From South Georgia Website
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SG Toothfish Fishery One Of The Best Managed In The World
Two independent reviewers, Dr Stuart Hanchet and Dr Dirk Welsford, recently described the South Georgia Patagonian toothfish fishery as one of the best managed fisheries in the world.
The two experienced fisheries scientists visited Stanley in June, at the invitation of GSGSSI, to undertake an independent evaluation of the management of the fishery. The review is linked to the reassessment of the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the fishery, which is currently in progress.
Whilst in Stanley the reviewers met with GSGSSI Director of Fisheries, Martin Collins, Marine & Fisheries Officer Katherine Ross and scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS), who are contracted to provide scientific advice to GSGSSI. The reviewers also met with fishing industry representatives and fisheries protection officers, who are based in the fisheries department in Stanley.
In reviewing the fishery the panel considered the status of target and non-target species, and the management procedures that are in place. GSGSSI manages fisheries under the requirements of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), but has also introduced additional regulation, including closed areas, marked hooks and safety requirements.
Drs Welsford and Hanchet will provide a full report to GSGSSI but their preliminary recommendations include minor improvements to stock assessments, better monitoring of both juvenile and adult fish; and to better document the development of the regulations in the fishery. The latter should clearly set out the rationale for the regulations and how they will be maintained in future. Dr Welsford made the point that, “if Dr Collins heads off to ‘warmer climes,’ one day it is important that the high standards are maintained.”
As part of the MSC recertification the Public Comment Draft Report is now available on the MSC website and any comments must be submitted by August 7th.
Bird Island Pioneer Scientist Lance Tickell
Lance Tickell surveying on Bird Island. Photo Ron Pinder.
Lance Tickell, one of the scientists who founded the scientific base on Bird Island, died on June 10th 2014. Born in 1930 in Coventry, Tickell had what he described as a “nomadic childhood”. He did national service in the army after which he returned to education, eventually going to the University College of North Wales at Bangor to study botany and zoology.
In August 1954 he joined the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), a precursor to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). He studied meteorology before being posted to Signy Island in the South Orkneys, where he became Base Leader in his second year. His work there included a special study of the dove (Antarctic) prion and other bird species, as well as assisting with the surveying of Coronation Island. On his return to the UK he continued working for FIDS whilst writing up a scientific report on the prion for which he was awarded an MSc.
He organised the South Georgia Biological Expedition 1958–1959 with Peter Cordall. They sailed to the island on the whaling tanker Southern Opal. Initially they camped and carried out their studies at Elsehul, before moving to Bird Island where they were joined for a while by Sealing Inspector Nigel Bonner. The team built a small shed, the first building on the island, which later became known as ‘Bonner’s Bothy’. Tickell and Cordall helped Bonner tag fur seal pups then, when Bonner left, they remained on the island for a further 15 weeks to set up field–studies of albatross and to survey the island. The resulting map was still in use 40 years later.
Lance Tickell returned to Bird Island on another two-person expedition in 1960-61. The expedition was funded by the United States Antarctic Research Program of the US National Science Foundation. Tickell was accompanied by Harold Dollman and they again helped Bonner tag fur seal pups, then stayed on to work on albatrosses.
Tickell made a third visit to Bird Island on an 18-month long expedition with Ronald Pinder and Harry Clagg. During this expedition they built three new huts and were the first people to overwinter on the island.
His studies of wandering and other albatrosses on Bird Island were pioneering and at times unconventional. In one attempt to find out where wandering albatrosses flew, the feathers of some birds nesting on the island were dyed bright pink in the hope mariners would spot the birds and report on their whereabouts.
Ron Pinder sprays a wandering albatross pink as part of a study to determine where the birds flew.
After returning to the UK, Tickell married Willow Anne Phelps in 1962. The couple went to Baltimore in 1964 where Tickell worked at Johns Hopkins University and while there he wrote a dissertation on the great albatrosses for a DSc. Tickell’s work then took him and his family to Scotland as warden naturalist for Shetland and Orkney, before heading to East Africa in 1969 where he lectured at universities in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Lesotho. Eventually the family returned to the UK and settled in Bristol where he became a television producer in the BBC Natural History Unit. He directed a documentary about albatrosses called 'Marathon Birds', and was one of the producers of the acclaimed series 'Life in the Freezer', filming for which brought him back to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
The cover of the book ‘Albatrosses’ by Lance Tickell.
During his career Lance Tickell published over 15 scientific papers on albatrosses based on his studies in the south, culminating in a book ‘Albatrosses’ - a comparative book on all albatrosses published in 2000. Lance Tickell and his association with Bird Island is commemorated by the mountain named after him, Tickell Peak, which is the second highest peak on the island.
