Friday, 27 December 2013

Husvik and St. Andrews Bay

We landed on the beach at the south end of the Husvik whaling site. Our first task was to organize a pathway through the fur seals that populated the beach. Once this was done we were able to walk along Husdal Creek to the reach the cemetery. As at Lieth several of our fellow travelers had relatives buried there and they and many other people paid their respects. The fencing around the cemetery at Leith was is good shape but at Husvik the fencing had been flattened at several locations, probably by some of the elephant seals that were resting inside the cemetery.

The whaling station site is a no-trespassing zone due to the deteriorating buildings and potential for asbestos inhalation. Some of us skirted the site. We stayed outside the no-trespassing perimeter posts and walked the ridges and bogs headed northward then eastward until we had a clear view of the “Karrakatta” the abandoned whale catcher boat.

In the afternoon we motored southward to Saint Andrews Bay. This east-facing bay is open to full ocean swell and we did not land here. As we cruised safely outside the breaking waves we saw tens of thousands of adult King penguins and big brown down covered chicks. Notably in our nearshore travels we did not see any of the leopard seals that prey on penguins, though the waters off this rookery would have been a feasting location for hungry leopard seals
Onshore, grazing on the grassy outwash plain behind the beach we saw 4 to 6 reindeer. As the FRAM’s Chief Officer noted “we know something the reindeer do not know” and that is soon the members of the reindeer eradication program will be working in this region to eliminate the introduced reindeer population.        

The glaciers behind St. Andrews Bay formerly reached the coastline. But now after 20 years of melting they no longer reach the coast. The present glacier front of the Cook Glacier is now several 100 meters or yards inland and a fresh water lagoon has formed in front of the glacier and behind the sand and gravel beach bar.