases had a lot of fun making their films, though it is an exhausting process to get it all done and uploaded in time. This year the elements were: a queen; the sound of breaking ice; the line “I’ll save you”; a computer mouse; and a map of the base or local area. See if you can spot them all in the two local entries, and by coincidence James Bond featured in both the KEP and BI entries this year.

Congratulations to the French base on the sun-Antarctic island of Kerguelen for winning the best film category with their entry ‘Super Mario in Kerguelen’.

Bird Island’s entry “Quantum of Cybermice”.

KEP’s entry “Operation Drama Queen”

BAS bases photographic competition won by KEP entrant: A photographic contest open to people on all the BAS bases set two themes, light and dark. A fabulous range of photographs were entered in both categories but it is no surprise that the dark category was won by talented KEP photographer Alastair Wilson with this stunning night time photograph of a winter camp, star trails and a backdrop of the snout of the Harker Glacier.

Winning photograph by Alastair Wilson.
Winning photograph by Alastair Wilson.

End of the rainbow: Webcam 1 at KEP looks across the bay to Mt Paget. A website called Zeitcam creates a daily movie from the still images from webcam 1. On August 27th there was a rainbow for much of the afternoon, which creates an unusual display on the short movie. Watch it here and look out for both ends of the rainbow.

Dates for Your Diary

Troubled Waters: A long running artistic project to highlight the plight of the world’s albatrosses when they encounter the effects of poor fishing practice will shortly culminate in an exhibition and book.

Artist Bruce Pearson has been following the seabirds both where they breed, including on South Georgia, and where they feed, sometimes thousands of miles away off the shores of other continents. His endeavours to experience the clash of birds and the fishing industry saw him join various fishing vessels where he worked alongside fishermen, and Albatross Task Force observers, to witness the collision of birds and fishing interests at sea and at first hand. “On board the fishing vessels, it was agonising to realise that some of the albatrosses dying on longlines were ‘my’ birds! – I had got to know them individually as a young artist-scientist in the late 1970s.” he wrote afterwards.

Since returning Bruce Pearson has been working on a Troubled Waters book ‘Trailing the albatross, an artist’s journey.’ which is due for publication in October.

An exhibition of work produced during the long project will be held at the Artspace galleries (Maddox Street, W1) in London from the November 26th to December 1st 2012.

The South Georgia Heritage Trust plan a reception and fundraising event at the Artspace Gallery on the evening of November 28th.

You can read more about the Troubled Waters project on Bruce Pearson’s website here.

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