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During the first week of our trip, we made an exciting discovery! In one of the ponds in Maiviken Cove, we found cyanobacterial mats.

 

Maiviken is a a beautiful cove on Thather Peninsula,only a 1 hour walk away from KEP. The cyanobacterial mat were in a small pond close to the scree slopes on the eastern side of the valley. The cyanobacterial-based mats were a lot more gelatinous than, for example, mats from the McMurdo Ice Shelf, but nevertheless clearly definiable as lift-off mats of up to 1 cm thickness.

 

Back in the lab, I had a look under the microscope and the mats were comprised of various morphotypes of Oscillatoriales includig Phormidium and Leptolyngbya, the unicellular order Chroococcales as well as Nodularia, which is a genus in the nitrogen-fixing order Nostocales.

 

A few weeks later, I also found cyanobacterial mats with a similar taxa composition in apond in Hapon Bay, which is also on Thather Peninsula. This finding is interesting as there is very little know about mat-forming cyanobacteria from South Georgia. Therefore, we collected material for more detailed microscopic and DNA analyses of the cyanobacterial diversity in these mats.

IMG_8116.jpgCyanbacterial mats in Maiviken Cove

 

On Barff Peninsula, I found a meltwater stream where the cyanobacterial genus Nostoc was growing on some of the rocks. The Nostoc nodules were ca 1 cm in diameter. It was difficult to get a good image beause of the reflection of the sun in the fast flowing water.

IMG_8398.jpgNostoc in a stream on Barff Peninsula

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We arrived in King Edward Point Research Station the day after our visit to Jason Habour. It was a cloudy day and the sea was very choppy, therefore it took a while to get us off the MS Delphin into KEP’s Jet Habour Launch boats and safely back to land.

 

King Edward Point Research Station is a small station nestled just below Mount Duse in Kind Edward Point Cover, which is part of Cumberland East Bay. In summer there are usually around 20 people based including the South Georgia government officers, boat officers, engineers, a station doctor and several researchers who aremonitoringkrill and fish populations in the coastal waters of South Georgia.However, this year was a particularly busy year due to renovations of the Discovery house that was built in 1925 during the Discovery Investigations, the rat eradication program as well as a research team from National Centre for Atmospheric Research and our team.

 

The Government of South Georgia also has a fishery patrol and logistics support vessel called the MV Pharos SG, which dropped by KEP several times during our stay.

 

 

IMG_8192.jpgKing Edward Cove


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King Edward Point Research Station


IMG_8039.jpgPost office at KEP


IMG_8106.jpgMS Pharos SG

 

Grytviken is also in King Edward Point Cove, whichused to be a large whaling station. Most of the former whaling station has been removed with some structures remaining as historic site, as well as a small church. There is a nice museum documenting the whaling history of South Georgia, and displays on some of flora and fauna found in South Georgia.

 

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Grytviken


IMG_9116.jpgMuseum in Grytviken


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On the fifth day, we saw the shores of South Georgia for the first time. We had the chance to go on land first time in Stromness Harbour, which contains the ruins of one of the many former whaling stations found in South Georgia. It was a great opportunity for us to collect our first samples. We also had a chance to admire some of the wildlife, that is so common for the shores of South Georgia.

 

Stromness Harbour is also famous for its importance in the rescue of the members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ernest H. Shackleton on the Endurance. Here in Stromness Bay, Shackleton's party finally reached the first human settlementafter their 36 day crossing of South Georiga, and could organise the rescue of the rest of the expedition members from Elephant Island.


IMG_7813.jpgFirst views of South Georgia

 

IMG_7841.jpgShackleton Valley

 

IMG_7832.jpgWater sampling of astreams that is fed by several meltwater streams running of the snow covered slopes of the surrounding valley


IMG_7825.jpgRuins of whaling station and moulting king penguins


IMG_7846.jpgGentoo penguins with chicks


IMG_7856.jpgFur seals and king penguins


IMG_7855.jpgFur seal pups

 

After visiting Stromness Harbour, we also had the chance to get on shore at Jason Harbour, where we were greetedby the as usual slighty grumpy fur seals. We also saw a blonde fur seal that are seals with very pale coloured fur, apparently 1 in 1000 seals is a blonde variant.

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Jason Harbour


IMG_7986.jpg Blonde fur seal

 

We also saw some elephant seals. Many elephant seals molt during this time of the year and they love doing it by laying on top of each other in smelly mud holes, so called wallows. There were also plenty of reindeer in Jason Harbour, which were introduced to South Georgia during the whaling era.

 

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IMG_8007.jpgReindeer in Jason Harbour

 

We passed several incredible icebergs in between Stromness and Jason Harbour.


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Icebergs in coastal water of South Georgia


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South Georgia is probably one of the most remote places I have ever travelled to. First part of the journey was to fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a nice change from rainy London to sunnyBuenos Aires, Argentina. The second part of our journey was on the MS Delphinfrom Buenos Aires to South Georgia via Montevideo, Uruguay . The journey took us 6-days and it was a very pleasant way to watch wild lifeand catch up on work. From the second day onward, we frequently saw whales and abstrarosses passing the ship.

 

DSCF1143.jpgNatural History Museum, rainy January 2013


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Buenos Aires, Argentina


DSCF1247.jpgDeparture from Buenos Aires, boarding the MS Delphin


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The MS Delphin, our home for the next 6-days


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Albatross passing the ship