Antarctica's Whalers Bay on Deception Island, Antarctica
Deception Island is an island in South Shetland off the Antarctic Peninsula, which has one of the safest harbours in Antarctica. The island is the caldera of an active volcano, which caused serious damage to the local scientific stations in 1967 and 1969. The island previously held a whaling station; it is now a tourist destination and scientific outpost, with research bases being run by Argentina and Spain. Various countries have previously asserted sovereignty, but it is now administered under the Antarctic Treaty System.
Since the early 19th century, Deception Island was a favourite refuge area from the storms and icebergs of Antarctica. It was first used by sealers. In 1829, the British Naval Expedition to the South Atlantic under the command of Captain Henry Foster stopped at Deception Island, conducted a topographic survey and some scientific experiments there, particularly pendulum and magnetic observations. In 1906, a Norwegian-Chilean whaling company started using Whalers Bay as a base for a factory ship, the Gobernador Bories. Other whaling operations followed suit, and by 1914 there were 13 factory ships based there.
The station did not actually process whale blubber, which was done on the ships, but instead took the carcasses and boiled them down to extract additional whale oil, using large iron boilers, and storing the results in iron tanks.
Whale oil prices dropped during the Great Depression, making the station economically unprofitable, thus it was abandoned in 1931. Advances in factory ships made shore stations for carcass processing unnecessary, and so it was never reoccupied. Forty-five men were buried in the station's cemetery, but the cemetery was again buried in a 1969 volcano eruption, and the only remaining signs are the rusting boilers and tanks.
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