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Factory Ship and catcher boats - Whales and Whaling pictures 54

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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 season.

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