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Conserving the oldest historic sites in the Antarctic: the challenges in managing the sealing sites in the South Shetland Islands

  • Michael Pearson (a1), Ruben Stehberg (a2), Andrés Zarankín (a3), M. Ximena Senatore (a4) and Carolina Gatica (a5)...

The fur seal population of the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, was intensively hunted by sealers from the discovery of the islands in 1819 to the early 1820s, by which time the seal numbers were so depleted that sealing became uneconomic. Sealing was revived for both fur seals and elephant seals at several periods later in the century. Sealers were put ashore in gangs and built makeshift shelters in which to live, and also occupied caves. Many of these have been identified on the various islands of the South Shetlands, and a number have been excavated. The paper addresses some of the management issues facing the conservation of these sites, which include accelerating tourism, disturbance by scientific researchers, disturbance by animal activity, burial or erosion by drifting sand, and climate change.

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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
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