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Panoramas Grytviken

360º-Panoramas as a Pano-Tour

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com is again ent­e­ring new ter­ri­to­ry. This time, not geo­gra­phi­cal­ly, but tech­ni­cal­ly. In ear­ly 2014, a soft­ware has been publis­hed that enab­les me to show you this gre­at vir­tu­al pan­ora­ma tour of Gryt­vi­ken, South Geor­gia (more will fol­low). A vir­tu­al walk with 7 sta­ti­ons, inclu­ding the church and an inter­ac­ti­ve muse­um visit. The who­le vir­tu­al tour con­sists of more than 20 panos, cap­tu­red in late 2013.

Have fun loo­king, we appre­cia­te your feed­back.

Pan­ora­mas Gryt­vi­ken as pan­or­amic tour

Hint

Once you have ent­e­red the vir­tu­al tour, you can eit­her use the map in the lower left cor­ner to navi­ga­te, or the bar at the bot­tom, or click on sym­bols wit­hin the panos to enter the next one (only if the next loca­ti­on is visi­ble, not always avail­ab­le). Or you can just let it run and it will auto­ma­ti­cal­ly switch to the next pano after one tur­naround. You can switch the sound off (upper right cor­ner) if you wish.
You can also view this vir­tu­al tour on iPads and other tablets if they are power­ful enough and have an up-to-date sys­tems soft­ware. On desk­top sys­tems, you can use both HTML5 or Flash.

Sta­ti­ons

  1. Ceme­tery
  2. Slossarczyk’s Cross
  3. The old wha­ling ship Petrel
  4. Workers’ accom­mo­da­ti­on
  5. Wha­ling sta­ti­on
  6. Church (incl. navigab­le inte­riors)
  7. Muse­um (incl. navigab­le muse­um tour)

Some addi­tio­nal infor­ma­ti­on about the indi­vi­du­al pla­ces:

Ceme­tery

Grytviken cemetery: Shackleton

The old ceme­ta­ry is on the wes­tern side of King Edward Cove. Most visi­tors land on the beach under the ceme­ta­ry and start their walk from the­re. Wha­ling was a dan­ge­rous busi­ness, and tho­se wha­lers – most­ly of Nor­we­gi­an ori­gin – who died during their work were buried at the ceme­ta­ry. Tog­e­ther with them rests Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton, who died of heart fail­u­re on 05th Janu­a­ry 1922 on board his ship Quest which was ancho­red at Gryt­vi­ken. His com­ra­des wan­ted to bring their for­mer Boss back to Eng­land, but his widow deci­ded that he should be buried whe­re his heart tru­ly was: in the Ant­arc­tic. So they retur­ned and Shack­le­ton was buried in Gryt­vi­ken. The litt­le pil­grimage to his gra­ve and a toast to The Boss is a tra­di­ti­on for most, if not all, visi­tors to Gryt­vi­ken.

A few years ago, Shackleton’s loy­al right hand man Frank Wild, second in com­mand during the famous Endu­ran­ce expe­di­ti­on, was laid to rest next to Shack­le­ton, his friend and Boss.

The gra­ve of the Argen­ti­ne Felix Artu­so (died 26. April 1982) reminds us that South Geor­gia was anything but a peace­ful natu­re para­di­se during the Falk­land War. This is whe­re the first shots were fired.

On the way from the shore to the ceme­ta­ry, you will pass groups of Ele­phant seals, Fur seals and you are likely to see the ende­mic South Geor­gia pin­tail. And now, as the rats are remo­ved from the area, we should soon be able to obser­ve the first South Geor­gia pipits the­re, too!

Slossarczyk’s Cross

Grytviken: Slossarczyk's cross

The­re are two white cros­ses on the green slo­pe abo­ve the ceme­ta­ry of Gryt­vi­ken. The lower one is from Novem­ber 1911 and reminds of Wal­ter Slos­s­ar­c­zyk, third mate on board the Deutsch­land, the ship of the second Ger­man south polar expe­di­ti­on led by Wil­helm Filch­ner. Slos­s­ar­c­zyk, less than 24 years old, went on a pri­va­te rowing boat excur­si­on in the evening of the 26th of Novem­ber. He would never return. The boat was found drif­ting in Cum­ber­land Bay, not far from Gryt­vi­ken, three days later by a wha­ling boat, but no sign of the man. He was never found, and his exact fate remains unknown.

