Young visitor Jack Barnes wrote a poem after going on the South Georgia Museum Whaling Station Tour

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Over the course of the summer we see quite a few yachts and at the end of January sailing boat s/v Sila sailed in to Grytviken. On board were parents Molly and Chis Barnes, their two sons, Porter and Jack, and family friend Adam. They spent several days exploring Grytviken and went on a tour of the whaling station with curator Deirdre Mitchell. They then sailed away to further explore the island. A couple of weeks later they were back alongside and Jack read us his poem about the whaling station. We thought it was so good we wanted to share it with you. He has very kindly agreed to let us post it here, and you can also read it on sila’s own blog - http://svsila.blogspot.co.uk/. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


The Place That is Called Grytviken by Jack Rabbit
Jack and his poem at Grytviken
Jack and his poem at Grytviken

The place that is called Grytviken

Is more than it seems to be

It has some rusty old buildings

But behind them is great history


First a Norwegian named Larsen

Noticed the Northern Seas fail

Blubber oil was running real short

Almost extinct was the whale


Larsen came down to South Georgia

Where he saw whales crowding around

He built a good whaling station

Here where his prey was found


Six weeks after he landed

Their first whale lost its oil

And after a bit of hard practice

Tons of whales succumbed to their toil


They'd take one of the boats

Then find and chase down the prey

After shooting it with a harpoon

They'd let it drift and be on their way


They then towed the whales to Grytviken

All 14, the catch of the day

Grytviken was in the right place

Lots of whales were close in the bay


A whale was hauled on to shore

On a deck called the flensing plan

Three men then jumped right up

To shave off the blubber by hand


One man went up on top

And one man went on each side

With sharp sticks they then peeled the whale

Like a banana, off came its hide


Hooks were put deep in the whale

And winches pulled off the skin

They had big pressure cookers

That all the blubber went in


This process went on for years

But their work did not suffice

A new law was then passed

By the Falkland Governor Allardyce


He said, "Use the whole whale

Or don't even catch it at best

Because it is just a big waste

To use blubber and dump all the rest."


A third of the oil's in bones

So the law benefitted the whalers

And they began to use the whole whale

Instead of being carcass bailers


The meat was made into meat-meal

Or else served to the pets to eat

Fertilizer was made from the bones

And scrimshaw, no other bone could beat


However, the age of success

Was over, but what about?

The whalers hunted the whales

And their numbers had nearly died out


The whaling companies crashed

And Grytviken was not so great

They then stopped hunting the whales

But their numbers were in a bad state


The population is slowly increasing

Now that whalers aren't out to kill

South Georgia might have more whales

And I really hope that it will


-Jack Barnes, aged 10.