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25 December 2012 / leggypeggy

Whalers Bay in Deception Island—our last landing in Antarctica

Hangar, Whalers Bay, Antarctica

Old hangar at Whalers Bay

You’ve already had a quick glimpse of Whalers Bay in the South Shetland Islands. That’s where the intrepid Olivia did her Polar Plunge into icy waters.

But on our last morning in Antarctica, we had a nice long stop in the bay, which is surrounded by Deception Island, so we could explore the now-abandoned British Base B.

Its name gives away it original purpose—Whalers Bay started as a Norwegian whaling station in 1911. It fulfilled that role for 20 years, until whale oil prices petered out.


Krill in Whalers Bay

Whalers Bay, Deception Island

Birds feed on krill swept into Whalers Bay

Thirteen years later, in 1944, the British Royal Navy established Base B there as part of their wartime expedition known as ‘Operation Tabarin’.  After the war, it became a scientific research station.

This operated continuously until December 1967, when a volcanic eruption caused it to be evacuated for a year. It reopened towards the end of 1968 and then closed permanently three months later when mud-flow from another eruption destroyed most of the buildings.

The site was ‘cleaned up’ in the early 1990s, with fuel, batteries, hazardous waste and general debris were removed, but the buildings remain and there’s still a lot to see. including a variety of old whaling equipment, a hangar and the graveyard.

One of the biggest treats for us was seeing hundreds of birds having a krill-feeding feast. Something had swept thousands (perhaps millions) of krill into the bay and the birds had followed. Chris, the ornithologist on our trip, said he had never seen anything like it. All he could do was grin and snap photo after photo.

Whalers Bay, Deception Island

Some of the remnants of the whaling station

Whalers Bay, Deception Island

A last resting place in Whalers Bay

There were more visitors than birds and krill, with a British Naval ship and another ship from Ushuaia also anchored there.

After we landed, a small boat from the British ship came to shore. Those on board interviewed some of our passengers to determine whether we had been ‘properly schooled’ on the etiquette and behaviour that rules in Antarctica—we had.

As an aside, Deception Island, which is horseshow-shaped, is also the place from where the Antarctic Peninsula was first sighted.

We were there on a clear day, and Poor John spotted it too, and pointed it out to Wolfgang, one of the crew.  At first, Wolfgang thought it was just an iceberg but then, with a help of binoculars, confirmed that Poor John was right.

After our landing, we had our last Zodiac cruise for this trip to the Antarctic. Then we were heading ‘home’  half a day early because a passenger needed medical attention that was not available aboard ship.


Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Dec 25 2012 10:40 am

    Hi Peggy,
    Like everything you’ve seen in Antarctica, this too is amazing. Thank you too, yet again, for such great photos.


    • leggypeggy / Dec 25 2012 9:11 pm

      It was a fascinating stop. Glad you enjoyed it too. 🙂


  2. Nancy J / Sep 25 2016 2:59 pm

    You certainly are adventurers! The photos are great. Love the penguins. ❤ Thank you for sharing the story. Intriguing. I have always been curious about the chilly south Antarctica and anywhere you can see the Northern Lights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 25 2016 5:26 pm

      Thanks so much. We were thrilled to have the chance to go to Antarctica. Then earlier this year we saw the Northern Lights while in Alaska.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nancy J / Sep 26 2016 2:16 pm

        How wonderful! I think I saw Alaska on your blog. I am going to check it out,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nancy J / Sep 26 2016 2:18 pm

        Oh, I don’t see any photos from Alaska. Can you post some?

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 26 2016 2:25 pm

        Try the menu on the right. Scroll down to United States and click on Alaska. I still have more to post, but it’s a start.


  3. jeanleesworld / Dec 30 2021 12:15 am

    What a curious place! It feels like the buildings themselves have joined the graveyard…

    Liked by 1 person

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