South Georgia , South Atlantic, a very remote British sub-Antarctic island, 170km long and 40km wide.
Discovered in 1675 by London-born merchant Antoine de la Roche while sailing from Lima to England. Captain James Cook made the first landing on January 17, 1775. It was the most important center for the Southern Atlantic whaling industry from 1904 until 1966. The settlement of Grytviken was founded by the Norwegian Captain Carl Anton Larsen. In its heyday around 300 men worked in the station during the summer months (Oct.-Mar.) .
It is also the site from where the heroic Irish polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left on his fateful Endurance expedition, and where he returned in the 6,5m lifeboat James Caird to fetch help for the rescue of his 22 expedition crew members stranded on Elephant Island, 800 miles away. Shackleton died here on his ship in the bay in 1922 and is buried in the lonely cemetery, alongside some Norwegian whalers (who died in a 1912 typhus epidemic) and an Argentine soldier -victim of the Falklands War.
The approach of South Georgia
The old whalers’ settlement Grytviken, founded by the Norwegian Captain Carl Anton Larsen in 1904. As many as 300 worked here in the industry’s heyday
British Antarctic Survey base buildings at Grytviken
Rusting whale processing equipment on the beach of Grytviken
Rusting whaler Petrel on Grytviken beach
The whalers church, Grytviken. Here Shackleton’s funeral ceremony took place on 5 March 1922, before he was buried in the local cemetery. Shackleton suffered a heart attack on board an old sealer, Quest, a vessel on which he planned his third Antarctic expedition, the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica. At first his body was taken to Montevideo where it was learned that Lady Shackleton wished that her husband be buried in South Georgia.
Shackleton’s tomb in the Grytviken cemetery. The granite headstone was made in Edinburgh. It was unveiled by the Governor of the Falkland Islands in the presence of whalers and the crew of R.R.S. William Scoresby, in 1928.
Communal house and dormitory of the whaling station.
Movies were one of the (very) few entertainments.
King penguin colony, Gold Harbour, S.E. coast of South Georgia. The relatively small island boasts some 160 glaciers.
King penguin colony, Bay of Isles, South Georgia.
Baby fur seal on Right Whale Bay, north west coast, South Georgia.
On the beach of King Edward Bay, Grytviken Whaling Station.
Seals copulating on the beach of Right Whale Bay
Salisbury Plain, S. Georgia
The James Caird approaching South Georgia. The trip from South Georgia to Elephant Island took the MS Hanseatic some 48 hours: in 1916 the journey in the opposite direction took a totally exhausted Shackleton and his 4 companions 17 days of harrowing sailing in this 6,5m lifeboat, in winterly gale conditions (incl. a huge tsunami wave!). It is rightly considered to be one of the most courageous survival stories in the history of exploration and navigation. (Photo taken at Dulwich College, London).
The James Caird is proudly exhibited at Dulwich College, south of London, where Shackleton went to school.
Commemoration plaque at Dulwich College, London
Falklands War: The Argentine surrender to the British in South Georgia (1982), Grytviken museum. South Georgia was from March 23 until 26 April 1982 a lesser known theater of the Falklands War: the painful, humiliating Argentine surrender to British Royal Navy officers took place aboard the HMS Endurance in Grytviken Bay.
Falklands War: Surrender document signed and annotated by the Argentine commander (Grytviken Museum).