Sunday, February 10, 2013

History on Ice

To mix things up this time, I want to share some Antarctic history with you..

On our trips to the peninsula we quite frequently visit Port Lockroy.

Port Lockroy lies on Goudier Island and was discovered by Charcot’s French Antarctic Expedition in 1903-05 and was named after Eduard Lockroy, a French politician who helped Charcot finance his expedition.
Due to it’s location in a protected bay, Port Lockroy and the neighboring Jougla Point were frequently used by whalers and the remains still remind of this grim past.
Later on it served as the earliest British research station in the Antarctic Peninsula. It was established in February 1944 as Base A during the war and then used as basic research station for geology, meteorology and botany. In the final years of operation, it was an important station for ionospheric research.
The station closed in 1962 and was left to the elements….
In 1995, it was declared as a Historic site and Monument and with the help of the United Kingdom
Antarctic Heritage Trust rebuild to it’s original state.

Today it serves as museum and gift shop and is one of the most visited sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. 
It even has a post office! During the Antarctic summer months four engaged "residents" stay there to continue to restore and maintain the building and of course to keep the gift store going.
They have done a really lovely job bringing the original "Bransfield House", the main hut, back to life:

Entry Way


Pantry....Steak&Kidney Pudding sounds delicious....;-)

While restoring they found paintings of famous female celebrities under a thick layer of blue paint....I wonder what's the story behind that....

Accommodations, until about four years ago the summer residents had to sleep here. Now the original storage hut has been restored and serves as more private sleeping quarters.


Time to party...

When we arrived at Port Lockroy last Thursday morning, a near by glacier had just calved and the sea was full of little ice chunks. Beautiful to look at, but the full force of the “calving tsunami” hit us when we saw that the whale skeleton, which had been perfectly arranged the visit before was jumbled and all over the place. These bones weigh 80kg and more….



The gentoo penguin colony at this site is part of a long-term study monitoring the impact of tourist activities on penguins. Whereas in one area, visitors can walk alongside the colony, another area is completely closed off. The penguins certainly did not seem to be disturbed by our presence.

A conversation with one of the four “summer residents” revealed that tourists do not have any negative influence on the success of the colonies….good news since more and more people visit Antarctica each year.

No comments:

Post a Comment