"Humpbacks Rebound in 20th-Century Whaling Hotspot"

"In summer, South Georgia island’s Cumberland Bay now sees whale numbers that rival the early days of whaling."

"In November 1904, Norwegian explorer Carl Anton Larsen landed in South Georgia. It was his second visit to the remote island, roughly 1,800 kilometers east of the tip of South America, where the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean boasted huge numbers of whales—and he’d returned with a whaling ship and crew to catch them.

Just a few weeks after establishing a camp in Cumberland Bay, a deep, two-pronged fjord in the rugged island, Larsen’s men killed their first humpback. So many whales foraged in the bay that the mariners didn’t need to venture to the open ocean. By mid-April 1905, they’d killed 91 whales—67 of them humpbacks.

What followed was grisly and swift. South Georgia became a whaling epicenter. Within 12 years, whalers stationed on the island had slaughtered 24,000 humpbacks. “The whalers absolutely exterminated them,” says Jennifer Jackson, a marine ecologist and whale biologist with the British Antarctic Survey."

Douglas Main reports for Hakai magazine January 8, 2024.

Source: Hakai, 01/09/2024