Wednesday 7 January 2015

January 7 - Grytviken

After yesterday's abortive attempt to do a zodiac tour we headed into Grytviken, a deep fiord about half way up the east side of South Georgia. It was a beautiful location with high snowy peaks behind the bedded, and folded cliffs of sedimentary rocks that make up the near walls of the fjord. The location was the site of a Norwegian whaling stations dating from the 1800's, but it became a major commercial operation just before world war I. The reason was the need for whale oil for the war effort. It ceased operation in 1965 and has since fallen into disrepair. There is a British Antarctic Survey Base close by and this was the point that was taken by the Argentinians in the Falklands war.  Since that time the British government has invested significant funds to clean up the old whaling station and establish a museum and gift shop in some of the rehabilitated buildings. It is now a very picturesque spot with lots of elephant and fur seals along the beaches along with King penguins. This is also the site of Shackleton's grave.

I spent the morning fighting with the fur seal harem beach masters  - who were aggressive towards other fur seals as well as humans. I soon learned how stop the charges, but they are a bit intimating.  There as small 2 - 4 week old pups, and the beach masters keep their "own" small group of pups in control in order to breed with the females when they return to nurse the pups. The pups are so cute, but often get squashed by the overly aggressive males as they protect their piece of beach and pups from other seals. Chasing tourists seems to be one of the things they enjoy. However, the much larger elephant seals just loll around the beach and don't seem to care about people at all.  There were groups of molting King penguins as well, just to add some colour to the mix.  The seals sound a bit like dogs, and the pups make whining noises very much like puppies. And they are VERY cute.

Shackelton's grave.

Beautifully folded schists above the station.

Very cute baby fur seal - a couple of weeks old.

Dad - mean and aggressive!

Some more very cute baby seals!

Part of the old whaling station.

A pile of juvenile elephant seals.

A few king penguins standing around. 

Sleeping elephant seal.

Maria and I thought these whalers bunk beds were very much like our own!

The barrel at the top of the mast was where a lookout was posted to spot whale blows.

The Quest as seen through parts of the old whaling station. 

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