South Georgia Newsletter, April 2011

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

End Of Successful Rat Eradication Phase 1

The Habitat Restoration (HR) team left South Georgia on a high, feeling that Phase 1 of the South Georgia Heritage Trust's (SGHT) rat eradication project had been 100% successful. Over the past few weeks, using two helicopters and only a small team of just eleven people, baited pellets have been spread over an area of 12,500 hectares, several times larger than previously attempted worldwide. If Phase 1 has succeeded in killing every rat in the baited areas it will be an amazing success; monitoring in the areas will hopefully prove this in the next two years.

Most of the work was done in February and March, but the team kept busy for their last few days on the Island. With the main area baited they turned attentions to the practicalities of how helicopter operations may work in the later phases which would be on ground further from the project base at Grytviken. In early April, the SG patrol ship “Pharos SG” (FPV) was stationed near Gold Harbour to provide support for reconnaissance flights in advance of Phase 2, due to commence in two years time, but poor weather and the short time left before the HR team was due to leave meant the reconnaissance was cancelled.

The project's radio repeater on Mt Hodges was flown down before engineer Graham Charman set to preparing the helicopters for winter storage in the machine shop at Grytviken. The rest of the team had a busy time storing the rest of the equipment, loading cargo onto the FPV and packing and cleaning prior to leaving the Island on April 3rd.

GSGSSI biologist Andy Black has continued monitoring for birds killed by secondary poisoning. Some bird deaths from this were expected and indeed more than 80 pintail ducks and twenty skuas have been found. Attention will be given to further mitigation methods to try to reduce secondary mortality further in the later phases of the project.

Phase 2 is due to start in 2013 and the whole project, covering 80,000 hectares, is due to be completed by 2015.

SGHT plan to celebrate the success of Phase 1 with a special lecture in London on May 4th, when Project Director Tony Martin will describe all the events of Phase 1 to an invited audience. There will be a report on this meeting in the next edition of this newsletter.

“Endurance” Replacement Announced

The Norwegian vessel “MV Polarbjørn” will be chartered by the MOD for three years to go on ice patrol in the South Atlantic. The commercial icebreaker, which is normally based in Bergen, Norway, is to be renamed “HMS Protector” and replaces the stricken “HMS Endurance”.

The new “HMS Protector”, which was completed in 2001, displaces 4,985 tons, has 100 berths and can act as a polar research ship or sub-sea support vessel. She is expected to arrive in Portsmouth, UK, in May to be fitted with specialist military equipment required for her deployments. The Navy will use the ship to continue its Antarctic mission – updating charts, supporting the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), monitoring wildlife and maintaining Britain’s presence in the South Atlantic.

Defence Minister Lord Astor said “HMS Protector” would provide: “interim replacement ice patrol ship capability for at least the next three years while we consider the long-term future of “HMS Endurance”. The navy still have to decide whether the “Endurance” should be repaired or replaced permanently.”

“MV Polarbjørn” is owned by 'GC Rieber' who also owns the scientific support ship “RRS Ernest Shackleton” which is currently chartered to the BAS.

Info Penguin News.

Fishing And Shipping News

Longliner and “HMS York” in Cumberland Bay. Photo Samatha Crimmin.
Longliner and “HMS York” in Cumberland Bay. Photo Samatha Crimmin.

At the beginning of the month two longliners were fishing in the South Sandwich Islands zone. The main South Georgia toothfish fishing season also started in April.

GSGSSI Fishery Biologist Judith Brown is working as an observer aboard one of the vessels and reports the SG fishing season has started well with four vessels fishing earlier in the month and two more vessels inspected and licensed to join the fleet later.

All the longliners are undertaking science work for the Government - research includes trialling umbrella/trotlines (to attempt to prevent whales taking fish off the longlines); assisting a PhD student using a camera deployed on lines to investigate benthos species around South Georgia; and carrying out research in reduced impact areas (areas where fishing is usually prohibited). All vessels are also conducting tagging work on toothfish and skates for use in stock assessment analysis.

Two warships were on patrol in South Georgia waters in the later half of the month (see reports below).

The last cruise ship of the season, “Plancius" with 61 passengers, visited KE Cove on April 1st.

