National Geographic : 2009 Dec
is just a dimly glowing patch of cloud across which flurries of snowflakes swirl and eddy, dark patterns against the glow. South Georgia su ers from a meteorological version of bi- polar disorder. e third paradox is historical. In bay a er bay the backdrop is pristine---the trackless peaks, snows, and glaciers that form the spine of the island---while the foreground is tarnished by the wreckage of a whaling station, one ruin a er another, rusting away above a pebbly beach reclaimed by penguins and seals. South Geor- gia is a virgin wilderness that lost its virginity shadow passes over the land. You sail into a bay in bright sunshine and air scrubbed clean by the ceaseless circumpolar wind. You really can see forever. e steep headlands are an intense, im- probable green. Depth of eld is in nite, from the kelp beds in the foreground to the snows of the peaks beyond. A glacier, cradled in its high cirque, sends a skein of streams down the rock wall, icy rivulets glittering so bright they hurt the eyes. en, moments later, like Dorothy whirled back to Kansas, you look out on that same emerald Oz rendered suddenly in gray hal ones. A new front has blown in. e sun The wreck of the catcher boat Petrel lies stranded at the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken. Petrel and her sisters did their work too well, depleting some whale species and nearly exterminating the blue. By the 1960s there was little left to hunt.