-SIR ERNEST shackleton's gravesite
We awoke this morning to a much calmer sea because we were tucked safely inside the protected waters of King Edward Cove in Cumberland Bay. We had arrived at Grytviken, South Georgia and it was here that the very first whaling station opened in the Southern Ocean in 1904.
Sir Ernest Shackleton as well as many other expedition leaders and adventurers used the station to resupply for their voyages to and from the Antarctic. It is also here that Shackleton unexpectedly died of a heart attack. His gravesite can be found in the "Whaler's Cemetary" on a hillside visible from the walkway.
The orange-rust colored buildings were vibrant in the afternoon sun and we all couldn't wait to go ashore and see our first King Penguins! The "green" group would be the last group out today so Michael and I took some photos on deck, watched the King Penguins swim around the boat and relaxed in our room.
The seas were calm as we boarded our Zodiac at 2pm. We had been told in the previous evening's recap that there was a wonderful museum, gift shop and post office on the island which we could visit. Our Zodiac landed just to the left of the station buildings where we were immediately surrounded by fur seal families. There were plenty of baby seals around to entertain us but since we only had a few hours on the island and there was so much to do we began to make our way over to view the elephant seals and the King Penguins. There were elephant seals asleep in a stream that we passed and lethargic King Penguins who were molting process.
The sun was warm so it was possible that we had arrived in time for all the animal's afternoon siesta. The little cemetery was up a small hill so we wandered around up there for a while, took photos of Shackleton's grave and the surrounding landscape and then began making our way over to the old whaling station. We stopped at the small church, the museum and the gift shop. We purchased a set of 3 hand-carved wooden penguins and several post cards. The shop was a bit too hectic for my taste so I strolled around in the museum (I wish there was more time to learn about the Patagonian Toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass) and then went back outside. A large rusting whaling ship sat wrecked in the port. The Petrel was the highlight of the old whaling boats in the cove. It was, however, a bit unsettling to see the large harpoon gun mounted to the front of the ship. A good reminder of what went on before.
Important to note
If you travel so far as the Antarctic on a trip, please do all that you can to have a few stops on South Georgia. It is truly a wonder and a piece of history found no where else on earth. There is so much to enjoy from spectacular landscapes to wildlife to history - and if you're a birder, you will specifically love it with over 50 million different birds on the island!
South Georgia Rat Eradication Project
In the evening during our last recap, Robin introduced us to Sarah Lurcock, the South Georgia Heritage Trust Direction who spoke to our group at length about the Habitat Restoration Project. She discussed a problem that was currently occurring on the island with rodents eating bird's eggs in the nests that are built in the tussock grass. This makes the eggs very easily accessible to rodents. The island is governed by the British government and for the past 4 years or so an eradication of the rats has been underway. Sarah asked for a small donation from passengers so that the birds do not become endangered on the island and can continue to breed and thrive. We donated funds to have 1 hectare sprayed for rodents. We were told that altogether our ship raised $3k.
http://www.sghtonline.gs/index.php for more information.
Michael and I travel mostly because we like learning and experiencing new things, seeing new places and learning about different cultures and food that only comes from getting out and about in the world.
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