South Georgia Newsletter, September 2012

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

Who Visits, How Many?

A small increase in cruise ship visitors to South Georgia compared to the previous season bucks the trend of the Antarctic region. In the 2011/12 season tourists to the Antarctic fell by 22%, whereas in South Georgia they increased 8%.

An estimated total of 10,000 people visited South Georgia during last season, a figure that includes 5,831 passengers and 578 staff from cruise ships, and 101 people on yachts. The others would have included crew from the cruise ships, people travelling on military and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and those working and travelling on research ships and the Fishery Patrol ship.

A total of 51 cruise ship visits were made, five more than the season before, and passenger numbers were up a few hundred on the previous season. This is the first upturn since cruise ship visitor numbers started declining in 2008/9. Cruise ship visitors are still well down on the 2007/8 and 2008/9 seasons when around 8000 visitors arrived that way. There is a similar pattern in the Antarctic region with last season being the fourth consecutive year in which Antarctic tourism has declined, but the region is expecting an upturn in the season ahead.

More people from the USA visit South Georgia on cruise ships than any other nationality (25%) closely followed by Germans (22%), and 49% of the cruise ship visitors are from English speaking countries. People from 50 different countries came, though 22 of those had less than ten of that nationality visit in the year. Although still only around 1- 2% of cruise ship passengers, there is a developing trend for more visitors to come from China and a possibility of an all-Chinese charter on one of the larger vessels in the coming season.

Most cruise ships are about the size of this one which carries around 150 passengers; seen in King Edward Cove past the old whale catcher Petrel.
Most cruise ships are about the size of this one which carries around 150 passengers; seen in King Edward Cove past the old whale catcher Petrel.

Most cruise ships visiting South Georgia (72%) bring between 50 and 150 passengers, and most ships visit two sites around the Island each day. The smaller ships tend to stay longer at South Georgia than the larger ones.

There were very few yacht visits in the 2011/12 season. Seven yacht visits were made by five different yachts, all but one on charter. Six military or RFA vessels visited, and six visits were made by research vessels.

The season ahead (2012/13) looks broadly similar to the last for cruise ships, with 51 visits currently booked with a capacity for 6,330 passengers - which should translate to around 5,500 visitors for the season depending on occupancy. It is an early start to the new season as the 85-passenger vessel Ushuaia is due to visit Grytviken on October 13th, with three other cruise vessels due before the end of the month. There will be a lot more yachts than last season though, with 14 visits on the schedule and others known to be planning a visit.

Marine Protected Area; More Protection Coming

GSGSSI announced a vast Marine Protected Areas around the Island in February and it is likely there is more protection to come. The creation of the MPA established in law much of the protection that was already in place through fisheries licensing policies, now the Government are looking at further spatial and temporal protection. They held a science workshop in Cambridge, UK, in April to discuss possible further measures. The workshop coincided with the completion of two major scientific projects, funded by the Darwin Initiative and Overseas Territories Environment Programme, which investigated marine biodiversity (Darwin) and the development of Marine Protected Areas generally (OTEP). The workshop was attended by approximately 30 scientists from a variety of organisations. They included individuals with expertise in benthic fauna, nekton, plankton, oceanography, air breathing predators, and general marine ecology, and in the fisheries of the Scotia Sea. The outcome from that meeting was a set of proposals which GSGSSI are now considering. These are set out in the document “SGSSI MPA Consultation Oct 2012.pdf” which is available from this website (see below).

GSGSSI has prioritised proposals for spatial or temporal closures where: they will protect unique, rare, or high biodiversity areas; protect vulnerable or sensitive areas; maintain critical aspects of ecosystem function, e.g. highly productive areas; support fisheries management, e.g. create closed areas for critical life-history stages; protect multiple-use areas to coordinate activities and minimise cumulative impacts; maintain the integrity of representative examples of marine ecosystems; increase resilience to climate change or other environmental changes; and protect reference sites for scientific research.

Some of the proposals would affect the krill fishery and include summer closure of the fishery and closure of specific areas to krill fishing.

Though bottom trawling is not allowed in South Georgia waters (other than for science) there are proposals to further protect bottom living benthos including having some areas closed to longlining.

