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‘SG Then and Now’ Talk is Online

The SGA Online Talk of 22 April 2022, “South Georgia Then and Now – 1982 And All That” with Bob Headland, Pat Lurcock, and Jamie Coleman can now be seen on our YouTube channel. You can see this, and our previous talks, on the SGA Video Recordings page via the Resources menu on our website.

Delivering PSI Published

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) have published details of the programme that will implement the ‘Protect, Sustain, Inspire’ approach to managing the territory.

Spring Meeting Cancelled

We regret to announce that our proposed spring meeting on HQS Wellington on 6 May has not had sufficient interest to go ahead so, sadly, we have had to cancel. We hope to see you in person a little later on some time.

Morag Husband Campbell Medal 2022 Awarded to Tony Martin

The South Georgia Association is delighted to announce the award for the Morag Husband Campbell Medal for 2022 to Professor Tony Martin, “in recognition of his outstanding and dedicated contributions to South Georgia – in particular his pivotal role in the South Georgia Heritage Trust Habitat Restoration Programme of the Island and as a consequence promoting a wider appreciation of these islands”

Online SGA Talk – 22 April 2022 – Then and Now

The South Georgia Association is pleased to present another online talk on Friday 22 April 2022.

Who and What: Then and Now, with Bob Headland, Pat Lurcock and Jamie Coleman.

Recollections of life at King Edward Point by people who were there at the time of the invasion in 1982, when the military garrison was replaced by the applied fisheries research laboratory in 2001 and during the latest summer season 2021 to 2022. Bob Headland, Pat Lurcock and Jamie Coleman will present their memories of past and recollections of recent events illustrated by contemporary photographs.

Where: The Comfort of your own Home, via Zoom

When: 1930 on Friday 22 April 2022 (1830 GMT for overseas viewers)

Cost: Free

CANCELLED: SGA Annual Spring Meeting – 6 May 2022

We regret that we have had to cancel the spring meeting on HQS Wellington as there was not enough interest. If you have already paid, we will contact you directly to arrange a refund.

After a two-year hiatus the 2022 Spring Meeting of the South Georgia Association will be held on board HQS Wellington, on London’s Victoria Embankment, on Friday 6 May 2022 at 4.30 PM.

Whaling Talk is Online

The SGA Online Talk of 24 February 2022, Whaling on South Georgia with John Alexander, was attended by about 400 Zoom viewers. If you missed it, you can catch up on our YouTube channel. You can see this, and our previous talks, on the SGA Video Recordings page via the Resources menu on our website.

Frank Hurley's CLassic Grytviken Panorame

RGS Shackleton’s Legacy Exhibition is Open

The Royal Geographic Society in London are currently holding an exhibition – Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography – that is now open until 4 May. It is free.

The South Georgia Association supported the creation of this exhibition, so do go along and see how it looks.

Online SGA Talk – 24 February 2022 – Whaling on South Georgia

The South Georgia Association is pleased to present another online talk on Thursday 24 February 2022.

Who and What: Whaling on South Georgia, with John Alexander, hosted by the SGA’s Dr Martin Collins.

A talk by a man who was there, illustrated with his own photographs 

John Alexander was an electrician with Christian Salvesen arriving at Leith Harbour in September 1954 and overwintering.  He returned in September 1956 and overwintered again.  He then spent the 1958-1959 season on Southern Harvester and the 1959-1960 season on Southern Venturer.  His last season was back in Leith Harbour, arriving in September 1960 as an Asdic electrician.  Much later he returned to South Georgia in 2009 on Skip Novak’s Pelagic Australis.

Where: The Comfort of your own Home, via Zoom

When: 1930 GMT on Thursday 24 February 2022

Cost: Free

Registration Details will be distributed to members by email nearer the time, after which they will be posted here and on our FaceBook page.

Robert Wellesley ‘Bob’ Burton (1941 – 2022) – Obituary (updated 13 Feb 22)

It is with great sadness, that the South Georgia Association announces the passing of our wonderful colleague and friend, Bob Burton. He was a founding member of the SGA, serving on the committee for over 20 years from its inception until his death on 15 January 2022.