Info: Dictionary of Falkland Biography.
Royal Christening: New Stamp Release
A new set of stamps, inspired by the recent royal christening of Prince George, was released on June 23rd. This four-stamp issue features four royal christenings and four generations of the British royal family.
Prince George, born on July 22nd 2013, features on the £1.20 stamp with his parents Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Prince George is third in line to succeed his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, after his grandfather and father. The christening of Prince George took place at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, on October 23rd, 2013. The choice of venue was of great significance to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as it is where the Duchess was confirmed into the Church of England ahead of her wedding and where the family of Princess Diana paid their respects privately ahead of her very public funeral.
The £1 stamp features Prince William’s christening in 1982. He was dressed in the traditional lace and satin robe made for Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, which was also worn by his father and grandmother at their christenings as is depicted on the other stamps. This delicate outfit was not used for Prince George but he did wear an identical handmade christening gown.
The 75p stamp is of Princess Elizabeth with her baby son Prince Charles after his christening on December 15th 1948.
The 65p stamp goes back one further generation and shows the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) with their daughter (later, Queen Elizabeth II) on May 1st 1926.
The image on the First Day Cover depicts Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, holding their son Prince George as they arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace for his christening.
Several other British Overseas Territories and Commonwealth countries also released stamp sets to commemorate Prince George’s christening including The Bahamas, Ascension Island, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, and Tristan da Cunha.
South Georgia stamps and First Day Covers can be bought from http://www.falklandstamps.com
Fishing And Shipping News
An administrative penalty has been issued to the charters of a licensed longline vessel as a result an infringement of one of the CCAMLR Conservation Measures. The penalty notice was issued on April 30th and related to an event in the South Georgia toothfish fishery on April 13th, 2014.
The penalty was a result of the vessel completing the setting of a line after nautical twilight (dawn), which is a contravention of the night setting requirement designed to reduce seabird mortality in longline fisheries. The late setting of the line is likely to have contributed to the incidental mortality of 74 white-chinned petrels which were caught during setting of the line. This incidental mortality event is the largest in the fishery for over 10 years. GSGSSI takes any contravention of licence conditions extremely seriously, particularly contraventions that may lead to the killing of seabirds. The vessel operators subsequently admitted the offence and were issued with a penalty of £30,000.
June was a busy month in the South Georgia fishery. The sixth and final licensed toothfish longliner started fishing on June 20th. Toothfish catches remained good throughout June, averaging over three tonnes per-ship-per-day.
The krill fishing fleet arrived during June, when ice conditions prevented the vessels from fishing in the South Orkneys. The first krill trawler was licensed on June 4th and by the end of the month there were six krill vessels licensed and trawling. The krill fishing in June has been very good with average catches per ship per day of 130 tonnes, reaching 174 tonnes towards the end of the month.
With the arrival of the krill vessels, the total number of fishing vessels operating within the fishery increased to twelve by the end of the month. In addition two reefers anchored in Cumberland Bay to receive transhipments from krill trawlers. In total, 18 harbour visits were made to Cumberland Bay during June.
Krill trawler in Cumberland Bay. Photo Jo Cox.
The trawl deck of a krill trawler. Photo Simon Browning.
‘Busy And Diverse Season’ GSGSSI Tell Tourist Operators
In GSGSSI’s annual address to the tourism industry at the IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) meeting in Providence, Richard McKee summarised the 2013-14 season as incredibly busy and diverse.
In a season with 55 cruise ship visits, carrying 7,024 passengers, South Georgia also saw on-going habitat restoration and heritage projects, various external science projects and Government-led projects to review visitor activities (extended walks), and the medical arrangements on visiting cruise ships.
Vessels like Ortelius
, (seen here at the port where many cruises start and end, Ushuia
in Argentina), made 55 visits to South Georgia last tourist season.
Richard McKee told the IAATO members that GSGSSI is developing a new method of distributing information to the cruise ship industry and that, from this season, all cruise ships and their Expedition Leaders will receive a memory stick with the key visit documents and other material. This will include an updated copy of the briefing film that has to be shown to visitors before they land on the island.
Richard McKee also told the meeting about other developments at South Georgia, such as the on-going legislative review. He added that GSGSSI will be consulting with stakeholders such as IAATO, when the new Visitor Ordnance has been drafted.
