Monday, November 3, 2014

The ruins of Deception island

The Deception Island is an island in the South Shetland Islands archipelago off the Antarctic Peninsula. The island is the caldera of an active volcano with its waters being warmer than those in the surrounding area while its horseshoe shape provides a great shelter for ships.

For these reasons, in 1912 the Hektor Whaling Company was issued with a license to establish a shore-based whaling station, one of the many that were popping up in Antarctica. Whale oil was on high demand as it was used in oil lamps and to make soap and margarine. Approximately 150 people worked at the station during the austral summer, jamming whale carcasses into huge iron boilers to extract over 140,000 barrels of whale oil.

With the discovery of substitutes for whale oil such as kerosene and vegetable oils, the use of whale oils declined. Whale oil prices dropped during the Great Depression of the 1920s, and the factory operations were abandoned by 1931. Everything was left untouched on the island for a decade until a British warship destroyed the oil tanks and some remaining supplies in order to ensure it could not be used as a German supply base. The British finally establish a scientific base in 1944 but they had to abandon it by 1969 due to volcanic activity. 

Today, the island is a tourist destination and there are 2 summer only scientific stations, an Argentinian and a Spanish. A lot of ruins and abandoned facilities from the sealing and scientific stations of the past can still be found on the island. 


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