Day 8 |
Dec 02, 2011

Godthul and Grytviken, South Georgia 

By Shoshanah Jacobs – Marine Biologist and Zodiac-Driver

Position: 54°29’ S, 66°20’ W
Air temperature: 1°C, 33.8 °F
Water temperature: 1°C, 33.8 °F
Air pressure: 1001 hPa
Wind speed: gusts up to 90 km/h

Breakfast was quick. When I woke up, I looked out the window and realised that I would much rather be outside. So a leap into the Zodiac brought me to shore at Godthul. I was surprised because there were so few fur seals on the beach. In fact, this observation was noted by the rest of the staff throughout our visit to South Georgia. Perhaps, nature was controlling for herself what we have been discussing for so many years. But, so few does not mean so timid and we had our share of stressful encounters throughout the landing. The first to land were our long hikers who graced the beaches for only a few seconds before gallivanting up the tussock-covered slopes. During our morning of beach-based activities, the crimson ribbon that was their progress reminded the rest of the scale of this grand landscape. A short visit to the remnants of the whaling activities and to a rather picturesque gentoo colony left everyone satisfied.

Lunch was quick. The walkers were waiting for us on the beach after the Captain repositioned the Silver Explorer. The pick-up was challenging, to say the least, and we were all thankful for having brought extra clothing to replace those waterlogged during our Zodiac operation. The wind had picked up quite sharply and sitting on patio furniture on the back deck became a necessity rather than a luxury.

Our landing in Grytviken was almost cancelled due to strong winds and waves, but our Captain expertly manoeuvred the vessel into the inner harbour, finding sufficient shelter for our Zodiac operations. Our visit began with a quick toast by Peter Damisch, our historian. Peter had taught us so much about Ernest Shackleton and this moment was one that we have been waiting for. A short walk brought us to the whaling station and museum where we explored the remains of practices long forgotten. The wind continued and I made my way to the landing site to take over driving duties while my colleagues led a walk to King Edward Point and Shackleton's cross.

Recap & Briefing was led by the staff of the British Antarctic Survey who told us about their gallant efforts to eradicate all rats from South Georgia. This would be twice over the world's greatest effort to eliminate an invasive species from an isolated island. My friends and I decided to pitch in and sponsor an hectare of rat-free South-Atlantic paradise.

Dinner was quick. Sleep came faster. And I can't wait for tomorrow.