There was also a progress report on the review of existing overland walks (used by visitors to the island) and potential new walks. A set of guidelines for all walks has been drafted with information that includes an assessment of the difficulty of the walk using a traffic light indicator system – green, amber and red. Walk distances and height gain of the route, as well as GPS waypoints and a written description of the route and required minimum staff-to-visitor ratios, will also be included in the guidelines. The text will be accompanied by photographs of the route. The minimum staff-to-visitor ratio will change according to the grading of the route. For the “straightforward” green routes it will be 1 guide to 20 walkers, with a maximum of 100 visitors participating; amber routes will have 1:15 staff-to-visitor ratio, maximum visitor participation also of 100; and red routes will have a staff-to-visitor ratio of 1:10 with a maximum visitor number of 10. In all cases, walking parties will be expected to have adequate numbers of additional suitably experienced staff to respond to any incident arising. A small number of closed areas have been created either for safety or environmental reasons. Other requirements will include what safety equipment should be carried and what medical provision should be made, and there are recommendations about what the individual walkers should carry with them including spare clothing and emergency food.
Tour operators will be required to report all accidents (even minor ones) in future. The new documents for the approved walks will be available in time for the next tourist season. Some of the details are published in the annex to the document published on this website in June, see link below.
GSGSSI also encouraged IAATO to develop their own guidelines for other visitor activities such as diving and kayaking (there has been a 50% increase in kayaking over the past 2 seasons).
IAATO were informed of the on-going review of medical arrangements and capabilities on visiting cruise ships. Although the review is not yet complete, GSGSSI highlighted some areas of immediate concern such as ships holding insufficient stocks of some drugs. It is essential that vessel operators review their medical capabilities to ensure that they can operate in a remote ocean region and be self sufficient (extending their supplies as necessary above and beyond their current minimum flag state mandatory requirements).
Richard McKee also updated the IAATO members on various other South Georgia projects including works projects and the establishment of the Government’s Heritage Advisory Panel. The panel will in future advise Government on all heritage project proposals as well as providing specialist advice and recommendations on policy development, restoration strategies and the drafting of new legislation. Updates were also given on the habitat restoration work, comprising the ongoing eradication of reindeer, rodents, and invasive plants. He ended his address by appealing to the tourist industry to assist the safeguarding of the island into the future, asking them to ensure that all biosecurity precautions are being rigorously and effectively implemented because no individual, or company, would want their South Georgia legacy to be an ecologically catastrophic breach. He also thanked IAATO members for all the efforts they make to address this challenge.
The full 12 page address was published in June and can be read on this website here.
Glacial History Of South Georgia
In the last 100 years of glacial research on South Georgia, the focus was primarily looking at glaciers and glacial features above sea level. However, modern technology is now allowing scientists to look underwater and so unravel more of the details of the island’s icy past.
Using multibeam swath bathymetric survey equipment aboard the naval survey vessel HMS Endurance and the BAS ship RRS James Clark Ross, scientists have mapped the major fjords around South Georgia. The surveys were carried out in 2005/6 and the data showing the shape of these deep underwater ice-cut valleys have now been analysed to uncover the history of their formation.
The detailed images produced by the surveys show some pronounced glacial features hidden under many hundreds of metres of water, including the moraines from glaciers that carved these deep and now flooded valleys. Analysis of the different fjords showed consistent patterns of these glacial features, which suggests that the margins of the island’s ice cap responded similarly in all places to the climate effects of the past. The inner basin moraines all seem to date from the last major glacial advance (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM), while deep basin moraines may date from an earlier (pre-LGM) and more extensive glaciation. The sides of the deep basins feature a series of truncated moraines that show where ice had advanced from preceding glacial periods. Other cross-shelf and mid-trough moraines may be the result of much more extensive glaciations and even earlier glaciation. Overall the pattern of South Georgia historic glaciation is similar to that seen in central Patagonia.
One of the areas surveyed was Cumberland Bay East, the largest fjord system on the island at approximately 15km long, 3–5km wide and up to 270m deep. Some of the historic glacial features identified can be seen in the figure below; details include seafloor depressions where there have been grounded icebergs and iceberg scour.
The paper ‘Glacial history of sub-Antarctic South Georgia based on the submarine
geomorphology of its fjords’ was published in ‘Quaternary Science Reviews’. This detailed paper describes the geomorphology of several major fjords and discusses the glacial history of the island. The two lead authors are Dominic A. Hodgson and Alastair G.C. Graham.
You can read the full paper here.
