Archive for Fauklands War
www.independent.co.uk 27th May 2011
A small island just 600 km away from the Antarctic Peninsula has been comprehensively studied for the first time by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Previously thought to be an “inhospitable lump of rock”, the island of South Georgia has now shown scientists (the only human inhabitants on the isle) the opposite. The survey recorded 1,445 species, many of which are unique to the island. Species include sea spiders, free-swimming worms, fish, and crustaceans. Many types of whale frequent the waters there including the blue, sperm, and killer. It is also the most important nesting ground for the King Penguin. In fact, divers from the BAS found so many types of sea-life in South Georgian waters that they still haven’t worked through all the samples. The rich biodiversity of the region has been put down to several factors including the remoteness of the island and lack of human contact. Its position beside currents that are rich in nutrients also helps sustain the diverse wildlife. Oliver Hogg, a marine ecologist with the BAS, said: “One of the reasons it’s so rich is, we suspect, that it’s a really old island. It separated from the continental land mass of South America and Antarctica about 45 million years ago so it’s had a lot of time to evolve new species and develop a really diverse ecosystem.” Warming waters though, at least in part explainable by climate change, may have a negative impact on the island’s inhabitants. ‘In the period 1925 to 2006 sea temperatures in the region rose on average by 0.9C in January and 2.3C in August in the 100 metres of water nearest the surface.’ South Georgia has been in British hands since 1775 when Captain James Cook laid claim to it, although it was briefly taken by Argentina in 1982 during the Fauklands war.