Three yachts have been around the Island this month, one “Australis” continues a long charter supporting a film crew filming wildlife with a 3-D camera.

Yacht “Girafa” sails into KE Cove. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
Yacht “Girafa” sails into KE Cove. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

Navy Visits By “HMS York” And “HMS Clyde”

“HMS York” and harbour launch “Pipit”. Photo Samantha Crimmin
“HMS York” and harbour launch “Pipit”. Photo Samantha Crimmin

Two Royal Navy ships have been on patrol around South Georgia in April.

The warship “HMS York” arrived in Cumberland Bay on April 21st, bringing a team of EOD ordnance disposal experts to deal with ordinance finds on the Island. A patrol group of the Falkland Island Resident Infantry Company (currently Coldstream Guards) were put ashore overnight to patrol on the Thatcher Peninsula. The vessel then sailed for the southern end of the Island, taking a small group of KEP locals along. Read the reports below.

“HMS Clyde” in KE Cove. Photo Robert Paterson.
“HMS Clyde” in KE Cove. Photo Robert Paterson.

“HMS Clyde” arrived a few days after “HMS York” departed. The Captain, Lt. Commander Carl Wiseman, again invited a group of KEPers to join the vessel for part of the patrol.

The ship called at St Andrews Bay, to drop off repair materials for the hut there, and also Husvik, Jason Harbour and Drygalski Fjord. As the Royal Wedding fell during the patrol, celebrations were enjoyed in the Senior Rates' mess which was appropriately decorated with Union Jacks and bunting, with a very British meal of fish and chips and mushy peas..

Royal Wedding celebrations in the Senior Rates' mess. Photo Robert Paterson
Royal Wedding celebrations in the Senior Rates' mess. Photo Robert Paterson

The guests also enjoyed a charity penguin racing evening that raised £260 for charity. Timed to coincide with the naval patrol, the RAF conducted a practice airdrop to Cumberland Bay with a Hercules and tanker aircraft overflying on April 29th.

The naval visits made for a busy time for KEP boating with boat support provided for both vessels to assist those aboard to get ashore for work and leg stretches. Enjoyable social occasions were held ashore with members from both vessels.

The Hercules overflew Cumberland Bay during the naval patrol. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
The Hercules overflew Cumberland Bay during the naval patrol. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

EOD Clear Up

“HMS York” delivered a team of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts and supporting staff for a four day visit to KEP to deal with ordnance finds - these are largely armaments and suspicious objects left over from the 1982 conflict and later military practice.

The team stayed in Larsen House, and the four-person RAF EOD team, accompanied by Government Officer Robert Paterson as local guide, spent the first day dealing with finds in the local area. The team tackled the remains of a Milan rocket on the slopes of Mt Duse, a smoke grenade near the Bore Valley dam, a mortar round below Brown Mountain and an ex-whaling harpoon head that had formed part of a display outside the SG Museum. At the end of a long hard day covering a lot of ground the last item to dispose of was at the head of Junction Valley, leaving a long march back to KEP at dusk.

The EOD team in Junction Valley. Photo Robert Paterson.
The EOD team in Junction Valley. Photo Robert Paterson.

Better weather on the second day allowed the the team to be dropped by boat at Corral Bay, from where they walked up the valley to deal with the remains of two mortar rounds.

Despite wind and snow on the third day the group set out to Zenker Ridge, Hestersletten, to find an item which turned out to be safe, and was removed.

On the final day, one member returned to the Gull Lake area with a metal detector to find some machine gun bullets they had not located the first day as they were under snow, whilst two others put on a small demonstration for residents and others at KEP.

During the very successful visit the team dealt with eight known objects and found some others, leaving just one known smoke grenade at Husvik to be disposed of another time. Despite working hard the team seemed to enjoy the visit and were rewarded with good sightings of wildlife along the way.

The EOD team as Hestesletten. Photo Robert Paterson.
The EOD team as Hestesletten. Photo Robert Paterson.

Peat v Ocean Cores For Climate History - Can't Both Be Right

By Professor Chris Turney, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of New South Wales.

