Wednesday, 3 July 2013

South Georgia’s Passing Parade

South Georgia’s Passing Parade - King Edward Point was evacuated in late May (2013) following a “tsunami warning” received by telephone at 5am following an earthquake in the South Atlantic about 500 nautical miles east of the South Sandwich Islands and was originally reported to have measured 7.0 on the Richter scale (later downgraded to 6.6).     Due to the risk of a tsunami having been generated by the undersea earthquake, with a wave which could be expected to arrive at South Georgia just before 6am, both King Edward Point and Bird Island stations were evacuated. The 23 people stationed at King Edward Point took warm clothing and other equipment and climbed to the high ground at Hope Point. There was insufficient time to evacuate safely via Grytviken to higher ground. At Bird Island science station the evacuated personnel also climbed a nearby hill where they sat in the snow to wait for the risk to pass. Both parties had mobile satellite communications with them.       At 7.30 am the tsunami risk was judged to have passed and everyone returned to the bases. Fortunately the weather that night was calm, if cold, so the evacuated personnel were not too uncomfortable.    After the event the National Oceanography Centre analysed information from the King Edward Point tide gauge, and though there were some “noisy bits” in the graph no large changes in the sea level were recorded.

The British Antarctic Survey research vessel RRS JAMES CLARK ROSS arrived in King Edward Cove where some local staff joined the vessel before it left to conduct a fishery patrol and science cruise around the Island.    Three scientists who had been working on the vessel disembarked at King Edward Point to carry out terrestrial and intertidal science in the local area.      Visitors to South Georgia have included the Argentinian Research Vessel DR. EDUADO L. HOLMBERG which undertook a research survey in South Georgia waters (during May 2013) which was permitted by GSGSSI under the Wildlife & Protected Areas Ordinance, focused on the distribution and ecology of mackerel icefish.   GSGSSI undertook an inspection of the vessel during the survey.    The Inspectors were on board the RRS JAMES CLARK ROSS which was in the area undertaking research on benthic biodiversity and some supplementary patrolling of the South Georgia Maritime Zone.

The RRS JAMES CLARK ROSS also provided a platform for an inspection of one of the licensed longliners operating in the Maritime Zone and the entire fleet of six licenced toothfish longline fishing vessels have been fishing throughout May (2013) in the SG Fishing Zone and catches remained good throughout.

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