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Inside the eerie sub-Antarctic abandoned whaling station where more than 175,000 whales were slaughtered (18 Pics)

  • Grytviken was founded by Norwegian Antarctic explorer Carl Anton Larsen on 16 November, 1904

  • It operated for 62 years with an estimated 175,250 whales killed and nine million barrels of oil produced

  • Today it remains open as a historical site and it is also where Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried  


  • Grytviken, a settlement on the island of South Georgia, harboured one of the first whaling stations in sub-Antarctic waters. Today the place has a sinister feel, with whale bones scattered around and giant mechanical parts rusting in the chilling winds


    The once flourishing factory was founded by Norwegian Antarctic explorer Carl Anton Larsen on 16 November 1904 for his Compania Argentina de Pesca (Argentine Fishing Company)


    Grytviken is located around 1,263 miles from Ushuaia in Argentina, which is considered the southernmost city in the world


    It remained running for 62 years with an estimated 175,250 whales killed and nine million barrels of oil produced. Above, the whale catcher Petrel, which was built in Oslo, Norway, in 1928 and armed with a harpoon gun deck 

    The factory operated during the southern summer months from October to March and a few remained over the winter to 'keep things in check', maintaining the boats and premises

    A whale on a cutting station at Grytviken, taken during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914 to 1917, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton


    There was a cinema on the site with two showings a week, a bakery, a church, food store and coffee roasting house. So workers could keep in touch with loved ones, there was also a post office, which still remains open today for tourists

    Whale oil vats and cookers now sit empty with rust coating their exteriors 


    Lurcock explained that there were about 450 workers at Grytviken in its heyday and a small farm with pigs, hens, sheep and cattle



    In the meat cookery unit large lumps of whale meat, together with the tongue and guts, were dragged up the steel ramp and onto the meat loft. They were then cut into smaller pieces by steam saws and dropped into rotating pressure cookers where the oil was extracted


    Large wheels sit motionless 
    An electrical switchboard features dozens of buttons for operating machinery

    With the commercial development of the petroleum industry and vegetable oils, the use of whale oils declined

    With the whale stocks around South Georgia almost non-existent, Grytviken closed its doors in December 1966


    Grytviken is littered with shards of whale bone and there are still many larger pieces of debris laying around


    Along with being famed for its whaling history, Grytviken is also the resting place of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton
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