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54° 06′ S


36° 38′ W


Stromness whaling station is situated in Stromness harbour, the middle harbor of Stromness Bay. It is named after the town of Stromness in Orkney, UK, where many whalers came from. The harbor and station lie at the mouth of the huge U shaped Shackleton Valley, which has mountain ridges rising to 500 m on three sides. A waterfall fed river runs along the north west side floor of the valley. On the  south east side, are undulating slopes, roches moutonnés (domed rock outcrops formed by glaciers), and bogs, These areas are closed to visitors. Mid way along this valley is a gentoo penguin colony which can be  visited. There is a 200 m exclusion zone around the whaling station for safety reasons.


Stromness whaling Station was founded in 1907 by the Sandefjord Havalfangerskab. Initially, whales were processed by the floating factory Fridtjof Nansen II, but in 1913, the shore station was established in response to new regulations requiring that the whole of the whale be processed, which was not possible with a floating factory ship. Stromness closed as a whaling station because it could not compete with the advent of pelagic (ocean going) factory ships in the late 1920’s and the economic depression of the 1930s It was bought by Christian Salvesen, who owned neighboring Leith station, and became a catcher and factory ship repair facility.

The building which was the manager’s villa when Shackleton crossed South Georgia, is the white gable ended building to the right of the jetty with the gantry when viewed from the sea. From the late 1920’s it became the radio room and electrical store. Many of the buildings are Norwegian prefabs, and are fairly easy to dismantle and move. In the mid 1920s, the manager’s villa from the closed station at Ocean Harbour was moved to Stromness to become the station hospital. Subsequently, the hospital facilities were consolidated at the neighboring Leith Station and the Stromness hospital became a manager’s villa again. This is the large white building to the left of the jetty.


Grass (Festuca spp.), yellow grass, rushes, sedges, mosses.


Breeding and molting fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella), and aggregations of pups.

Elephant seals (Mirounga Leonina) several hundred breeding and molting.

Molting king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus).

Colony of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua).

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