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About This GigapanToggle
- Taken by
- Ella Derbyshire
- Explore score
- 0.09 Gigapixels
- Date added
- Apr 07, 2008
- Date taken
- Mar 02, 2008
Carl Anton Larson established Grytviken as the first whaling station on South Georgia in 1904. It was a wise choice for such an enterprise because there was a remarkable abundance of whales in the waters around South Georgia. Harvesting was profitable with whales rendered into oil for foods, cosmetics, medicines and chemical products, including explosives. Flexible baleen was the plastic of its day, and whale bones and meat were separated, boiled and ground into fertilizer. Six other whaling stations were established over the next 8 years, and there were permits for 2 more that were never built.
Twenty years later, whales were becoming scarcer around South Georgia, and so whaling ships ventured into the Southern Ocean. Floating factory ships replaced the whaling stations. Whale catchers, faster modern craft with radar, fired explosive-tipped harpoons that killed their prey, and then towed the carcasses to the floating factories The whaling stations were used for storage and for repairing whaling vessels.
But it takes a long time to grow a great whale. The whaling stopped when there were not enough whales to make whaling profitable anymore.
Whaling was an honorable profession in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Alas, whaling has taught us that we can hunt even the largest animals on Earth to the brink of extinction. Armed now with that knowledge, what valid reason can there be for a whaling ship to work the Southern Ocean the 21st Century?