The factory ship Jan Wellem at anchor in Grytviken,
South Georgia with catcher boats alongside
South Georgia was a major centre for whaling from
the earliest days that whaling was carried out in Antarctica from shore
stations having a number of large settlements on its coasts run by whaling
companies where the catches of locally caught whales were processed.
As the 20th century progressed and particularly as the factory ship
became used more and more, so South Georgia's light faded somewhat.
This was in no small part due to the fact that the waters around South
Georgia itself had been so extensively fished of whales that there just
weren't so many around.
As well as having a series of whaling stations, South
Georgia was often a stop-off point for pelagic whaling fleets as the
last chance to easily top up with fresh water. Emergency supplies might
also be had there if they were spare. Sometimes it was used a place
for repairs due to its calm bays, milder climate than the deep Antarctic
waters and the more extensive shore-based engineering facilities compared
to what was available on ship.
This factory ship and her fleet of eight catchers
took 920 whales so producing 62,000 barrels of whale oil in this 1936/37