The unique ecosystem of South Georgia island  •

The unique ecosystem of South Georgia island 

Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features a Copernicus Sentinel-2 photograph of South Georgia, a remote and rugged island located in the southern Atlantic Ocean. 

“Linked with the South Sandwich Islands to form a British Overseas Territory, this southern Atlantic island is a haven for a vast array of wildlife,” said ESA.

“Around five million seals call the islands home, as well as 65 million birds of 30 different species. Migrating whales and various fish species populate the surrounding waters and there is a large penguin population.”

South Georgia is mountainous and largely covered in glaciers. The island has no native trees and features a tundra climate.

The island is historically significant for several reasons, most notably its association with the British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. 

After his ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea in 1915, Shackleton and five crew members sailed over 800 miles in a small boat to South Georgia, where they then trekked across the island’s rugged terrain to seek help at a whaling station.

The island was once a center for whaling and sealing, but these industries have long since ceased. Today, the economy is driven by fishing licenses, tourism, and the British Antarctic Survey, which has a research base on the island.

There are no permanent residents on the island, and it can only be accessed by sea, primarily through expedition cruises.

Due to its unique ecosystem, there are conservation efforts in place to protect the wildlife and environment of South Georgia. For example, efforts have been made to eradicate invasive species like rats that threatened the native bird populations.

Image Credit: ESA

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