In 2010, I was fortunate to be involved in an exciting piece of research led by Matt McGlone at Landcare Research in New Zealand. Published in Nature Geoscience, we reported a long-term record of vegetation and climate change on sub-Antarctic Campbell Island. The results were unexpected and fascinating, to explain them we came up with a theory we now want to test with further research at South Georgia. Campbell Island is located at the far southern end of the Pacific at 52˚S, entirely surrounded by ocean. By looking back through the ancient peat sediments on the island, we found large changes in the types of preserved pollen grains over the past 18,000 years. It all pointed to big swings in vegetation across the island. Fortunately, because the vegetation is very sensitive to summer conditions, we were able to get a handle on temperatures in the past. Fascinatingly, the island temperatures didn’t appear to track those recorded by ocean cores from the region.

Previous work on temperature records from this part of the Southern Ocean had consistently shown warming began at the end of the last ice age around 18,000 years ago, peaked at warmer than present day temperatures (up to 3˚C warmer) between 12,000 and 8000 years ago and thereafter cooled. In contrast, the Campbell Island results showed summers remained cooler than now until around 9000 years ago, after which they warmed to present day levels. The likeliest explanation for this divergence of the ocean and land temperature trends is the changing position and intensity of the westerly winds. Today, the strongest westerly winds in the Southern Ocean lie directly over the island. It looks like the vast north-south interchange of heat caused by these westerly winds was established at their current latitude some 9000 years ago, drawing warm air south over the island in summer (relative to the ocean) but having less of an effect in winter, leading to cooling.

The Campbell Island record of climate points towards large changes in the position and intensity of the westerly winds in the past. The winds appear to be very sensitive to subtle changes in climate across the southern hemisphere which in turn may have had a major influence globally. Wanting to test these ideas on an island in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, a PhD student, Alan Williams, and myself, visited South Georgia, part funded by the Australian Research Council. South Georgia is ideally placed to investigate past vegetation and climate changes. It lies immediately downwind of the Drake Passage, through which the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is forced while travelling from west to east around Antarctica. Importantly, the ACC is a current driven by the Southern Hemisphere westerlies. As a result, the climate of today’s South Georgia is dominated by frequent low pressure weather systems that cross the Island, bringing large amounts of rain (on average, a metre and a half each year). If anywhere should pick up changes in westerly airflow in the southern part of the Atlantic, South Georgia should preserve a record of it.

As part of our fieldwork, Alan and I braved the fur seals to collect peat and lake sediments that span the last 2000 years. We will work on this material back in the lab, using similar methods to Campbell Island, to try to get a precise record of what the climate did on decadal and centennial timescales. Alongside this work, we also took samples from moraines, ramparts of rock marking the former extent of glaciers, to date their rate of retreat and compare to the climate reconstructions made from the Island and those we have recently collected from Antarctica. It should give us some real insights into how these high latitude environments respond to past and future climate change. Unfortunately, the downside was a several day boat trip from Stanley on the Falkland Islands. Oh well. We hope to do it all again, maybe next year, to conduct further field research in South Georgia, meanwhile you can visit my popular science website.

Professor Chris Turney in the field.
Professor Chris Turney in the field.

Putting South Georgia on the Map By Alec Trendall - Review

Reviewed by Anjali Pande

Alec Trendall's book 'Putting South Georgia on the Map' tells the story of several determined men’s hardships, in a tough and remote environment, surveying South Georgia, and is a book that any adventurous soul will enjoy. The book details the way that South Georgia was surveyed, a subject that is obviously close to the author’s heart, as he was a member of the South Georgia Surveys himself and lived through some of the hardships involved in creating a map.

It is not immediately obvious that the subject matter of this book is literally what the title says….putting South Georgia on the map, and, not being a surveyor or cartographer myself, I may have missed some of the finer points of the technical difficulties of the surveying of the Island. For someone unfamiliar with surveying, there is a lot of jargon and assumed prior knowledge, but without bothering to look at the glossary, one can just read it gleaning information from context. The book did not grab me immediately, as a lot of setting the scene is written in a very factual manner and didn’t flow/read easily. Although the life history of the key protagonist is interesting, the thing that seems to be missing is the emotive descriptions and context.

