Shame and redemption

One of the most shocking sights on our trip to South Georgia was the whaling stations. These remind us of the slaughter that took place before species conservation took hold. In all honesty, having been in the company of these gentle giants for a while you do wonder how anybody had the heart to harpoon them. Slowly the whaling stations are being returned to nature either through long term natural decay or by careful demolition or as historical artefacts. Many are not on the tourist route because they are riddled with asbestos.

Here are some of the images I took. A sort of beauty and the beast.

Wreck

whalestationview

Sealboat

Petrel

Killing-machine

Chain

The nice thing is to see how the gulls and seals are reclaiming their territory. And the boats here will never go to sea again. Let us hope that before long all commercial whaling will be stopped.

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13 thoughts on “Shame and redemption

  1. Great photos, Andrew and a poignant reminder of those terrible times. Mind you, if certain countries had their way, we’d be at it full on again; or should that be only for scientific purposes! We’re doing an Alaskan cruise in August and are hoping to see some of these great beasts.

  2. I shan’t rise to this one to launch into animal rights blah blah. I’ve been shot too many times this week. Although I am tempted …. But no.

    Your photos look amazingly similar to the postcard link I sent you ages ago about South Georgia of ceiling vessels (http://wp.me/p2c8OG-c3) in case you have forgotten. Perhaps you should start selling postcards in SG? And of course you have some rather nice seals on pic 3. I do love me some seals, as much as penguins. My mother’s sealskin boots were abhorrent 😦

    FWIW one of the reasons Japan has never been on my travel itinerary was because of their whaling policy. I’m sure my personal boycott has made no difference but at least my conscience felt better.

  3. Quite amazing Andrew – I love the photographs. My ancestors (convicts from Cork) became two of the famous ‘whalers of Eden’. They were called ‘Black Johnny Power’ and ‘Red Johnny Power’ and they were great scullers. It’s an interesting heritage but I’m pretty proud of it. Their families eventually settled out in the Morano and they were true pioneers. It was remarkable that men would go out in wooden long boats and pitch themselves against a whale with hand held harpoons. At least in those days it was a fair enough fight – a man was as likely to die as the whale in the struggle for supremacy. The whaling also supported a pod of killer whales who lived around Eden and benefited from the killing of the Baleen whales. When whaling stopped the killer whalers, who were known and named individually by the whalers (but never hunted) – moved on.
    The industrial killing of whales is wholly another thing and I can’t quite understand how this still goes on. I’m sure you’d find some history on whaling from this side of the world interesting http://eden.nsw.au/~edennswa/index.php/historic-eden41/historic-sites61/davidson-whaling-station58

  4. There is a long laundry list of things human do that shocks the senses. While many still see no reason to stop these behaviors, the animal rights folks that Roughy mentions are the reason some atrocities have ended so good for her. Personal boycotts may not seem like they make a difference but if our conscience is served then it does make a dent in the wall. What used to be my favorite restaurant back in the 70’s started a wild beastie week…lion, rhino etc. It made no sense when they already served great food from farmed animals….I hope my giving away my omnivore status isn’t offending…so I boycotted them for 30 years. I am sure they didn’t notice my absence and it hurt me more than them as it meant missing out on their velvet chocolate mousse angel cake. We occasionally go there now as the week was discarded years ago…as was the cake.

    I like pictures of decay as a statement and these do it very well, Andrew. The combination of seals laying about and the signs of industry in their state of disintegration tells a strong story.

  5. A lovely selection of photos :-), but such a sad story attached to the subject. It’s nice to see nature reclaiming what is rightfully hers.
    As rough seas has said, they have a real postcard look to them.

  6. Thanks for sharing your images. I too wonder how anyone can bring themselves to harpoon these magnificent creatures and I share your hope that whaling activities cease. Perhaps whaling — the products gleaned from taking whales — were a necessity for survival (perhaps), today that is no longer the case. Why it is so difficult for some to realize and accept this is beyond me. As a previous reader put it, glad to see the seals, whales and nature reclaiming their territory. Thanks for the post.

  7. It’s very nice to see these old memories being reclaimed (however slowly) by the landscape; I think that’s pretty symbolic in and of itself.

    Thanks for sharing these evocative photos, Andrew.

  8. Great lessons given through each commenters eyes. Thought provoking images that in my eyes are a disgrace to humantiy. What man can not do to man he commits to destruction of nature and its inhabitants. The photos seem surreal yet the seals lying near the vessels of death give life to the photos, making the scenes less disturbing.

    South Georgia really is a remote and barren place. Now it rightfully belongs to the birds and animals and I say that is one huge stride.

    It is sinful that whaling as an industry in Japan continues. I do not understand why the USA and other countires have not made much of an attempt to pressure Japan to cease and desist its whaling operations.

    Excellent photos by the way, Andrew.

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