Visiting Grytviken, a whale station town in South Georgia
The history of whaling is, for me, one of the cruelest in human history. However, it is also amazing how our relationship with these amazing giants has changed in less than a century and that populations of marine mammals had such resilience as to recover after being driven close to extinction. In fact, the end of commercial whaling was due to a combination of increase knowledge and conservation awareness and also due to many whale species being considered “commercially extinct”, meaning that their populations became so few and rare that the business stopped being profitable. It was impressive to read the information at the whaling museum, which explained that more than 54,000 whales had been killed and processed at this site between 1915 and 1965. Also, seeing the weapons and the tools to process the animals was informative but sad. I learnt than 1/3 of the fat in the whale came from around and inside the bones. For that reason, the bones were cooked in high pressure boilers and once the oil was extracted, the bones were pulverized and used as fertilizer.
Visiting this whale station and town was definitely an interesting experience. The rusty equipment and ships (The Petrel) were reminders of the sad story of whaling. In contrast, there were so many fur seal pups playing and sleeping around the museum and next to the whale bones and rusty metal pieces, that it was a reminder of how life always wins in the long run...even when humans have tried hard to silence it.
A couple of Antarctic terns, taking care of their fledging, were also a reminder of the continuing circle of life. A mom fur seal taking care of five pups that were running to all corners of the beach inevitably reminded Gaby and me of the main adventure of these two adventurous mothers…taking care and bringing up our beautiful boys back home…who we miss and think about all the time!!
PS: We sent post cards home…let see if those get there before we do!