GSGSSI are now in a public consultation phase and would welcome comments from stakeholders by November 2nd.

You can download two documents - a Consultation Document and the cover letter here.

Krill and Marathons - GSGSSI Visit To Norway

A three person GSGSSI team was in Norway for various meetings in September. Commissioner Nigel Haywood, Chief Executive Officer Martin Collins and Environment Office Jen Lee met with the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) to continue planning for the reindeer eradication project. A team of Norwegians will arrive in South Georgia to start the eradication at New Year and will base themselves in the Stromness area to remove the herd that ranges between the Fortuna to the Neumayer glaciers.

The Commissioner and Martin Collins also met with Aker Biomarine to discuss the krill fishery and Marine Proteceted Areas. Aker Biomarine are an integrated biotechnology company that makes krill oil tablets for the health-food market. Another meeting was in Sandefjord with members of Øyas Venner, a Norwegian ex-Whalers and historical society, and with industrial archaeologist Bjorn Basberg and others. Whilst in Sandefjord they visited the Whaling Museum and had a tour of the restored whale catcher Southern Actor.

During the GSGSSI visit to Norway’s capital, Oslo, the British Ambassador, Jane Owe, hosted a dinner at the British Embassy at which guests included Kit Kovacs (Norsk Polar Institute), Kjell Tokstad (Øyas Venner), Sigve Nordrum (Aker Biomarine), and Reidar Andersen and Carl Erik Kilander (SNO).

But the trip was not all work and the Commissioner and Martin Collins found time in a busy schedule to take part in the Oslo marathon.

The Commissioner Nigel Haywood by the harpoon gun with members of Øyas Venner on the catcher Southern Actor
The Commissioner Nigel Haywood by the harpoon gun with members of Øyas Venner on the catcher Southern Actor

The Commissioner and Martin Collins took part in the Oslo marathon.
The Commissioner and Martin Collins took part in the Oslo marathon.

Fishing And Shipping News

A krill trawler approaches a reefer prior to transhipping in Cumberland Bay.
A krill trawler approaches a reefer prior to transhipping in Cumberland Bay.

Fishing activity in the SG Fishing Zone has tailed off as the month progressed. September started with three trawlers fishing for krill to the north of the Island. Catches remained good to start, as they have been for the whole of the krill fishing period, but were getting patchier by the second week, though they picked up again later in the month. One of the vessels finished fishing on the 13th and another on the 18th, leaving just one trawler fishing through to the end of the month.

Two different reefers made five port calls to Cumberland Bay throughout the month and there were five visits from trawlers to perform transhipments with them.

Preparing For The Aerial Assault

The two SGHT helicopters in the workshops in the UK. Photos Police Aviation Services.
The two SGHT helicopters in the workshops in the UK. Photos Police Aviation Services.

The two helicopters that were dismantled at Grytviken late last summer, and then crammed into shipping containers to ship to the UK for servicing, are currently in the workshops at the Police Aviation Services in Staverton, UK. The two Bolköw-105 helicopters were used for aerial baiting in Phase 1 of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) Habitat Restoration project to remove introduced rodents from South Georgia. They are being brought back into flying condition by the SGHT helicopter engineers so they are ready for the start of Phase 2 in 2013, and both airframes are now almost ready to return. The helicopters will remain as entire aircraft to make the return journey south, leaving the UK next month. Logistic and operational requirements for the aerial baiting work to the north end of South Georgia require another aircraft, so they will be accompanied by a third helicopter which is currently being purchased. Four pilots and two helicopter engineers form part of the Habitat Restoration team travelling to South Georgia in February ready to start Phase 2 baiting at the beginning of March.

The most experience in the sort of flying required to aerially bait in South Georgia is found in New Zealand, so it is no surprise that of the four pilots three are Kiwis and these three will concentrate on the baiting work. Four pilots are needed to ensure that any good weather can be used for baiting without pilot fatigue, and to cover in the event of illness. The pilot team includes the very experienced Peter Garden who did the majority of the aerial baiting on Phase 1. The British pilot George Phillips completes the flying team; he will concentrate on depot-laying and transportation work. The Chief Engineer, Mark Paulin, is also a Kiwi, and the two engineers are going to be busy. The three helicopters are expected to fly at least 650 hours between them in the coming season. So in four months the aircraft will fly the equivalent of what a UK air ambulance flies in a year. The engineers will be working in the field at the forward operating bases most of the time, though the shed in the whaling station at Grytviken will be used as a helicopter workshop and garage once again.

