Spring in South
South Georgia has received a slow start to
its summer this year as the winter cold was around until nearly
mid December. Summer's late start meant burrowing petrels could
have had a challenging start to the breeding season on the outlying
islands, as the entrances to many of their burrows remained iced
up under tussock clumps for longer than usual.Fur seals have coped
well and their numbers appear to support the trend of an increasing
population in the King Edward Cove area. As ever the elephant
seal pups adorn the beaches with their smiling faces and loud
burps and snorts. Skiing enthusiasts at KEP and Grytviken enjoyed
some late spring snow and excellent skiing in the wee hours of
the early morning.
South Georgia Web
The Project Atlantis team this year has captured imagery in a
large number of the bays visited by the cruise vessels. The idea
is to develop the explore section of the web site so that web
site visitors can view 360 degree visual panoramas of the more
popular areas to visit.
Dias & Albatross
The two sunken wrecks of Albatross and Dias appear to continue
to leak out thick oil from their ruptured fuel tanks. Some penguins
and seals on the beaches of Grytviken have suffered. OSRL (Oil
Spill Response Ltd) that pumped fuel oil from the wreck of Petrel
were unsuccessful earlier this year in their attempt to clean
out Albatross and Dias.
Christmas at Grytviken
||HMS ENDURANCE was able to remain in
King Edward Point (KEP) for Christmas this year at the end
of her work period in South Georgia. This was the first time
in four years the ship has been able to stay over Christmas
Despite being in the Antarctic Isle's summer,
it snowed to give the Cove a white Christmas. A midnight mass
and a Christmas morning carol service was celebrated in the beautifully
decorated Grytviken Church. The ladies of the Cove had spent much
time and effort decorating the Church and filling every window
ledge with candles. Many of the RN surveyors from HMS ENDURANCE
attended the service in their number one uniforms. A Boxing Day
football match between the ship and those on shore took place
on the whaler's pitch. The final score was 4 goals to 2 goals
to the ship. The ship's company much enjoyed walks ashore and
indeed the hospitality of those living on the island. The Cruise
vessel Explorer visited on Christmas Eve and also held a service
in the Grytviken Church.
This year HMS ENDURANCE completed successful surveys in Drygakski
Fjord and off Cooper Island. The inshore survey of the Fjord proved
to be a tough nut to crack. Fierce winds, low temperatures, choppy
seas and faulty equipment provided a number of challenges to be
overcome. Perseverance and determination eventually won through
and the surveys were completed just prior to returning to KEP.
The ships flight were busy supporting the surveyors, flying vertical
photography tasks for the Hydrographic Office in Taunton and supporting
British Antarctic Survey and the Project Atlantis Team.
of South Georgia
is carrying back to Porstmouth a large sheet of metal (3.5
m by 1.75 m) from Gytviken Whaling Station for the Norway's
Friends of South Georgia. The metal is to be used to form
a memorial to all those Norwegians who lost their lives while
whaling from South Georgia. The memorial with the names of
those who lost their lives engraved on the metal is due to
be erected in Sanderfjord in 2004. This is the 100 years anniversary
of the start of whaling from South Georgia.
Six expeditions have visited or are planning to visit South Georgia
this austral summer:
· Dave Hann with Quark Expedition
led a group of clients successfully over the Shackleton Crossing
in the period 7 to 14 November. Apparently the weather was superb,
but the Ozone hole was open and many suffered severe sunburn.
· A Norwegian Team under the leadership of Ulf Prytz completed
the Shackleton crossing during the period 21 November and 1 December
from the Yacht Golden Fleece.
· Greg Mortimer with Aurora Expeditions failed in their
bid to complete the Shackleton crossing from 28 November to 3
December due to poor weather and client fatigue. He is due to
return during the period 8 to 13 March 2003 with a second group
to attempt the crossing.
· The Royal Scottish Geographical Society is to undertake
a 6-week scientific expedition to South Georgia between late-December
2002 and early February 2003. The expedition is in celebration
of the centenary of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition
(Bruce 1902-04). The scientific research objectives are to identify
the environmental history of the island since the Last Glacial
Maximum, around 20,000 years ago, and to analyse this history
in the wider global context of environmental changes in Antarctica
and southern South America. The team will comprise a total of
12/13 people: 9 scientists, the skipper and 2 crew members of
the expedition yacht. The area of operation extends from the Bay
of Isles to Royal Bay on the north coast of the island.
· Alun Hubbard, from his Yacht Gambo plans to attempt a
series of ascents in the Allardyce and Salvesen ranges from 24
February to 25 March. Peaks under consideration in the Allardyce
range include Paget, Roots, Marikoppa and Paulsen. In the Salvesen
range Sabatier, Sederens and Normann area is to be considered.
There is a scientific component to quantify the short-term response
of the Nordenskold glacier to climate change.
· Chris Tiso in the Yacht Pelagic plans to sail around
South Georgia and to conduct some walking, skiing, climbing and
diving in various areas from 15 March to 6 April.