(A) Multibeam swath bathymetry of Cumberland Bay East. Inset boxes show: (B) an enlarged image of the inner basin and inner basin moraine; (C) an enlarged image of the outer basin moraine; (D) a cross section along the fjord and (E) a TOPAS sub-bottom profile collected on the RRS James Clark Ross
cruise JR224 shows cross-sections of both the outer deep basin moraine as well as the second remnant moraine landward of this feature.
Rare Porpoise On New Coin
A rare marine species, the spectacled porpoise, features on the most recently released South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands coin. Spectacled porpoise are a rarely seen member of the porpoise family but are present in the cool sub-Antarctic waters off South Georgia. The species is easily distinguished from other porpoises by a characteristic dark ring around the eyes which is commonly surrounded by a further light ring - the effect can look like spectacles - hence the animal’s name. The porpoise also has distinctive markings on its body – dark above and white underneath – with a white stripe on the upper surface of the tail. The total population is unknown and therefore the species is listed as Threatened by the IUCN.
The new coin features a spectacled porpoise in the foreground with a mother and calf in the background. The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS. The coins are available in cupro-nickel and silver, struck at Pobjoy Mint to the highest quality.
SGSSI coins can be purchased from Pobjoy Mint at http://www.pobjoy.com
Bird Island Diary – Midwinter Edition
By Rob Fry, Technician at the BAS Research Station at Bird Island.
The monthly albatross census around the whole of the island is a great experience as you get up close to these beautiful birds, and for myself as the island technician, it is a great excuse to get out and about and do some exploring. The birds are getting really big now; not like anything I’m used to seeing back in the UK, which makes the experience even more surreal.
Over the following weeks the whole base was preparing for midwinter celebrations and the returning of the light for our colleagues further down on the Antarctic continent.
The photo we sent out to all the other bases. Photo Jerry Gillham
At the beginning of winter we drew names out of a hat to see who we were each making midwinter gifts for. Then it was full steam ahead in the workshop, with a couple of show and tells on the safe use of the equipment and safety gear. The workshop itself, usually my domain, turned into a makeshift Santa’s factory, and with the absolute secrecy of the gifts, most people took theirs to their own pit rooms to finish off and wrap beautifully. You could feel everyone’s creations taking shape and the excitement growing over the whole gift making and giving experience.
When midwinter’s day arrived, the Base Commander was up bright and early to make a full-English breakfast for all. Despite the holiday, Cian and Jerry still had to go out on the leopard seal round looking for newly arrived seals. Whilst the boys braved the snowy day Jess and I started the preparations for the main Midwinter’s meal. Jess had also been busy preparing mince pies and a midwinter’s cake, which Cian decorated beautifully as a wide-mouthed leopard seal.
You need a wide mouth to eat this midwinter cake. Photo Jess Walkup
Once we had the midwinter’s meal organised and in the oven, we got to the really exciting part of the day; the giving of gifts. The crafts included: a collection of framed drawings depicting me and the island’s wildlife; a beautiful rustic-looking clock using old bird tags to mark the hours on the clock face; a wood carving of a wandering albatross family and a fully operational scale-model of scientific seal equipment.
One of the hand-crafted midwinter gifts. Photo Jerry Gillham.
After the giving of gifts, we settled in and watched the traditional midwinter’s movie; ‘The Thing’ then sat down to our beautiful midwinter’s feast.
For the rest of our midwinter’s holiday we had a movie marathon day; a miniature golf tournament (not the easiest round of golf we have ever played, but the funniest); and the traditional highland games with caber tossing, welly throwing and other events including the egg and spoon snow-drift slalom!
Our last midwinter event was a nice “family” day out around the island to Johnson Cove to explore some exciting caves. Oh, and we also found time to get all of our day-to-day tasks done too!
A refreshing dip preceded the KEP winterers getting all dressed up for the Midwinter feast.
KEP: At KEP, Midwinter was also a traditional affair. The Base Commander was up early to make breakfast for all the base members. Then the small wintering population gathered for the icy plunge of the midwinter swim before gathering in the warmer confines of the base lounge to swap handmade gifts before communally creating a massive feast. Best clothes were worn for the sit down multi-course dinner that resulted. Other traditional events included the Midwinter Olympics. Luckily there was just enough snow at KEP to allow for such snowy sports, though overall there has been no snow accumulation this winter so far. The sporting events included the javelin throw and the sledge pull, which was probably enjoyed more by the people on the sledge than the person pulling! The standard of hand-crafted midwinter gifts was once again impressively high.
