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South Georgia settlements
Country  United Kingdom
British Overseas Territory  South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Population (2008)
 • Total 20
Time zone GST (UTC−2)

Grytviken (South Atlantic. It was so named in 1902 by the Swedish surveyor Johan Gunnar Andersson who found old English try pots used to render seal oil at the site. It is the best harbour on the island, consisting of a bay (King Edward Cove) within a bay (Cumberland East Bay). The site is quite sheltered, provides a substantial area of flat land suitable for building, and has a good supply of fresh water.


  • History 1
    • Carl Anton Larsen 1.1
    • Shackleton 1.2
    • Falklands War 1.3
    • Current situation 1.4
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • In popular culture 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Carl Anton Larsen

Photograph of Solveig Jacobsen standing (with her dog) in front of a whale on the Grytviken flensing plan, taken by Magistrate Edward Binnie in 1916.

The settlement at Grytviken was established on 16 November 1904, by the Norwegian sea captain Carl Anton Larsen as a whaling station for his Compañía Argentina de Pesca (Argentine Fishing Company).[9] It was phenomenally successful, with 195 whales taken in the first season alone. The whalers used every part of the animals – the blubber, meat, bones and viscera were rendered to extract the oil and the bones and meat were turned into fertilizer and fodder. Elephant seals were also hunted for their blubber. Around 300 men worked at the station during its heyday, operating during the southern summer from October to March. A few remained over the winter to maintain the boats and factory. Every few months a transport ship would bring essential supplies to the station and take away the oil and other produce. The following year the Argentine Government established a meteorological station.

Carl Anton Larsen, the founder of Grytviken, was a naturalised Briton born in

As the manager of Compañía Argentina de Pesca, Larsen organised the construction of Grytviken, a remarkable undertaking accomplished by a team of sixty Norwegians between their arrival on 16 November and commencement of production at the newly built whale-oil factory on 24 December 1904.

Whaling station Grytviken in 1989.

Larsen chose the whaling station's site during his 1902 visit while in command of the ship Antarctic of the

  • Britain's Small Wars: The Argentine Invasion of South Georgia

External links

  1. ^ J.G.Andersson. Antarctic. Stockholm: Saxon & Lindström, 1944. pp. 192.
  2. ^ H. J. G. Dartnall; E. D. Hollowday (1985). Antarctic Rotifers. British Antarctic Survey. 
  3. ^ Robert Headland (21 May 1992). The Island of South Georgia. CUP Archive. pp. 63–.  
  4. ^ Tony Wheeler (2004). The Falklands & South Georgia Island. Lonely Planet. pp. 149–.  
  5. ^ Gordon Gray (4 March 2015). Polar Voyages. Amberley Publishing Limited. pp. 118–.  
  6. ^ René Kœhler (1923). Astéries Et Ophiures. P.A. Norstedt & söner. p. 36. 
  7. ^ Melanie Challenger (6 October 2011). On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature. Granta Publications. pp. 43–.  
  8. ^ Ian B. Hart (2001). Pesca: The History of Compañia Argentina de Pesca Sociedad Anónima of Buenos Aires : an Account of the Pioneer Modern Whaling and Sealing Company in the Antarctic. Aidan Ellis. p. 24.  
  9. ^ R.K. Headland, The Island of South Georgia, Cambridge University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-521-25274-1
  10. ^ British Antarctic Survey (1962), Scientific reports, vol. 101–105, British Antarctic Survey, p. 44, OCLC 10362390
  11. ^ "Forgotten hero Frank Wild of Antarctic exploration finally laid to rest, beside his 'boss' Sir Ernest Shackleton". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  12. ^ "Vows – Lesley Friedsam and Peter Damisch". New York Times. 2006-03-19. Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  13. ^ "Temp/Rain 1901–1950". Globalbioclimatics. Apr 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Sunshine 1931–1960 [page 242]" (PDF). DMI.DK. Apr 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 


See also


The church and abandoned whaling station at Grytviken make an appearance in the 2006 Oscar-winning feature film, Happy Feet.

In popular culture

Climate data for Grytviken, South Georgia, 1901–1950 (Sunshine 1931–1960)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.5
Average high °C (°F) 8.4
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
Record low °C (°F) −4.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 92.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 152 160 127 66 34 12 22 74 123 171 174 167 1,282
Source #1: Globalbioclimatics/S.Rivas-Martínez[13]
Source #2: DMI/Danish Meteorology Institute[14]



Grytviken is a popular stop for station's church is the only building which retains its original purpose, and is still used occasionally for services. There have been several marriages in Grytviken, the first being registered on 24 February 1932, between A.G.N. Jones and Vera Riches, more recently on 19 February 2006, between Peter W. Damisch and Lesley J. Friedsam.[12] and most recently on 18 November 2009, between Remco Masmeijer and Sabine Lokin from the Netherlands, who are said to be the 12th couple ever to get married here. On 28 January 2007, a service was conducted in remembrance of Anders Hansen (a Norwegian whaler buried at Grytviken Cemetery in 1943) and to celebrate his great-great-grandson Axel Wattø Eide's baptism occurring in Oslo, Norway, the same day.

Along with the surrounding area, the station has been declared an Area of Special Tourist Interest (ASTI).

South Georgia Museum, Grytviken
Panorama view of Grytviken

Current situation

On 25 April, the Leith Harbour commanded by Captain Alfredo Astiz also surrendered. Finally, the Argentine personnel were removed from the South Sandwich Islands by HMS Endurance on 20 June. Due to evidence of an unauthorised visit, the closed station Corbeta Uruguay was destroyed in January 1983.

Supported by the corvette St. Andrew's Bay remaining under British control.

During the Falklands War, Grytviken was captured by Argentine forces in early April 1982 following a brief battle with British Royal Marines. The Royal Marines, SAS and SBS retook the settlement three weeks later without a shot being fired in return.

Falklands War

On 27 November 2011, the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton's 'right-hand man', were interred on the right side of Shackleton's grave-site. The inscription on the rough-hewn granite block set to mark the spot reads "Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton's right-hand man." Wild's relatives and Shackleton's only granddaughter, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, attended a service conducted by the Rev Dr Richard Hines, rector of the Falkland Islands. The writer Angie Butler discovered the ashes in the vault of Braamfontein Cemetery, Johannesburg, while researching her book The Quest For Frank Wild. She said "His ashes will now be where they were always supposed to be. It just took them a long time getting there".[11]

He again returned to Grytviken, but posthumously. In 1922 he had died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the beginning of another Antarctic expedition. His widow chose South Georgia as his final resting place. His grave is located south of Grytviken, alongside those of whalers who had died on the island.

Grytviken is closely associated with the Anglo-Irish explorer Stromness on the northeast coast. From Grytviken, Shackleton organised a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men.

Shackleton's grave in Grytviken.


The whale population in the seas around the island was substantially reduced over the following sixty years until the station closed in December 1966, by which time the whale stocks were so low that their continued exploitation was unviable. Even now, the shore around Grytviken is littered with whale bones and the rusting remains of whale oil processing plants and abandoned whaling ships.

Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often had their families living together with them. Among them was Fridthjof Jacobsen whose wife Klara Olette Jacobsen gave birth to two of their children in Grytviken; their daughter Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen was the first child ever born south of the Antarctic Convergence, on 8 October 1913. Several more children have been born on South Georgia: recently even aboard visiting private yachts.


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