Two researchers, who are part of a joint Research Project by Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and the Sub-Antarctic Foundation for Ecosystems Research (SAFER) spent three weeks at South Georgia Island in November for the start of a tourism monitoring project for the South Georgia Government.
According to the official SG Homepage, the project has several objectives including providing baseline data to assist the development of Management Plans; monitoring people and wildlife interactions at a range of visitor sites and observing and recording passenger behaviour ashore (where passengers go, what they do, how they utilise interpretive materials available, etc). During this trial and evaluation phase of the project the researchers set up various forms of monitoring, including asking some tourists to wear a GPS logger whilst ashore. The data from these is downloaded and analysed to show where they went, how they moved around the site and how long they spent at various locations. Project Leader Malcolm Macfarlane was very pleased with the early results and said the first phase went better than expected. The researchers observed a range of visitor behaviour between different ship visits. A second team will arrive in January to continue with the survey, which will again include the use of questionnaires to assess visitor knowledge, expectations and satisfaction It is hoped that the project will run for up to three years. In related news November was a busy month for shipping around the Island of South Georgia. Fourteen tour ships visited, and three military vessels. The BAS research vessel "RRS James Clark Ross" (JCR) called at Bird Island and KEP for the annual base re-supply. Six yachts arrived, three of which were on charter to filming groups or mountaineering expeditions. On November 14th a storm was expected and seven yachts were in KE Cove, six of them moored three-deep at the jetty at Grytviken. HMS Iron Duke" was on patrol in South Georgia accompanied by "RFA Black Rover". HMS Endurance" was also in SG for the usual scientific research work and support tasks. This time she also included two separate film crews aboard: one making a documentary about the ship for 'Channel 5'; the other was a BBC Wildlife film crew filming footage for the "Frozen Planet" series due for broadcast in 2012. There are currently two further BBC film crews around the Island, supported by charter yacht "Golden Fleece", who are filming for the same series. The artist Rowan Huntley, a landscape painter who specialises in mountains, was also aboard HMS Endurance. She has been awarded an artist's residency funded by the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), which led to the opportunity for her to join the ship for a month.