The latter half of the book flows better and allows the reader to get involved in the story as the author cleverly uses extracts from the protagonists' diaries and strings them together into a continuous narrative, using his own words to provide a broader context. After all, who can resist a glimpse into another person’s private thoughts by being privy to their diary?! The emotions that were absent in the former half of the book are brought more to light here. The biographies at the end of the book add a well roundedness to the people described in it.

The narrative is well supported by the many colour photos, illustrations and maps with detailed captions. The interesting choice of an A4 size book with glossy pages give the book a nice feel to read.

Despite some difficult reading, 'Putting South Georgia on the Map' brings more appreciation for what cartography really entails and, for anyone familiar with South Georgia, this book is a must have as it will invoke memories and an even greater appreciation of that magical place.

'Putting South Georgia on the Map' is available in hard cover, soft cover and a limited edition (of 100 copies supplied in a slipcase, each copy numbered and signed by the author.) The prices posted surface mail (in Australian dollars) are: Soft cover A$ 50; Hard cover A$ 60 and Limited Edition A$ 90. Prices are A$10 less for Australia.

For payment details go to or for further information contact the author/publisher here

In Command With The Royal Navy

By yachtswoman and KEP Boating Officer and Ashley Perrin

A lunch time conversation between Sam (base Dr.) and the Captain of “HMS York” about tourists who come to South Georgia seeing more of the Island than the BAS staff resulted in three of us being invited aboard for a two and half day cruise. I was lucky enough to have my name drawn out of the hat along with Sam Sue and Ruth, so it was a girls' trip and a most memorable and unusual Easter weekend holiday!

On the bridge. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
On the bridge. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

We left Cumberland Bay and steamed down to Gold Harbour where we anchored and had sundowner drinks on the flight deck toasting the Queen on the occasion of her birthday. The katabatic winds were in full swing with 45 knot gusts and the water being thrown around but it calmed down at sunset. After drinks we were invited to dine with the Captain along with three of the officers. The meal was delightful, complete with candelabras and crystal glasses.

The next day after watching Gold Harbour light up at in the sunrise we weighed anchor and headed for Drygalski Fjord. What a stunning place with sheer cliffs plunging into the sea, glaciers coming into the fjord from all directions and we were lucky enough that the sun came out. We even spotted two Orca swimming out of the fjord and the yacht “Australis” at anchor in Larsen Harbour. Onward to the most southerly point for the “HMS York” on their deployment which was Cape Disappointment where we turned around and headed back to Cumberland Bay to be at anchor before sunset.

Enjoying the view from the bow in Dryglaski Fjord. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
Enjoying the view from the bow in Dryglaski Fjord. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

I found the system of using fuel out of a tank while pumping it full of seawater to maintain trim fascinating. In normal marine systems this would be a horrific situation resulting in fuel bug and blocked filters however, on “HMS York” they separate the water and fuel, polish it and filter it multiple times before it reaches two of the four engines aboard. Two of the engines are Concord jet engines that drive the propellers using the thrust from the engines turning the equivalent of a windmill.

We were lucky enough to be put up in a Petty Officers' quarters, the ‘messes’ for the ratings is a different matter with up to 50 people sleeping in the area of a normal size living room and dining room. Our bunk rooms were much more comfortable than a racing yacht as they didn’t leak and were air conditioned. However, the seat belts for heavy seas told a different story!

Thank you to the Captain and crew for an amazing holiday, and as the Wardroom were very welcoming to us and we thanked them by making a new uckers board (a game played by the Navy) when we got back.

Bubbles For Breeding Birds

Photo Robert Burton.
Photo Robert Burton.

Win a bottle of champagne!

The South Georgia Association is showing support for the SGHT’s rat eradication programme by offering a bottle of champagne to the first person to find a pipit’s nest on the Thatcher Peninsula - the area around Grytviken. Pipits are occasionally seen in this area. They are probably young birds that have left their parents’ territories and are looking for somewhere to settle. So, once rats are eliminated, colonisation could start soon, indeed several pipits have already been spotted passing through, and feeding on the shoreline, in the area that was only recently baited to remove rats. Habitat Restoration Project Director, Tony Martin, says pipits could be breeding on the Thatcher Peninsula as soon as next summer.