Bird Island Gets Lots Of New Place Names

Bird Island has got a list of new place names following a recent meeting of the Antarctic Place Names Committee (which also rules on place names for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).

One of the early scientists who worked on Bird Island, Lance Tickell, is honoured with a mountain named after him. Lance Tickell assisted in some the first science on Bird Island - tagging fur seal pups in 58/59. He returned twice more before the mid 60’s working on seals and albatrosses, and was one of the first to overwinter there. Tickell Peak is the second highest peak on the island at 290m and is positioned above steep cliffs on the north coast towards the east end of the island. Many of the other new names are descriptive and have been in unofficial use by BAS staff working at Bird Island Research Station for decades. The other new names are: Cave Crag; Cloud Pond; Cobblers Mound; Crucifix Bay; Flagstone Pond; Geep Pond; Iceberg Point; Study Beach; Stinker Point; and Platform Reef.

(Info BAS)

Map showing the new place names at Bird Island. Image BAS
Map showing the new place names at Bird Island. Image BAS

The Ice Project – Search For Endurance And Feature Film

There are impressive plans to mark the centenary of Shackleton’s 1914 Endurance expedition with a search for the wreck of the Endurance on the sea floor in the Weddell Sea and a feature film based on the failed expedition, shipwreck and subsequent survival and heroic rescue the stranded men. The two projects come under the heading ‘The Ice Project’. The plans were unveiled on September 26th by Bob Chartoff and Lynn Hendee of Chartoff Productions in Los Angeles, USA.

An expedition will be launched to locate the Endurance wreck site. David Gallo, Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, is assembling a team of deep sea exploration and Antarctic logistics experts to determine the best technologies and techniques to locate and document Endurance’s final resting place on the Antarctic sea floor. The ship is reckoned to have settled at a depth of about three thousand metres below the sea (600 metres shallower than the Titanic wreck) at 68°39.5S, 52°26.5W. According to the Ice Project website modern sonar and magnetic sensors should be able to identify the ship’s exact location, but the pack ice and volatile weather will present challenges. The dive is scheduled for early 2014 during the peak of the Antarctic summer. Gallo said “Working on, through, and under the ice of the Weddell Sea, in the harsh Antarctic environment, makes planning this expedition extremely challenging and interesting from an operational point of view. We are honoured to have an opportunity to add to the story of Shackleton’s heroic adventure.”

The feature film, called simply “Ice”, is planned to be an epic action-adventure based on the Endurance expedition, including Shackleton’s remarkable rescue of his 27 men. Bob Chartoff is an industry veteran known for such iconic classics as Raging Bull, the Rocky series, and The Right Stuff. “Ice” is planned for release in 2015 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s epic adventure. Ice author/producer is Lori Nelson. She first encountered the story when she sailed a 12-metre ketch to the Antarctic, and she describes the project as one …“that has consumed me for more than 25 years”.

The Ice Project also includes plans to raise awareness of ocean and Antarctic issues. You can find out more about the Ice Project at

Wild Trip Of A Lifetime

Until last year Julie George, great niece of Frank Wild and mother of 3, from Frankston South, Victoria in Australia had not even had a passport. Then a year ago her first time outside Australia was a trip to South Georgia and Antarctica; which she described as “like learning to run before you can walk”.

(By Julie George.)

Julie first heard the name ‘Angie Butler’ back in 2007 when her English cousin, Nick, wrote and said Angie wanted some information for a book she was writing about their great uncle Frank Wild and could she help? Over the next five years, a friendship developed via emails between Angie and Julie, and with the help of oldest brother Richard Francis, they supplied Angie with facts and stories, including old family photographs. While Angie was out searching for Frank’s ashes, Julie began typing up his memoirs, later to be used as the back half of Angie’s book ‘The Quest for Frank Wild’. Amazingly, Angie located Frank’s ashes, permission was granted by the Commissioner for South Georgia, with the support of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and the South Georgia Association (SGA), to have his ashes interred next to Sir Ernest Shackleton in Grytviken ….and so this story begins.