Bob was a generous, immensely knowledgeable person; full of vitality and ever ready to engage you in his activities involving the environment, heritage, wildlife, conservation and the South Atlantic region, to which he contributed in many diverse ways. He always made time to help anybody with his knowledge of places, wildlife, and history. If he could not help, he would usually point you at the expert who could. An information magpie, he would gather histories, photographs and documents, share them willingly, and thus contribute to the benefit of all.

In his ‘pre-South Georgia’ life, he graduated in Zoology from Cambridge University before studying grey seals in the Outer Hebrides.

He first visited South Georgia in 1964 during a posting to Signy Island in the South Orkneys. Soon afterwards, in 1971-72, he was part of the team initiating a new programme of research on fur seals and albatrosses at Bird Island. Afterwards he was to travel widely, including to the Arctic and across deserts.

Bob was involved in the South Georgia Museum at an early stage, becoming its Director in 1994. During his four-year tenure, the Norwegian Church at Grytviken was fully restored. With little in the way of resources, his important work consolidated that started by others such as Nigel Bonner and Ian Hart. In the late 1990s he organised and coordinated a three-month restoration project of the cemeteries in the Stromness Bay whaling stations.

He had a wonderful gift of communication: As a writer, he edited and wrote extensively about South Georgia, including the South Georgia Government booklet for visitors, and ‘A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia’. He contributed several essays to the ‘Dictionary of Falklands Biography’, including the one on Sir Ernest Shackleton, about whom he was an expert. And of course, he wrote, collated and edited the SGA’s own newsletter for many years. A mark of his breadth of interest beyond the polar sphere is that he also wrote accessible books on wider nature, including popular guides to garden birds. He contributed to a number of publications including the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Nature Notes’ series, and contributed to many encyclopaedias. There is not room here to even start to list the books that he wrote.

More recently, he was passionately involved in the archaeological investigations in South Georgia and the continuing conservation of its heritage. His wide interest in more than the mainstream aspects of the island’s history, such as Shackleton and whaling stations, placed him in an excellent position for this. As well as masterminding the recent Cambridge University expedition to investigate the island’s sealing sites, he has researched a plethora of minor finds such as the Zenker Ridge stone hut remains, a stone circle in Bore Valley, Hudson’s beacons in the approaches to Grytviken (set up by Shackleton’s team as an aid to calibrating ships’ compasses), and the historic huts. It seemed he could not sit still without investigating and publishing another interesting paper. This wide and deep interest made Bob a valuable member of the South Georgia Government’s Heritage Advisory Panel.

As a presenter, he was able to capture your attention with his stories, anecdotes, and vast knowledge. He was a regular expedition guide and lecturer on cruise ships, where his gentle and genial demeanour earned him the sobriquet ‘Lord Burton’ among staff. During the pandemic, he was one of the main contributors to the SGA’s online talks helping us reach out to a global audience.

Two placenames have been dedicated to him. In 1977 Burton Cove on the southwestern corner of Bird Island was named after him, and just recently the Burton Glacier on Elephant Island, where Shackleton’s party of 22 awaited his rescue attempts; how fitting that he should be associated with such a historic place.

Robert ‘Bob’ Burton explores the Burton Glacier on Elephant Island that is named after him. Tourists on a cruise ship look on.

In 1996, Bob was awarded the Polar Medal for services as Meteorologist, Biological Assistant and Museum Curator and in 2018, he received the SGA’s Morag Husband Campbell Medal ‘for outstanding contributions to the study and conservation of wildlife and the heritage of South Georgia’. He said of the award:

“I am lucky to have been one of many people involved with South Georgia – putting it on the map, so to speak – in recent years. When I first visited the island in 1964, it was Terra Incognita to most people. Nowadays, it has become familiar through television programmes about its spectacular and profuse wildlife, and through the interest in the explorer Ernest Shackleton. Now, its importance in global ecology is being recognised.”

South Georgia has lost a wonderful advocate, and we have lost a kind, enthusiastic, passionate friend. We will miss him.

There is an obituary in the Daily Telegraph, sadly behind a paywall:

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