Pipits are already regularly seem around the Thatcher Peninsula. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
Pipits are already regularly seem around the Thatcher Peninsula. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

Bird Island Diary

By Stacy Adlard & Jenn Lawson, British Antarctic Survey Research Station at Bird Island.

March: March is a month of change on Bird Island. It is the transition month between summer and winter. At the start of the month, the “Pharos SG” visited and brought us 2 new staff; Jenn Lawson who is forming part of the winter team as the albatross assistant, and Chris Hill, who is working on the communications system. They quickly settled into life on base.

Work-wise, everyone has been very busy. March is the month when the wandering albatross chicks hatch, which kept myself and Jenn busy, checking eggs daily to obtain hatch dates. The smaller albatross chicks (the black-brows, grey-heads and light-mantled sooties) are getting much bigger and we have all been busy ringing the chicks so we can identify who they are when they return to the colonies to breed in a few years time. It will be a while yet before they are big enough to fledge.

Light-mantled sooty albatross chick. Photo Stacey Adlard
Light-mantled sooty albatross chick. Photo Stacey Adlard

March is also when the giant petrel chicks start to fledge so Ruth was out and about ringing her chicks and checking nests to obtain fledging dates. She is also in charge of the penguin work, and has been busy deploying GLS trackers on the macaroni penguins, to give us more of an insight into where they go to during the winter. The penguins are all in their colonies during March after a successful breeding season, moulting their old feathers and replacing them with new ones to keep them in good shape to survive the winter.

Mick, the seal assistant has been busy too. The fur seal pups have nearly all finished moulting out of their black puppy fur into their smooth silver swimming fur. At the start of the month we did the usual puppy weighing session, and it was pleasing to see how fat some of them were. It will not be long before they take to the sea and leave the island. Mick has been attaching GLS trackers to their flipper tags, which can be retrieved when they return in future years, to help us understand where they go in their early years.

Fat and healthy fur seal pup with its mum. Photo Stacey Adlard
Fat and healthy fur seal pup with its mum. Photo Stacey Adlard

Base Commander Ags conducted some science of her own during March in the form of some air sampling for staff who were unable to visit Bird Island themselves. This involved lots of walking up and down the hills with a big box and a long pole taking CO2 and moisture readings at various intervals. She also organised an Oil Spill exercise and a Search and Rescue exercise, as training for the winterers, so they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Ags and Stacey air sampling. Photo Mick Mackey
Ags and Stacey air sampling. Photo Mick Mackey

Towards the end of March, we started preparing the base for the last ship call of the season on March 27th. This involved sorting out all of the kit, waste and possessions that need to be sent out when the ship arrives, and organising all the paperwork that accompanies it. This included me having to pack up all my worldly possessions into boxes, ready to go home, which was rather sad. Despite all these preparations, we all managed to find the time on the last day for a final grand trip out, when all on base climbed La Roche, our highest peak. It made a lovely end to a lovely summer, and for Stacey, a fitting finale to a great two and a half years on this special little island.

A final day out for all on base. Photo Stacey Adlard
A final day out for all on base. Photo Stacey Adlard

April: There are now just the four winterers to enjoy the peace and quiet that is a Bird Island winter. We all turned out on April 1st to conduct the annual wandering albatross chick census. The aim is to provide information on the number of wanderers breeding on Bird Island, and their breeding success. This can be compared with previous counts to assess population trends. Six hundred and sixty six chicks were recorded on this survey, which is more than the same time last year, but the overall trend is for decreasing numbers unfortunately. The nests will be re-surveyed on the 1st of every month throughout the winter, until September, to monitor their breeding success. Eggs hatched during March, and by the start of April there were already a few chicks being left unguarded on their nests. They look far too small and vulnerable to be left out alone but they soon fatten and look perfectly at home despite some terrible weather.

Most of the Wanderer chicks are left unguarded on their nests now, but a few are still safely tucked under a parent. Photo Jenn Lawson
Most of the Wanderer chicks are left unguarded on their nests now, but a few are still safely tucked under a parent. Photo Jenn Lawson

There has been lots of surveying all over the island this month as we also did the annual census for the black-browed albatross chicks before they fledge and go to sea for a few years.