Julie says “I was invited by ‘One Ocean Expeditions’ to join the ship Akademik Ioffe in November 2011 to accompany Great Uncle Frank’s ashes - such an honour and a chance of a life time. I had no idea how well known and admired Frank Wild was outside Australia. I convinced my husband, Steve, to accompany me, despite his proneness to sea-sickness. My two other brothers, Brian and Martin, also came with us along with Brian’s daughter Carina, and husband Ian. The six of us flew to Ushuaia to board the ship bound for Antarctica. Reverend Richard Hines joined us at Falkland Islands and plans were made for the service at the whaler’s church in Grytviken. I was very proud to be asked to look after Frank’s ashes for one last night in our cabin, and in the morning to carry this special cargo from the ship to the church, and then from the church to the cemetery along a rugged path surrounded by penguins, feisty fur seals and elephant seals. Walking the path with Rev Hines, we were both high on adrenalin as we knew we were part of making history. How often does someone have a funeral in 1939 and then, 73 years later, have their ashes interred next to their best friend and boss? A toast was made to Shackleton and Wild, which now begins a new tradition of both gravesites receiving the whisky from the toast.

Later that afternoon, we walked around the Cove from Grytviken (my new most-favourite place in the world) and found the cairn at Hope Point, built in 1922 by the crew of the Quest, who had been led on the expedition by Frank Wild after the death of Shackleton. (A secret for those visiting the cairn, there is a scroll at the back behind one of the rocks which bears the signature of all crew of the Quest.)

On returning home, being asked “how was your holiday?” was a very hard question as it was the most meaningful and emotional trip I’ve ever made…and not something that could be explained in just a few words. By the way, Steve did survive (just) but the Drake Passage ensured he will never take another sea trip again.

And we have begun another family tradition - at 3pm every Saturday you will find Julie and her mother, Joy – now 94 years young and the last “Wild Child”, toasting “Uncle Frank” with a tot of whisky, replicated from the supplies found under the floorboards in the Ross Sea Depot (laid for Shackleton and his men had the Endurance not been crushed in sea ice).

Joy doesn’t remember much about her Uncle Frank as she was only 5 when he left for South Africa to become a tobacco farmer. He came back once and she recalls they all gathered around the piano to sing songs and, with her cousins, being delighted when he taught them the words to “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor”. Frank was very fond of music and loved animals.

Another good thing to come out of this special trip is Judy, a new-found cousin (once removed). Judy’s grandmother, Sarah (known as Nancy), was the oldest sister in the Wild family - so Judy’s great uncle Laurie Wild is also Julie’s grandfather. Judy’s mother, Beatrice had come to Australia when she was only 16 and despite Laurie’s efforts to find their whereabouts after the death of his sister, Nancy, all trace had been lost. After reading the publicity about the Frank Wild interment, Judy was delighted to find she had family and got in touch. She is coming to meet us all soon, and she is also going to visit South Georgia and Antarctica this November as Angie Butler, with ‘One Ocean Expeditions’ has organised a ‘Frank Wild Commemorative Expedition’ to mark the first anniversary of the interment of his ashes at Grytviken…Judy will even be on the same ship I was.

You can find out more about the special trip here.

Joy Francis (niece) and Julie George (great niece) toasting “Uncle Frank”. When looking at Frank’s signature on the scroll, Joy declared how similar their writing was.
Joy Francis (niece) and Julie George (great niece) toasting “Uncle Frank”. When looking at Frank’s signature on the scroll, Joy declared how similar their writing was.

End Of The Mooring Line For HMS Plymouth?

According to the Wirral Globe newspaper, efforts to save HMS Plymouth may have come to an end following the withdrawal of support of the HMS Plymouth Association.

In the July edition of this newsletter we highlighted a last ditch campaign to raise funds to keep this historic vessel from going to the scrapyard. The Type 12 anti-submarine frigate was launched in 1959 and decommissioned in 1988. She was active in South Georgia and the Falklands in the 1982 war.