An impressive display of home crafts was once again on display evident amongst this year’s midwinter presents. Back row left to right: two drinks flasks in display case; a pair of candle sticks; knife and sheath; tree pictures and a drinks set consisting of spirit measures and hip flask in display case. Middle row: set of engraved drinks coasters; sword and sheath; model of a whaling harpoon gun and a scale model of whaling vessel Dias
. Front: cuff links; felted picture of a jet boat and a set three framed albatross and Land Rover paintings. Photos Matt Phillips.
South Georgia Snippets
SSI Major earthquake: A major earthquake, initially reported as 7.1 on the Richter scale but later downgraded to 6.9, occurred on June 29th off the South Sandwich Islands.
The powerful earthquake struck at 07.52 GMT, and had an epicentre 154 km northwest of Visokoi Island at a depth of 16.5 km. The quake was judged not to be a tsunami risk and no tsunami warning was issued.
‘Troubled Waters’ raising funds for BirdLife: A special edition of the book ‘Troubled Waters’ was produced to raise funds for BirdLife International for seabird conservation. The book was the result of artist Bruce Pearson’s first-hand experience with the fishing fleets that interact with seabirds off the African and South American coasts, and his fieldwork in the Southern Ocean and on South Georgia. This stunning book, filled with artwork produced on the various vessels he travelled with, was released as a limited edition of 100 leather-bound books. Produced by Langford Press, the limited edition book is presented in a slip-case and is delivered complete with an original watercolour painting by Bruce Pearson. Thirty of the special issue are still available priced £200 (minimum). Find out more and how to order here.
Latest edition of ‘Project News’: Latest edition of the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s newsletter on the progress of their Habitat Restoration Project to rid South Georgia of rodents was published in June. The 21st edition of ‘Project News’ highlights the recently announced successful pest eradication on Macquarie Island, as well as explaining the function of the SGHT Habitat Restoration Steering Committee, and, following SGHT attendance at the recent IAATO meeting, a big thank you to the tourist industry for all it does to support the project.
SGHT Project News can be downloaded from their website.
Last Man Off: A book about the experiences of the scientific observer who survived the sinking of the Sudur Havid off South Georgia is being published on July 10th. This true story of disaster and survival on the deadly cold Antarctic seas will also be serialised on BBC Radio 4 as their ‘book of the week’ in July.
The Sudur Havid sank in 1998 whilst fishing for toothfish. Her 38 crew abandoned to life rafts with little time to prepare, in failing light and atrocious weather, not knowing whether rescue was on its way. When the crew that survived the ordeal were rescued they were taken to KEP and looked after until they could be put on another vessel home. A hillside cross and a life-ring and plaque in the Grytviken church remain as memorials to the tragedy.
The author, Matt Lewis, who was on his first trip to sea as a scientific observer, tells the story of the crew's fight for life in the Southern Ocean. There will be a review of this book in next month’s edition of this newsletter.
The book, published by Penguin, can be ordered from the website http://www.lastmanoff.com
Dates For Your Diary
Plymouth Shackleton 100: One of the first events of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition was the sailing of Endurance from Plymouth. To mark this, a three-day event ‘Plymouth Shackleton 100’ will be centred on the Duke of Cornwall Hotel in Plymouth, UK, which is where Shackleton and several of the crew stayed prior to the ship’s departure.
‘Plymouth Shackleton 100’ is being held from August 6th- 8th and includes a black tie dinner, lectures and shows and a re-enactment of the Endurance sailing by a tall ship. People can attend individual events, just one day, or the whole three-day event.
More information here.
Shackleton, the SPRI Collection: Shackleton: Life and Leadership
This exhibition starts on August 1st at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge.
The exhibition marks the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition, 1914–17. The exhibition will explore the life of the young merchant sailor who went on to achieve fame as one of the great Antarctic explorers. He was knighted, received the Polar Medal with three clasps and the Royal Geographical Society's special Gold Medal. Thirteen other nations honoured him with a total of 27 awards. The exhibition will examine his leadership in braving the extreme challenges of the Antarctic. SPRI will unveil a redesigned and expanded museum exhibition in its permanent galleries on Shackleton's life and career.
Shackleton’s Legacy: A one-day joint meeting of the South Georgia Association and Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) will explore ‘Shackleton’s Legacy’ in a series of talks and presentations. ‘Shackleton’s Legacy’ will be held at SPRI in Cambridge on November 8th. The programme of events is designed to go beyond the retelling the story of the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and will be examining instead the achievements of Shackleton and his men, and demonstrating the subsequent development in leadership skills, Antarctic science and expedition techniques.
The event is open to the general public but seating is limited to 120 so book early. Admission £25.00 includes morning coffee, buffet lunch and afternoon tea.
To see the full programme and to book click here.
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