Oil was extracted from the whale blubber in two rows of 12 tall pressure cookers. The strips of blubber from the flensing plant were cut into small pieces by a rotating cutter. Each cooker held about 24 tons of blubber that was cooked for about 5 hours. The oil was then pumped to the Separator Plant for purification.
The Workshops were used to maintain and repair the whale-catchers. Maintenance took place over the winter months so that the boats were ready for the time when the crews arrived for the whaling season. Originally the boats were pulled ashore by a huge winch. The floating dock that was built in 1928 unfortunately sunk. Steel plates for the hull were formed in the Platers Shop.
The whale-catcher Petrel was built in Oslo in 1928. The Petrel was one of the first whale-catcher with a catwalk so that the gunner could run from the bridge to the harpoon gun. The Petrel was converted to a sealer in 1956 and the catwalk was removed. Each summer the Petrel would visit the harbours of South Georgia and bring in seal blubber.
At times Grytviken was a very busy place, whalers, scientist, government officials and explorers all ventured into the far south of the Atlantic in pursuit of adventure, wealth or some even to flee from their homes. The graveyard shows many who have perished on the island either naturally or many due to accidents. Many nationalities of adventurous men and women found their last rest here.
The famous explorer of Antarctica whose first voyage on the Endurance to the Antarctic mainland almost ended in disaster; but due to his leadership and persistence all men were rescued, died during his second voyage to the Antarctic mainland in 1922. Upon the wish of his wive he was laid to rest here in Grytviken.
In the middle of all the activity, lazing around in the warmth of the Antarctic summer sun were these massive Elephant Seals. Only young males and females could be seen along the beach, resting in all sort of impossible positions, at times making it difficult to pass, if one would not want to get too close and attacked by tons of blubber.
But not all were resting, these two young fur seals took up a challenge to fight each other, common seen with younger male seals to gain strength for times when one would have to defend or claim a harem of female seals.
Walking around the grass close to Grytviken one had to be careful not to step onto the seals or come to close to them. When one was watching the one, suddenly a bark would come from the other side, one hiding right in the grass. All relaxing in the sun before departing onto the hunt again.
Along the beach I only spotted two Gentoo Penguins that kept a distance from both humans as well as the King Penguins, Fur and Elephant Seals on the island. Not sure if they were lost, but as soon as they realized they had been seen, they returned back into the ocean.
Scattered all across the beach one can find the majestic King Penguins resting and warming themselves in the sun. It is an amazing sight to see them just standing there without any fear of the approaching human "invaders".
The Harpon and Tijuca Jetties were named after two transport ships. Harpon was a steamer that sailed regularly between South Georgia and Europe 1923 - 1957 and Tijuca was an iron three masted sailing ship which carried whale oil between Grytviken and Buenos Aires from 1907 to 1942.
Still today one can find whale bones scattered along the beach, memories of a time before 1964 when whales in the thousands were killed and processed here. These bones are right next to the meat processing plant.
One of the items displayed outside the museum was this whale claw. It was first used in the 1932/1933 season and was able to pull whales of 100 tons. The use was to drag whales, tail first, up the stern ramps of whaling ships. The whale claw weighs 1.5 tons.
Outside the museum one can find various items that were used during the whaling times. Some items were removed from the whaling vessels and give a good indication of what techniques were used to catch the whales.
Visitors to the museum can view a display of the expeditions of Sir Shackleton including the amazing voyage onboard the Endurance, where Shackleton and his men got stuck in the ice of Antarctica and with the charisma and endurance of Shackleton all men were rescued.