Now, recognising that the more than half-century old vessel needs millions spending on her to preserve her for only another ten years or so, Martin Slater, secretary of the HMS Plymouth Association, is quoted as saying “We now reluctantly conclude that the end is in sight for our ‘old ship’ and the time has come to be realistic and admit that there is nothing more which can be done to save her.”

But volunteers battling to save HMS Plymouth still claim they can save the ship in spite of the original September deadline passing for her sale to Turkish scrappers. They think they have spotted legal difficulties to the ship being moved, but still only have less than half the funds they were aiming to raise to save her.

You can read the original Wirral Globe article here.

Bird Island Diary – Gentoo Breaks The Egg Record

By Jenny James, Zoological Field Assistant (albatrosses) at the BAS Research Station at Bird Island.

Well spring seems to have officially sprung here on Bird Island. We celebrated the spring equinox on September 22nd by making cider with the remnants of our apples (I use the term ‘apple’ in the loosest sense of the word as they have now been in the store room for nearly 6 months).

With spring comes the new breeding season and already Ruth has been monitoring the progress of the northern giant petrel nests in her study area, marking all those with eggs and recording the parents ring numbers. The gentoo penguins have also begun to gather and prepare for the breeding season, building nests out of rocks and any other debris they can find (bits of seal carcass seem to be a firm favourite). Ruth is also monitoring the progress of two of the island’s gentoo colonies, recording the date of the first egg laid and counting the total number of nests when laying is complete. To our great astonishment the first egg this year was seen on 22nd September – a record early start to the gentoo breeding season, six days earlier than the previous record set in 2010!

Isabelline penguin (paler bird) with its partner on a nest of stones and bones.
Isabelline penguin (paler bird) with its partner on a nest of stones and bones.

As of September 1st I began my daily rounds of the colonies looking for mollymawks (grey-headed and black-browed albatross) returning from their winter at sea. The grey-headed albatross return to the island slightly earlier then the black-brows as their breeding season is slightly longer. Evidently the mollymawks didn’t get that memo because the first molly seen, on September 11th, was a black-brow. The next day however, to my great delight, the first grey-headed albatross pitched up. The mollymawks will not begin laying until next month.

The grey-headed albatross are now returning to their colonies.
The grey-headed albatross are now returning to their colonies.

Another huge task which was completed this month was the ringing of all the wandering albatross chicks on the island. This amounts to just shy of 600 birds covering the entire island. The wanderer chicks are now about 7 months old and still have several months before they begin to fledge. They are beginning to lose their downy white fluff and grow dark feathers in its place. They have also begun trying out their wings; stretching and flapping them, especially on windy days.

Six-month old wandering albatross chick trying out its wings.
Six-month old wandering albatross chick trying out its wings.

Leopard seal numbers seem to have dropped off, probably due to inordinately warm air temperatures in August, but there are still regular sightings. Although they don’t breed here, elephant seals occasionally come to the island for a snooze and in the past few weeks some big males have been spotted snoring and burping while they sleep.

This bull elephant seal keeps hauling out in front of base and tends to be very vocal at about 3am! Photos Jenny James.
This bull elephant seal keeps hauling out in front of base and tends to be very vocal at about 3am! Photos Jenny James.

Alps To Antarctica

By Rowan Huntley

The magnificent peaks grew smaller in the dazzling sunlight and the icy blue shadows lengthened as we steamed away from Cape Disappointment. Leaving South Georgia to fade into the Antarctic night I reflected on the incredible, all too brief time I’d spent around this awesome island. The wind grew stronger and the shipʼs movement intensified as we made for Orcadas, Laurie Island in the South Orkney Islands. This was my second time in the South Atlantic in 8 months and I knew exactly what to expect!

My first trip had been early in 2010 with the Royal Navyʼs survey ship HMS Scott, on a month long Artistʼs residency awarded by the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute. Joining ship in the Falklands I spent 4 weeks at sea off the Antarctic Peninsula, around the South Shetland Islands, Brabant Is, Anvers Is and Port Lockroy before heading back via Signy in the South Orkneyʼs. It was an amazing experience.

