Lurcock says weatherwise, they have had a couple of snowy
spells with up to a foot on the ground at sea level so far.
It has melted again since but can still be seen on the far
hills. Tim and Pauline Carr, the Museum Curators reported
some nice snow had arrived and they were able to ski from
the front door a few weeks ago. The Col up by Mount Hodges
is nice now, especially with their new Gucci skis! The British
Antarctic Survey staff at King Edward Point report there
is a chill in the air so winter is definitely on its way.
British Antarctic Survey
King Edward Point (Click
to see the Station Diary)
The New Applied Fisheries Science Research Station at King Edward
Point that opened on 22 March 2001 to assist the Government
of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands with its policies
to achieve a sustainable management of the commercial fishery.
'Fishing activity around South Georgia is regulated by internationally
adopted measures agreed by the Commission for the Conservation
of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). In contrast to
other multilateral fisheries conventions, CCAMLR is concerned
not only with the regulation of fishing, but also has a mandate
to conserve the ecosystem. This ecosystem approach, which considers
the whole Southern Ocean to be a suite of interlinked systems,
distinguishes CCAMLR from other multilateral fisheries conventions.
BAS scientists at King Edward Point are carrying out strategic
research on many aspects of the biology and ecology of both
the targeted resource species as well as dependent and by-catch
species. This work will assist with the stock assessments and
population modeling of target species currently conducted for
the GSGSSI by the Marine Resources Assessment Group Ltd (MRAG),
London and complement existing research conducted by BAS biologists
in the Southern Ocean." (BAS Web Site)
The latest news from the station is the team caught a Patagonian
Toothfish in the shallow waters Cumberland East Bay (200m).
The wee fish was just over one metre in length, almost bigger
than the scientist who caught it! They reported post scientific
analysis its fillets were delicious. The taste was enhanced
by the knowledge that they did not have to pay the shop price
of £18 per Kilo (hence the nick name for this fish as
being "White Gold").
Bird Island Station - Disastrous for
to see the Station Diary)
"Bird Island lies off the north-west tip of South Georgia.
The island's northern coast consists mainly of sheer cliffs
rising to 365 metres; the southern coast is more accessible
with numerous beaches. The island is 5 km long, up to 800 m
wide. Below 150 metres it is predominately covered in tussock
grass with rock, scree and mosses above this altitude. There
is no permanent snow or ice on the island; the yearly temperature
range is from -10°C to 10°C.
Bird Island has a rich diversity of wildlife and is afforded
special protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It is home to about 50,000 breeding pairs of penguins, 30,000
pairs of albatrosses, 700,000 nocturnal petrels and 65,000 breeding
fur seals. In total, that amounts to one bird or seal for every
1.5 m 2 making Bird Island one of the richest sites for wildlife
anywhere in the world.
The main research programmes on Bird Island concern seabird
and seal population dynamics, feeding ecology and reproductive
performance. Long-term monitoring studies contribute to international
environmental conservation objectives, including under the CCAMLR
Ecosystem Monitoring Programme." (BAS web Site)
The Scientists report they have had a busy season. Some early
heavy snowfalls together with strong winds have been catastrophic
for a third of the Wandering Albatross population on a site
called Top Meadows. Out of 123 nests 40 nests had failed in
the first few weeks after hatching. It is fingers crossed for
the remainder during their long breeding season.
Female fur seals are well known for the ferocity, indeed the
author was pinned against the research hut in Husvik by a aggressive
female and was rescued by 3 large Royal Marine Commandos this
summer. Well on bird island this year a fur seal called Wendy
by the scientists, from a science fiction book at the station,
developed a very strange habit of seeking human company. During
the programme to weigh seal pups she followed the scientist
home to their station at the back of the beach. She stayed for
a week and eagerly waited for a stroke, if she did not get enough
attention she chased the scientists to the door and gently tugged
their trousers to ask for a cuddle. After day seven she went
off to sea for 10 days to feed and now she is back for lots
Wonderful news off the North Cliffs the scientists have seen
numerous whales. They report they saw a group of Killer whales
in the evening off Willis Island. As the sun set they saw through
binoculars unidentified baleen whales in the distance. They
saw numerous blows of distant whales that looked a bit like
fireworks in the evening light as the sun sank below the southern
ocean. They walked back to their base under snow.
RRS Ernest Shackleton finally left South Georgia last week
after spending a week waiting for conditions to die down so
that they could get workboats to Bird Island. She also took
off scientists returning home after the summer season and some
||There is a Japanese crab fisher
in the region that has been catching up to a ton of crab
a day in pots on the seabed. Pat said this week (29 April)
15 Longliners join the fishery, targeting Patagonian Toothfish.
He says he hopes to repeat last year's success in reducing
bird mortalities to near-zero by insisting on full implementation
of the CCLMLR Conservation Measures aimed at mitigating
Around 20 vessels registered in a number of countries including
the UK (Falkland Islands), Chile, Uruguay, Spain and South Africa
are licensed each year by GSGSSI to fish within South Georgia's
200 nautical mile Maritime Zone. Currently three species are
exploited commercially from the cold rich waters around South
Georgia. A longline fishery for the Patagonian toothfish ( Dissostichus
eliginoides ) takes place during the austral winter with catches
of the Mackerel icefish ( Chamsocephalus gunnari ) taken by
pelagic trawlers during the austral summer. Antarctic krill
( Euphausia superba ) are fished during the winter months as
fishing grounds further south towards the Antarctic continent
become icebound. Exploratory fisheries for both stone crabs
( Paralomis spp. ) and squid ( Martialia hyadesi ) have recently
taken place within the South Georgia Maritime Zone and it is
thought that unexploited stocks of these species have the potential
to support new commercial fisheries.
Six baiters broadcast poison by hand
and oil-soaked pine-wood "gnaw sticks" were positioned
to monitor the presence of rats after baiting. Pre and post baiting
surveys of abundance and distribution of the island's bird population
were done to check if any birds had died from eating the rat poison.
Results of monitoring 3 weeks and 3 months after baiting show
there was no measurable impact on the bird population and no evidence
of rat activity. Research continues into the feasibility of a
rat eradication programme in more extensive mainland areas.
rats introduced to South Georgia by sealers some 200 years
ago have devastated the numbers of burrowing petrel colonies
and the endemic South Georgia Pippit in about two thirds
of the island' coastline tussac fringe and many offshore
islets. Sally Poncet is leading a study to eradicate the
blighters. Last year experts from New Zealand's Department
of Conservation started a two year research programme. A
small baiting trial commenced in November 2000 on Grass
island in Stromness Bay.