PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release: 10 July 2024

A Scottish charity and committed polar cruise ship operator join forces to boost vital conservation efforts on the island of South Georgia

A new partnership between Dundee-based charity the South Georgia Heritage Trust and Poseidon Expeditions will enable those on a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica to help fund vital wildlife and cultural conservation on the island of South Georgia.

Since its founding in 1999, Poseidon Expeditions has taken thousands of intrepid travellers to the most remote corners on earth. Now, Poseidon Expeditions will donate £100 to the South Georgia Heritage Trust every time a new passenger books a cruise featuring South Georgia, which will help fund SGHT’s ongoing conservation work on the island.

Poseidon Expedition’s Sea Spirit during a cruise to South Georgia and Antarctica.
Credit Piet van den Bemd. [High-res versions, and others, are available]

The sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia is famed for its iconic wildlife, with scenes of humpback whales, southern elephant seals, seabirds and vast colonies of king penguins often featuring in landmark series such as the BBC’s Frozen Planet, Blue Planet and Planet Earth. It is also synonymous with world-famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who died on South Georgia in 1922 and is buried in Grytviken Cemetery.

The South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) has been working to conserve South Georgia’s wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage since 2005. The charity delivered the world’s largest rodent eradication project, which against all odds successfully removed invasive rats and mice (accidentally introduced by whalers 200 years ago) which were predating the eggs and chicks of millions of native birds and had almost pushed one species, the South Georgia pipit, to extinction. Since the island was declared rodent-free in May 2018, SGHT has been supporting ongoing efforts by the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to make sure that South Georgia’s 10-15,000 annual visitors don’t inadvertently undo this amazing feat and that South Georgia remains an ecosystem in recovery.

Luke Smith, Director of Development at the South Georgia Heritage Trust said: “We’ve had unprecedented success in removing the invasive rodents that were decimating South Georgia’s native bird populations, but as a small charity we need as much support as possible for our work to continue and grow. Donations from Poseidon Expeditions will enable us to further protect and preserve the island’s special environment and wildlife for future generations through conservation work.

“This support will also contribute towards scientific research, help run the South Georgia Museum, and deliver major cultural projects on or related to the island, such as saving Shackleton’s heritage at Stromness and a major art installation which will act as a whale memorial at Grytviken. We are extremely grateful for Poseidon Expeditions’ generosity, and we are very much looking forward to working together for the benefit of South Georgia, and all its beauty.”

The company’s chief executive officer, Angelica Vorea, said: “Poseidon Expeditions has been committed to safe and environmentally responsible exploration of the polar regions since 1999. We are privileged to bring visitors from all over the world to encounter the wonders of South Georgia and the wider Antarctic region. We know how much our guests value the opportunities they have to experience such sights and we are delighted to have teamed up with SGHT in this way so that our company can contribute to their important mission.”

The small British Overseas Territory of South Georgia lies 1,500km east of the Falkland Islands, and is home to the South Georgia Museum which SGHT runs on behalf of the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

To find out more about the work of SGHT and its ongoing work to protect the wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage of South Georgia visit: www.sght.org, and to find out more about Poseidon Expeditions visit www.poseidonexpeditions.com

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For high-res images and footage, or to arrange interviews or for more information, please contact the Culture Communications Collective:

Notes to Editors

Available for interview

  • Luke Smith, Director of Development, South Georgia Heritage Trust
  • Angelica Vorea, CEO, Poseidon Expeditions

About the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT)

  • SGHT was founded in 2005 to help preserve the sub-Antarctic island’s natural, human and cultural heritage; raise awareness of the island’s endangered flora and fauna through research and public engagement and manage practical conservation programmes to protect native species.
  • SGHT and its USA counterpart Friends of South Georgia Island (FOSGI) work closely with the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Island (GSGSSI).
  • In 2018, Scottish-based charity the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the GSGSSI officially declared the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia free of rodents for the first time since humans arrived on the island over 200 years ago, following a decade-long rodent eradication programme carried out by SGHT.
  • SGHT and FOSGI raised £10 million to finance the Habitat Restoration Project to eradicate invasive rodents.
  • Covering 108,723 hectares (1087 km2), the Habitat Restoration Project is more than eight times larger than any other rodent eradication area ever tackled anywhere in the world.
  • The legacy of this Habitat Restoration Project is maintaining the rodent free status.  Fundraising by SGHT and FOSGI contributes to the work of Samuri (Sammy), Hunter and King the sniffer dogs and a permanent GSGSSI rodent detector dog team, a £90,000 a year programme run by the GSGSSI.
  • This globally significant rodent eradication was dependent on the completion of the GSGSSI project to eradicate reindeer from South Georgia (another human-introduced species). The removal of reindeer and improving bird numbers have contributed to a resurgence in invasive plant species. The GSGSSI has recently recommitted to a £250,000 programme of invasive plant management.
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is one of the UK’s most remote and environmentally pristine Overseas Territories and is administered by the GSGSSI. It is internationally recognised for its biological importance, including its biodiversity, breeding populations of seabirds and marine mammals and has featured in BBC series such as Frozen Planet, Frozen Planet II, Blue Planet and Planet Earth.
  • SGHT manages and operates the South Georgia Museum on behalf of the GSGSSI. Visit: https://sgmuseum.gs/
  • SGHT has a YouTube account full of engaging videos about the island and its wildlife. Visit: https://bit.ly/3MnePJC

 

About the South Georgia Museum

  • For further information visit: https://sgmuseum.gs/
  • The museum is located in Grytviken, a former whaling station. The museum is housed in a heritage building, once the whaling station manager’s villa.
  • The South Georgia Museum was opened to visitors in 1992.
  • In 2006 South Georgia Heritage Trust took over the management of the museum.

About Poseidon Expeditions

  • During the past 25 years, Poseidon Expeditions has been organizing exclusive expedition cruises to the world’s polar regions: the Arctic and Antarctica. The company advocates for the small ship concept: the Sea Spirit is highly manoeuvrable and capable of navigating the narrow fjords and entering the small bays of South Georgia, as well as allowing approximately 100 guests to have maximum time ashore in Antarctica, where no more than one hundred guests can land at one site at the same time.
  • Each expedition is a unique and life-changing experience for travellers: observing polar bears or penguins in their natural habitats, kayaking in secluded coves scattered with sea ice, camping overnight in Antarctica, or experiencing the northern lights. All of this comes under the guidance of seasoned expedition staff whose expertise in marine biology, glaciology, polar history, and other relevant topics provides an educational framework for guests.
  • To find out more, visit www.poseidonexpeditions.com