They do say that once youʼve been to Antarctica, you will return. If anyone had told me that whilst my dry suit and I waded chest-high through freezing waves to reach our RIB boat after a particularly difficult painting excursion to Half Moon Island, I would have laughed out loud. Yet by November, there I was again, painting in exactly the same place - minus the wading thankfully! My return south had been instigated by necessity more than anything. Anyone familiar with this part of the world will know that the words ʻatrociousʼ and ʻweatherʼ go together - for weeks on end. And early in the year that’s exactly what we had. In November however, having secured the chance to work as artist-in-residence for a trip with Oceanwide Expeditions, conditions were to prove more clement. This time I joined ship in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and after a brief stop in the Falklands we arrived at Right Whale Bay in South Georgia - to horizontal wind, pelting sleet and an all-enveloping gloom. My heart sank as memories of frustration and desperation returned. There’s nothing worse than travelling half way round the world for a brief encounter, being aware of whatʼs in front of you and not being able to see it never mind paint it. To have it happen twice was entirely possible but totally unthinkable. So it was with utter relief that the storm dissipated quickly leaving us blessed with blustery, bright sunshine and just the odd squall for four days. We were treated to the most stunning scenery, incredible clouds and amazing wildlife I have ever encountered.

Rowan painting Salisbury Plain.
Rowan painting Salisbury Plain.

With landings and painting opportunities at St Andrew’s Bay, Grytviken, Salisbury Plain, Prion Island, Gold Harbour and Cooper Bay I was able to take in the enormous array of peaks and glaciers on view. Hugely majestic Nordenskjold Peak took my breath away, as did Mount Paget and Mount Ashley further to the north. The plethora of sub peaks was no less impressive and the mighty glaciers, immense rivers of ice which poured from within their icy midst, were a sight to behold indeed. Things could have been so different and I count myself extremely fortunate to have experienced just a little of the raw beauty of South Georgia. Our trip continued south, down to the Weddell sea, through Antarctic Sound, over Bransfield Strait to the South Shetlands and on to Deception Island. It was here that our luck ran out and, as we continued down past Brabant Island and into Andvord Bay, the Antarctic gloom returned. With the exception of a glorious sunrise over the peninsula and the bright turquoise and cerulean hues of the abundant ice, my palette had returned once more to an array of colourful greys. But you know there’s nothing can lift your soul quite like a painting session in the dim, early morning Antarctic light, surrounded by ice and penguins.

Nordenskjold Peak and Mt Roots, South Georgia painting by Rowan Huntley
Nordenskjold Peak and Mt Roots, South Georgia painting by Rowan Huntley

The resulting exhibition of Rowan’s paintings is on show in the exhibition 'Alps to Antarctica' at the Alpine Club, London, UK, from October 9th until Christmas 2012.

Rowan’s passion is for painting in a representational way while at the same time seeking out and emphasising the natural rhythms and patterns that these forms create. The paintings depict magnificent peaks and tumbling glaciers including those she painted in South Georgia and Antarctica.

The exhibition is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 10am-5pm, (non-members by prior arrangement)

More information can be found at

South Georgia Snippets

SG Museum news: In the recently published Annual Report for the 2011/12 season the South Georgia Museum reports that it had a good year. There were on-going changes in the staff roles to streamline the museum operation and help keep costs down, and the curatorial internship is working very well and is giving aspiring museum professionals real work experience in a wide variety of areas of curatorship and the running of a museum.

The museum collection continues to grow, and the report has some photographs and information on some of the latest acquisitions including: two original memorial cards from the 1939 funeral of Polar Explorer Frank Wild; whalers’ craft items; a 1909 chart of South Georgia drawn for Captain CA Larsen by his secretary Hans Wold; a signature by Sir Ernest Shackleton and much more besides.

A highlight of the year was the interment of the ashes of polar explorer Frank Wild in the cemetery at Grytviken; with a coinciding display in the Museum to highlight the achievements of this remarkable man. There is also a new exhibit on Shackleton House, which used to stand on Hope Point.

The South Georgia Museum Report (2.8mb) can be downloaded from the SGHT website here.

Elephant seal bull keeps watch in the shallows.
Elephant seal bull keeps watch in the shallows.