Ruth and Mick were both busy finishing the last of the summer field-work before the summer breeders left. The fur seals have been gradually leaving us throughout the month and the beaches that were full of mothers and pups at the start of the month are now almost empty. While the macaroni penguins finished their moult and all left en-masse with their usual promptness between the 20th and 22nd, leaving the once noisy colonies empty and deserted.

Paul (our wintering techie) has also been busy preparing the base for the coming winter. He took advantage of a spell of bad weather (and plentiful water supply!) to clean out our water tanks. We normally collect rainwater to supply all the water needs for base but sometimes (if we get a dry spell...) we have to collect it from a nearby stream.

April is another month of transition here and that has certainly been reflected in the weather we’ve had - strong wind, beautiful sunshine, snow and ice and torrential rain. A week of bad weather with a few days of very heavy rain resulted in a landslip on one of the steep slopes across the other side of the bay from base. Lawson’s Scar, as it has been christened, may even be visible on the webcam between the two peaks – if you can catch the webcam during a sunny spell.

Perhaps May will bring us better weather......?

Lawson’s Scar above Evermann Cove. Photo Jenn Lawson
Lawson’s Scar above Evermann Cove. Photo Jenn Lawson

Images Portray Island's Grandeur

Commissioner Nigel Haywood and photographer Adam Howe at the exhibition. Photo © J. Brock (FINN)
Commissioner Nigel Haywood and photographer Adam Howe at the exhibition. Photo © J. Brock (FINN)

An exhibition, 'Familiarity in a Foreign Landscape', of South Georgia images by photographer and Shackleton Scholar Adam Howe was held in Stanley, Falkland Islands. Local media there described the exhibition as “outstanding”.

An evening opening on April 12th of the five-day exhibition was well attended with approximately 75 people visiting the venue at 'Studio 52'.

The photos were taken in and around Grytviken and King Edward Point, as well as along South Georgia’s coastline. They were enlarged and displayed without frames.

Adam Howe took his inspiration for the project from the South Georgia photographs of Falkland Islanders Hamish Jennings and the late Bill Richards. “I sought to capture the grandeur of the landscape whilst illuminating the rich historical background of the Island itself.” Adam said, “I began to identify familiar horizon lines of the mountains, surroundings, clouds, star constellations, etc.”

The project was supported by a £500 grant from the Shackleton Scholarship Fund. Adam has now returned to the UK to graduate from university. He plans to make photography his livelihood and hopes to get back to South Georgia in the future.

Info: FINN

South Georgia Snippets

The science base at KEP when it was newly built, the old base, Shackleton House, in the background (now demolished).
The science base at KEP when it was newly built, the old base, Shackleton House, in the background (now demolished).

The science station at King Edward Point is now ten years old; it was officially opened in March 2001.

A set of South Georgia stamps to commemorated the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton on April 29th is being prepared. The stamps and sheetlet will portray the couple during their courtship, engagement and on their wedding day and will be released as soon as possible after royal approval of the issue, printing, delivery and processing can be achieved.

A time-lapse movie of the final call of the season by the BAS ship “RRS Shackleton” in late March is well worth watching. Taken over two days by mechanic Matthew Holmes, this beautiful footage shows the busy action whilst cargo is loaded, including the huge Volvo digger, and, after all the hard work was done, some fun with a BBQ at the boat shed. The 4.5 minute video is well worth watching to the end to see the ship pull away from the dock at midnight with flares let off to wish them bon-voyage.

Our boys ran very successfully in the London Marathon on April 17th. Senior Executive Officer Martin Collins did extremely well, not only coming in in the first one thousand competitors in just three hours and nine minutes, but also raising nearly £1000 through his effort for Oxfam. “Oxfam do fantastic work throughout the world, particularly in response to natural disasters such as famine and the recent earthquakes in Japan & New Zealand.” he said.

