‘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.

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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:

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

Online SGA Talk – 18 November 2021 – Saving Ocean Wanderers

The South Georgia Association is pleased to present another online talk on Thursday 18 November 2021.

Who and What:

Saving Ocean Wanderers – why Japan is important in the fight to save South Georgia albatross, with Steph Prince and Yasuko Suzuki.

Richard Phillips, Seabird Foodweb Ecologist at the British Antarctic Survey will compere and ask your questions.

Steph Prince is the High Seas Programme Manager for the BirdLife Marine Programme, leading projects to reduce seabird bycatch in global tuna fisheries around the world. She was previously a Zoological Field Assistant for the British Antarctic Survey, wintering at both Bird Island and King Edward Point.

Yasuko Suzuki is the Japan Marine Programme Office for BirdLife International, leading engagement work with the Japanese fishing industry, government, the tuna supply chain and the Japanese public to reduce seabird bycatch in distant water High Seas fleets.

Despite protections being put in place to stop albatrosses and other seabirds being accidentally killed in South Georgia waters in the early 2000’s, albatross populations continue to decline to this day. Since 2004 BirdLife International have been working to reduce albatross bycatch on the High Seas, where less protection for seabirds has been in place. Tracking studies have shown where conservation efforts need to be concentrated, and which fleets pose the greatest risk. Japan is one of the countries that has the potential to make the biggest difference to albatross conservation and so Yasuko is working to engage the fishing industry and public to make the oceans safer for South Georgia albatross.

The SGA supported this project with our Initiative Fund. More details HERE.

Where: The Comfort of your own Home, via Zoom

When: 1930 GMT on Thursday 18 November 2021

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.

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Cover of the GSGSSI Protect Sustain Inspire Document 2021

GSGSSI Consultation: Developing Criteria for Monitoring the Implementation of the ‘Protect Sustain Inspire’ five-year plan.

UPDATE: The Deadline has been extended to 24 November 2021.

South Georgia’s government (GSGSSI) recently published ‘Protect, Sustain, Inspire’ (PSI), their five-year framework for managing the territory over the next few years. They are now developing a system of Milestones and Success Criteria, by which their progress in implementing the aims of the framework can be gauged.

GSGSSI have published a four-page document describing a preliminary set of milestones they have identified, and inviting your views on other milestones that might be appropriate, and their relative priorities, or indeed any of their milestones that might not be appropriate. Deadline for submission via the online form is 24 November 2021 (extended from 12 November).

to see the PSI document, the consultation document, and to take part in the online survey on the GSGSSI website.

GSGSSI Consultation: Developing Criteria for Monitoring the Implementation of the ‘Protect Sustain Inspire’ five-year plan. Read More »

Pathway to Protection – GSGSSI Announces Terrestrial Protected Area Management.

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has released details of its strategy for managing the territory under the banner ‘Pathway to Protection’.

This will be a two-phased approach, involving the declaration of Terrestrial Protected Areas, and will treat two areas differently.

South Georgia and its surrounding islands will be managed so as to balance access with protection, very much along the lines of what already happens. The South Sandwich Islands will be closed to visitors, although there are already very few anyway, to preserve its even more unspoilt nature.

The Pathway to protection will be implemented in two phases. In phase I, the South Sandwich Islands will be closed to most visitors, and South Georgia will carry on much in the way it already does. Phase II will consist of information gathering and consultation, to gather the information needed to determine the need for, and the methods of implementing, more localised management plans.

An advisory group will be convened to help with this, including, we hope, representatives of the South Georgia Association.

Pathway to Protection – GSGSSI Announces Terrestrial Protected Area Management. Read More »

Online SGA Talk – 12 August 2021 – The Shackleton Crossing by a Repeat Offender

The South Georgia Association is pleased to present another online talk on Thursday 12 August 2021.

Who and What:

The Shackleton Crossing by a Repeat Offender: Since taking part in the IMAX film ‘Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure’ in 2000, Stephen Venables has followed Shackleton’s route from King Haakon Bay to Stromness no less than four times, with a fifth crossing scheduled for 2022. He will describe the route and some of the peaks he has climbed along the way. His pictures will also highlight drastic changes to the landscape since 1916.

The Crossing in its setting: Following Stephen’s graphic description of following in Shackleton’s footsteps, Bob Burton will describe the hazardous arrival of the crew of the James Caird at South Georgia and their landing in Cave Cove. He will then take up the story again as Shackleton, Worsley and Crean arrive at Stromness and recover from their ordeal.

Where: The Comfort of your own Home, via Zoom

When: 1930 BST (1830 GMT/UTC) on Thursday 12 August 2021

Cost: Free

Registration Details have been sent by email to SGA members. If you have not received that, you can click this button.

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