His com­ra­des erec­ted the memo­ri­al cross abo­ve the ceme­ta­ry, at a place with a beau­ti­ful view over King Edward Cove.

The second cross, slight­ly hig­her up the slo­pe, is of Argen­ti­ne ori­gin and dates back to the days of the 1982 war.

The old wha­ling ship Petrel

Grytviken: whaling ship Petrel

The old wha­ling ship Petrel is beached on the shore at begin­ning of the wha­ling sta­ti­on area as you come from the ceme­ta­ry. In the days of wha­ling, dozens of lar­ge bale­en wha­les were kil­led every day from ships like this one and pul­led to the wha­ling sta­ti­ons. Today, the old har­poon points inland, it will never do any harm any­mo­re.

Workers’ accom­mo­da­ti­on

Grytviken: old workers’ accommodation

On the far side of the wha­ling sta­ti­on, the­re is an old buil­ding that used to be workers’ accom­mo­da­ti­on. Lar­sen was wise enough to build it with some safe­ty distance from his own home, the manager’s vil­la (today the muse­um). Now pen­gu­ins are kee­ping an eye on the old barack, not far from the tech­ni­cal instal­la­ti­ons used to pro­cess wha­le oil.

The wha­ling sta­ti­on

Grytviken: whaling station technical stuff

Gryt­vi­ken ist the only one of South Georgia’s wha­ling sta­ti­on that visi­tors can see from clo­se distance. The other ones are clo­sed due to the hazards of asbes­tos and col­lap­sing buil­dings, a mini­mum distance of 200 meters from land and sea is man­da­to­ry. Gryt­vi­ken is the only sta­ti­on that has gone through a tho­rough clean-up.

The modern wha­ling that was dri­ven in and from Gryt­vi­ken from the foun­ding in August 1904 went on with steam ships and explo­si­ve har­poon guns and let the wha­les litt­le chan­ces to win the fight. Every day during the sea­son as long as the wea­ther allo­wed work at sea, dozens of lar­ge bal­le­en wha­les inclu­ding Blue, Fin, Sei and Sou­thern Right wha­les were brought into the bay to be pro­ces­sed on shore. At times, the sta­ti­ons were run­ning at the edge of their capa­ci­ty.

The wha­les were pul­led up the flen­sing pla­ne to be „flen­sed“ or cut up to be boi­led into oil. Several hund­red workers lived and worked in Gryt­vi­ken, which was used from 1904 to 1965, making it both the first and the last wha­ling sta­ti­on ope­ra­ting in South Geor­gia.

The Church

Grytviken: the church

An old wha­lers’ say­ing was: „Bey­ond 40°S is no law, bey­ond 50°S is no God”. But obvious­ly, they did belie­ve even in tho­se lati­tu­des, as they built a nice woo­den church, Scan­di­na­vi­an style, in Gryt­vi­ken, on 54°S.

The old wha­ling sta­ti­ons were not made to last fore­ver: alrea­dy when he foun­ded Gryt­vi­ken in 1904, Carl Anton Lar­sen knew only too well that the wha­le popu­la­ti­ons would not stand the over-explo­ita­ti­on for more than a few deca­des at best. So it was clear that the invest­ment should not be too lar­ge. But the church is a bit dif­fe­rent than the rest. It was not just quick­ly put tog­e­ther, but built nice­ly and well in 1913, exact­ly one hund­red years ago at the time of wri­ting. It is still in good con­di­ti­on and occa­sio­nal­ly used for the ori­gi­nal pur­po­se, for examp­le at Christ­mas.

