You are currently viewing March 2024 Museum Blog – ‘Another record year for the South Georgia Museum!’

March 2024 Museum Blog – ‘Another record year for the South Georgia Museum!’

It seems like no time at all that we were all staring down at King Edward Point from the deck of the Fisheries Patrol Vessel Pharos SG – eagerly anticipating the coming season and all the adventures it would contain. Now, there is a distinct chill in the air and the giant whiteboard calendar in the museum office, which we use to keep track of ship visits, is looking rather empty!

It’s been so chilly recently that the Fur Seal pups have taken to sleeping in the shelter of our front porch!

The end of March sees the gradual end of the cruise ship season for us here at the museum – with just one ship expected in April. That means we can finally look back on the ‘season stats’, and they make for impressive reading!

At time of writing, we have welcomed 15,040 visitors to the museum this season. That’s a 10% increase on last year and a new record for the museum! We also welcomed 103 ships this season, including some famous faces – like the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

During their final visit this season, the passengers and crew of the RRS Sir David Attenborough came on a tour of the whaling station.

In between this month’s ship visits, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to join some of our visiting scientists on one of their boating trips around the island. This British Antarctic Survey ‘Hungry Humpbacks’ whale survey project is partially funded by South Georgia Heritage Trust, so it was fantastic to see what their work involves. On the trip we joined we were incredibly lucky to encounter a pod of Orca. As well as launching a drone to take video footage of the pod, the scientists also collected ID photographs to see if any of the whales had been recorded before. The goal of this project is to study the foraging patterns of whales around South Georgia, and the data that is collected will be used to inform quota setting for the krill fishery around the island.

While out with the Hungry Humpbacks, we were lucky enough to see Type A orca!

With things winding down for winter, much of March was spent getting the museum ready for its winter holidays. With assistance from some volunteers from King Edward Point, we brought all the interpretation signs in from around the whaling station and placed the benches and picnic table away. This will ensure that they aren’t damaged by the cold or snow over winter and helps them to last longer in this extreme environment. We also removed some of our more delicate objects from display in the museum. By placing them in storage while the museum is closed, we allow them to ‘rest’ and help to prolong their life – ensuring they will be there for visitors to the museum to enjoy for many years to come.

James, Helen and Hannah bringing in the whaling station interpretation signs for the winter

With much of the end of season prep done, it was time for two of our team members to start the long journey north. Helen and Bodil departed in the middle of March, having spent 142 days on the island. However, they weren’t the only ones starting the northbound migration. Towards the end of March, the original Hope Point Cross, erected by the crew of the Quest (Shackleton-Rowett) Expedition in memory of Ernest Shackleton, was loaded on to the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Its ultimate destination will be a brand new exhibition in Discovery Point in Dundee, Scotland.

Helen and Bodil departed on the FPV Pharos SG in the middle of March

The departure of the rest of the team means that it is just me left at Grytviken for the next few weeks. As well as welcoming the final ships of the season, I’ll be getting the museum fully closed down before my departure. However, even as one season ends, we’re already looking forward to the next one! Recruitment for the 2024-25 season is underway, and you can find out more about the positions we are hiring for at www.sght.org/job-vacancies.

In the meantime, enjoy this very wintery view of the bay – this much snow on the ground is definitely a sign that it’s nearly time to head home! It’s been another fantastic season here at the museum, but I think we’re all looking forward to seeing friends and family again – and eating all the fresh fruit and veg we can get our hands on!

The end of the summer has been heralded by dustings of snow over Grytviken and King Edward Point

Deirdre Mitchell, SGHT Director SG