Richard Inman's (ex KEP Electrician) promise as a runner was spotted by regular marathon runner and Museum Handyman Hugh Marsden when the two used to train together on the Island. Hugh encouraged Richy to apply for the London Marathon and was amazed when he was lucky enough to get a place on first application. Richy completed the course in 3 hours thirty one minutes. After the race the SG runners were congratulated by supporters: Hugh, ex KEP biologist Jon Ashburner and ex Museum artist-in-residence Bridget Steed.

The fitness competition 'Race to Antarctica' started once again on April 12th, and the South Georgia team is well ahead of the many other teams. This year South Georgia has only entered one team in the competition in which various exercises, such as rowing and cycling on exercise machines and running, skiing, and break dancing are accorded virtual miles along a course to the South Pole. The competition is organised from Cambridge and is open to BAS staff there and all the BAS bases. As several of the KEPers are coming and going on fishing boats, navy ships etc, the South Georgia team has had to arrange to have four regular team members (Les, Martin, Ashley and Sam), with two more people (either Rob, Sue, Katie, Tommy or Alastair) rotating in as available. The race will finish either on midwinter day or when the 6000km course is completed so machines are whirring in the gym, and feet pounding on the treadmill whilst DVDs and books are deployed to relieve the boredom of long spells on the exercise machines. Reading on the treadmill caused one competitor to feel seasick until she got used to it and another has worked out she can cycle 20km during one programme of the series “World at War”!

The South Georgia team is obviously very competitive, they were 800km ahead of any other team at the end of the month.

KEPers greeted early snow in April with enthusiasm, rushing out with skis and snowboards to get in some winter sport, but, with only a few inches of snow on bare ground and a quick thaw, little actual skiing/boarding was done. We hope for more snow soon.

Rob and Tommy made the best of the early snow. Photo Samantha Crimmin.
Rob and Tommy made the best of the early snow. Photo Samantha Crimmin.

Dates For Your Diary

'From Prey To Protection': Artefacts from the South Georgia Museum are currently on display at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum in Long Island, New York, USA. The artefacts are on loan as part of an exhibition entitled 'From Prey to Protection'. The exhibition, which runs until September 2011, draws on a range of artefacts, historic film and audio and a variety of graphics to explore the recent history of whaling and looks into some of the events which helped to bring about the turnabout in public attitude to whaling that helped bring it to almost a complete halt.

The artefacts on loan include a whale mark from the 'Discovery Investigations'. Whale marks were used to study the migration of whales. They were fired into living whales in the hope that they would be recovered later when the whales were harpooned. Of the 5,350 whales marked between 1926 and 1939, fewer than 400 marks were recovered, however this was enough to give valuable information. Other artefacts include a logbook, recording cargoes of whale oil, that was used by C. A. Larsen who established Grytviken whaling station in 1904.

Further information can be found here.

Info SG Museum website:

'Polar Ark', Photography Exhibition Of Wildlife Photography from South Georgia: The photographic exhibition 'Polar Ark' features photographs by Katherine Snell taken in South Georgia and the the South Atlantic.

Katherine Snell described her six week visit to South Georgia as: “awe inspiring...Light snowflakes settled even on the surface of the water while ghostly white mountains reared up ahead. Clean black leads opened up revealing brilliant green flashes, a constellation of phosphorescence penetrating the inky was nothing less than magical.”

She was accompanying a BBC film crew, on the yacht “Golden Fleece”, while they filmed penguins, albatross and seals for the forthcoming series ‘Frozen Planet’, and had the opportunity to view “the diverse and fascinating life of the Island” through her own lens. The resulting work is shown in the exhibition 'Polar Ark' which is now on display at Discovery Point, Dundee until July 21st 2011. Limited edition prints will be on sale to raise funds for the SGHT. Admission is free.

More information here.

'Deep South' Exhibition: The 'Deep South' art exhibition, which features work by artists with Antarctic connections is moving to its next London venue at The Stables Gallery, Orleans House, Twickenham, UK from May 12th to July 3rd 2011.

You can find out more about this exhibition here.

'Managing Industrial Heritage: South Georgia in Context' 7-9 September 2011, Verdant Works and Discovery Point, Dundee, Scotland: A two-day conference to be held in association with The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCHI) and the South Georgia Association (SGA), with generous support from Institut Minos and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

You can find out more on the South Georgia Heritage Trust website here.

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