The libra­ry and Shack­le­ton memo­ri­al room

The­re are two smal­ler, sepa­ra­te rooms in the back of the church. One has the old libra­ry, still with the ori­gi­nal stock of Nor­we­gi­an books. Obvious­ly, old Lar­sen appre­cia­ted at least some edu­ca­ti­on and basic ethics amongst his work­men.

Bet­ween main church hall and libra­ry, the­re is a small room with dozens of memo­ri­al plaques hono­u­ring Shack­le­ton. They were brought to his gra­ve by many ships and sai­ling boats that have ven­tu­red the long way to South Geor­gia to make the pil­grimage to the gra­ve of the Boss. The items are then kept in the church to pro­tect them from wind and wea­ther. And bey­ond this, it would pro­bab­ly be dif­fi­cult to see anything of the gra­ve the­se days …

The Muse­um

Grytviken: museum

Today’s muse­um used to be the manager’s vil­la, in his days Carl Anton Lar­sen. Lar­sen was Cap­tain of the Ant­arc­tic, Otto Nordenskjöld’s ship during his famous ant­arc­tic expe­di­ti­on (1901-03). During this expe­di­ti­on, Lar­sen had reco­gni­zed the poten­ti­al of the South Geor­gia waters for wha­ling and he had found a sui­ta­ble natu­ral har­bour in Gryt­vi­ken (the bay is now cal­led King Edward Cove). Being the ener­ge­tic man he was, he star­ted with the new wha­ling sta­ti­on soon after his adven­tures with Nor­denskjöld, in August 1904. He knew well that the wha­ling adven­ture was a drastic over-explo­ita­ti­on of the natu­ral resour­ces of the Sou­thern Oce­an and that it was only to last a few deca­des.

The first part of the muse­um (or the last) that you may see as you visit is a smal­ler neigh­bou­ring buil­ding housing an exact repli­ca of the James Caird, the famous boat used by Shack­le­ton, Wors­ley, Crean, McNish, McCar­thy and Vin­cent from 24 April to 10 May 1916 for their legen­da­ry cros­sing of the Sou­thern Oce­an from Ele­phant Island to South Geor­gia. When you see the James Caird in Gryt­vi­ken, then you have most likely short­ly befo­re done a much fas­ter cros­sing on a much big­ger ship and yet, it may have been uncom­for­ta­ble enough. It is and will always be hard to belie­ve that Sir Ernest and his men accom­plis­hed what they did. It cer­tain­ly took them gre­at nau­ti­cal skills, cou­ra­ge, and of cour­se a lot of luck. And … endu­ran­ce.

The famous wha­ling muse­um in Gryt­vi­ken is defi­ni­te­ly amongst the most beau­ti­ful and inte­res­ting muse­ums of the sou­thern hemi­s­phe­re. It was foun­ded in their days by Nigel Bon­ner and Tim and Pau­li­ne Carr, the famous sailors and adven­tu­rers. The indi­vi­du­al exhi­bi­ti­on rooms inform about the histo­ry of South Geor­gia from sealing and wha­ling through sci­en­tic explo­ra­ti­on to … of cour­se … Shack­le­ton, and the­re is a gre­at deal about the wild­life and natu­re of the island.

The muse­um shop alway enjoys gre­at popu­la­ri­ty for several good rea­sons. Not only is it the first and last chan­ce to spend money for more time than most of us are used to. And they do have a lot of nice stuff! From T-shirts and other clot­hing with appro­pria­te moti­ves to the man­da­to­ry post­cards and other usu­al (but nice!) sou­ve­nir stuff to real­ly inte­res­ting books, maps etc. And with every purcha­se, you sup­port the South Geor­gia Heri­ta­ge Trust with its Habi­tat Restau­ra­ti­on Pro­gram­me, that is get­ting rid of the rats in South Geor­gia, giving the island back to the ori­gi­nal popu­la­ti­on of some 100 mil­li­on sea­b­irds. So, get your credit card out (yes, they do take plastic money) and buy some pres­ents!

This vir­tu­al visit is free. So is visi­t­ing the muse­um once you are the­re. But get­ting the­re isn’t, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly.

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last modification: 2018-06-03 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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