Antarctic Peninsula

Region: Antarctica

Destinations: South Georgia

Grytviken, South Georgia

During the early 20th century, Norwegian sea captain Carl Anton Larsen established a whaling and sealing station on the remote island of South Georgia. He chose this particular location after first visiting the island during the 1901-1903 Swedish Antarctic expedition. The waters were teeming with marine life, which provided the perfect opportunity to meet the high global demand for whale oil and products. With unrestricted whaling and fishing opportunities, Grytviken was the ideal place to set up shop.

The following 60 years of unsustainable hunting practices eventually took its toll on South Georgia’s marine mammal populations. By the mid 1960s, whales and seals had drastically declined to the point of complete disappearance. Soon, whalers at Grytviken found themselves with nothing left to fish out of the oceans and were faced with the reality of closing the station’s doors for good. There seemed no point in completely removing the station from the shores where it stood, especially since there was limited room on the ship back to Europe. Instead, the whalers left the station to the harsh Antarctic elements to sit for eternity.

Today, Grytviken remains preserved in near pristine condition and offers tourists an opportunity to step back into the early days of Antarctic exploration and establishment. There is very little about this deserted station that has changed since it was officially closed, except the addition of the South Georgia Museum, which comprehensively exhibits the history and significance of South Georgia Island during the turn of the century.

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