Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) return to Cumberland Bay, South Georgia, one century after the peak of whaling

South Georgia island in the sub-Antarctic waters of the South Atlantic is where modern whaling began in Southern Ocean waters in the early twentieth century (Tønnessen & Johnsen, 1982). By 1900, historical and modern whaling had drastically reduced or effectively wiped out some populations of baleen whales across much of the North Atlantic and North Pacific (Clapham & Baker, 2002) and whalers were keen to exploit new seas. Norwegian whaler Captain C. A. Larsen first visited South Georgia island in 1892 while prospecting for new whaling sites. Larsen identified that the abundance of whales made South Georgia a promising site, particularly for whaling of blue (Balaenoptera musculus) and fin (B. physalus) whales (Hart, 2021), and identified the more protected north side of the island, and in particular the wide natural harbor of Cumberland Bay, as the best site for operations (Figure 1). After securing expedition funding, including one whale catcher vessel (the 33.5 m Fortuna), Larsen and his team arrived in South Georgia on November 16, 1904, to set up the Grytviken whaling station in Cumberland Bay.


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Authors: Jackson, Jennifer A. ORCIDORCID record for Jennifer A. Jackson, Kennedy, Amy S., Bamford, Connor C.G. ORCIDORCID record for Connor C.G. Bamford, Hart, Ian, Martin, Stephanie, MacDonald, Darryl, Moore, Michael M., Carroll, Emma L.

On this site: Connor Bamford, Jennifer Jackson
11 January, 2024
Marine Mammal Science / 40
9pp / 237-245
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