Spring is here: A late and abundant fall of snow with a cold snap has extended the winter through September despite signs of spring all around. Elephant seals started to appear at the beginning of the month, the males first, then the first few females, and the first pups were born a couple of weeks later. The first two pups born at KEP were born within minutes of each other on September 21st. The birth of the first pup was caught on video (see below) and by the end of the month there were about five pups at KEP already.

Watch the webcams on this website to see the local harems grow in the coming weeks.

The mother and first elephant seal pup born this spring at KEP.
The mother and first elephant seal pup born this spring at KEP.

The birth of the first pup at KEP was caught on video, watch as the mother
and pup get to know each other in those first few minutes.

The gentoo penguins have also started nesting at Maiviken. This year they have chosen hillocks to the east of the valley and are constructing their nests from tussac grass instead of the moss they have used on some of their previous sites in the area. One group is on a very steep hillside and another smaller group even appears to be trying to nest on the remains of a snow avalanche.

The gentoos on the path from the landing beach to their colonies.
The gentoos on the path from the landing beach to their colonies.

Crafty success: Amidst stiffer competition and more entries than in past years, the South Georgia crafts entered into the Falkland Island Craft Fair scored well once again. Craft Fair entries were up by 140 this year, having declined in previous years. The Craft Fair took place in Stanley on September 8th and 9th. In all there were six South Georgia entries, all entered in the woodwork and metalwork classes, and between them they gathered a First, a Second, two Thirds and a Highly Commended. The First was taken by the stunning metalwork king penguin clock by Alastair Wilson.

The king penguin clock by Alastair Wilson won first prize and a Second Prize was won by Jo Cox for her framed marquetry and knot work.
The king penguin clock by Alastair Wilson won first prize and a Second Prize was won by Jo Cox for her framed marquetry and knot work.

Iceberg stuck: The vast iceberg off the mouth of Cumberland Bay has gone nowhere since we wrote about it last month. The seven-mile long triangular berg is stuck fast on the island’s shelf. This photograph of it was taken at the end of September looking out to sea from Maiviken from where it blocks the horizon entirely.

Blocking the horizon, the giant iceberg seen from Maiviken.
Blocking the horizon, the giant iceberg seen from Maiviken.

Dates for Your Diary

Art Exhibition, Edinburgh – ‘Of Natural & Mystical Things’

Ten artists have mounted an exhibition loosely based on the idea of the Wunderkammer or Kunstkammer. The artists include Bridget Steed, whose work explores the physical, philosophical and mystical nature of the world. Bridget, who has worked as artist in residence at the South Georgia Museum in 2010, finds South Georgia still features heavily in her work and is the source of her inspiration. Her work is a collaborative process, creating a dialogue between historic and scientific research and artistic output. "My work looks at a site, a specific place, uncovering its past, documenting its present, to remember and record its histories. I am interested in physical and personal landscapes, the traces and memories we leave behind".

Bridget has made a suite of prints for this exhibition and is showing them alongside a cabinet with objects on loan from some of the Salvesen ex whalers. Also in the cabinet is an ipad displaying an up-to-the-minute image of South Georgia from Webcam 1, to “give a real connection to the place.” she said.

The exhibition is on at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, Edinburgh, Scotland until November 4th. Admission is free and opening times are: Mon - Sat 10 - 5pm and Sun 12 - 5pm

More information:

Artwork by Bridget Steed.
Artwork by Bridget Steed.

Triumph Against All Odds – Shackleton Exhibition

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is hosting this travelling photographic exhibition on Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, in association with the Royal Geographical Society.

This world-class exhibition is now on show in the historic Ferry Terminal Building in Dún Laoghaire Harbour, the port of Dublin, Eire. The exhibition was originally created by the American Museum of Natural History in 2000, since then it has toured throughout the US, Spain and the UK and has been seen by over two million people. It tells in graphic details the story of the 1914–1917 Antarctic expedition, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. Also included in the exhibition is a full-size replica of the James Caird, the lifeboat that proved so critical to the rescue of Shackleton’s shipwrecked crew. Over 150 of the technically brilliant and evocative black-and-white photographs of Frank Hurley, the official photographer for the expedition, are on show, as well as extensive wall texts and diary excerpts. The exhibition will remain on show at the location for 2 years. Opening times Mon - Sat 10am - 7pm, Sun 11am - 6pm

More information:

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