BTA's Antarctic Log

site.btaDay 56: Deception Island's Whalers Bay Haunted by Ghostly Memories

Day 56: Deception Island's Whalers Bay Haunted by Ghostly Memories
Day 56: Deception Island's Whalers Bay Haunted by Ghostly Memories
Deception Island's Whalers Bay (BTA Photo/Konstantin Karagyozov)

In addition to vessels serving Antarctic bases of Spain and Argentina, passenger ships often sail through the narrow channel of Neptune's Bellows to circle Port Foster, the sea-flooded part of Deception Island's caldera depression. The island, shaped by the latest volcanic eruption to resemble a horseshoe, attracts tourists from all over the world with its large penguin and seal populations, and above all with its hot springs and abandoned buildings on the shore of Whalers Bay.

Whalers Bay is haunted by ghostly memories of times gone by. Human presence on Deception Island dates back to 1911, when the Norwegian company Hvalfangerselskabet Hector A/S built a whaling station there along a wide strip of black sand. Huge installations for melting and storing whale blubber oil were operational until 1931, when the product depreciated sharply.

On February 3, 1944, Britain's Royal Navy used three of the abandoned buildings of the former whaling station to set up a base called Station B. This happened during Operation Tabarin, a top-secret expedition launched by the British government during World War II. After Operation Tabarin was over, Station B was transferred to the predecessor of the British Antarctic Survey and became a weather monitoring and research station. An airfield and a hangar were built to serve other British Antarctic bases.

The research station was evacuated in 1967 due to a volcanic eruption. It was reopened in 1968 and then definitively closed on February 23, 1969 after another strong eruption on Deception Island, which triggered a landslide that destroyed many of the structures.

The ruins of the British base and the Norwegian whaling station can be seen nowadays. The shore of Whalers Bay is dotted with disused buildings and implements. There are try pots, whale oil storage containers and wooden boat carcasses.

Between 1990 and 1992, the British Antarctic Survey launched two campaigns to clear the place. A lot of dangerous waste such as residual fuel and batteries was removed. The abandoned buildings were formally designated as a historic monument by the Antarctic Treaty System in 1995 and will be preserved in the future.

BTA's Daily News editor Konstantin Karagyozov is the only member of the media who is travelling on board the ship to Livingston Island and back and covering the Bulgarian expedition throughout its stay in Antarctica.

All media outlets can use the Bulgaria-Antarctica BTA's Log for free.

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By 11:42 on 28.02.2024 Today`s news

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