Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Traces.... the whaling station at Deception Island

The first people to come to Antarctica were not the explorers, but sealers and whalers. People like Shackleton and Charcot were dependant on their advice and help. They also were provided coal and supplies at their stations.

One of the stations was at Deception Island. The remainders are still there.

The whalers almost succeeded to extinct part of the whale population. Species like the southern right whale were easy to hunt. They stay on the surface for a long time, do not flee and, after being killed, float conveniently on the surface until being dismantled.

In 1912/13, 12 floating factory ships, 27 catcher boats and one shore based factory operated in the whaling station at Foster's port in the crater of Deception Island and processed 5000 whales in one season
Charcot left a comment in 1908: "We find two three masters and two steam vessels, surrounded by several little steam catchers, this fleet belonging to three different companies. Pieces of whale float about on all sides, and bodies in the process of being cut up or waiting for their turn alongside the various boats. The smell was unbearable"

The station also boiled the reaminders of the whale to extract the last drop of oil. In the tanks, whale oil and fuel were stored.

Lowell Thomas writes in his Biography of Hubert Wilkins: "New Years eve was celebrated with games, eating, drinking and - a lot of gunfire. Two drunk whalers climbed atop a pair of sperm whales on the flensing plan awaiting processing. The whales had been cooking themselves from the heat of the blood inside their bodies and were swollen with gas...

One whaler thrust his long knife inside this veritale whale balloon. It promptly exploded, hurling both men into the harbor, where they had to be rescued by some of the view sober observers."

After 1941, Britain, Chile and Argentina started a fight over Deception Island. The Island chaged sides several times until the Brits finally built Base B in 1943

After the war, British Marines were stationed here, and as an response, the Argentinean President visited.

Today, Argentina and Spain have a station here, whereas the Chilean station was washed away by an volcanic explosion. The station are mostly abandoned.

The inside of the buildings is reconquered by ice and snow....

45 men were buried in the station's cemetery (38 Norwegians, 3 Swedes, one Briton, one Chilean, one Russian and one of unknown origin), but the cemetery was buried in a 1969 eruption. Only a view graves were restored.

The remainder of a water boats used to bring water to the station

No comments: