Paulet Island (63°35'S, 55°47'W) - landscape in conflict of tourism with conservation of nature and historical monuments

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Paulet Island is a roughly circular islet with about 3 km diameter in the north-western Weddell Sea. It is a volcanic crater island with a lake which is about 500 m long and a conic summit rising an elevation of 385 m. Major nesting places of sea birds are situated on the northern scree slopes of the island. The huge rookery of 95,000 105,000 pairs of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) is the second largest of this species in the area of the Antarctic Peninsula. The population of Blue-eyed Shags (Phalacrocorax atriceps) with about 400 nests is one of the largest in the Peninsula as well; Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea), Wilson's Storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) and Pale-faced Sheathbill (Chionis alba) are also breed. Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) is a regular visitor. More than 1000 Weddell (Leptonychotes weddelli) and Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) haul-out on the shoreline each year.Paulet Island was discovered by the British Antarctic expedition (1839-43) led by James Clarke Ross and was named by him after a captain in the British Royal Navy. In February 1903 'Antarctic', the relief ship of Otto Nordenskjöld's Swedish Antarctic expedition was crushed by the ice of the Weddell Sea and sank. The ship's crew of 20 managed to get ashore on Paulet Island and erected a stone hut in order to survive the Antarctic winter. This hut is also called Larsen's hut after the commander of the ship captain C.A. Larson. Remains of the building are still evident and they attract together with the penguin colony yearly up to 5,000 tourists from cruise vessels.The hut is halfway between landing beach and lake on the northern shoreline amidst the colony of Adélie penguins. Visitors in guided groups can reach it with minimized disruptions of wildlife on the direct way. Presumably in 2003 the hut was enclosed by Argentines (?) with prefabricated segments of fences to keep away both tourists and penguins. In January 2005 only 2 segments were found standing with information boards on it. These were placed in such a way, that tourists can read the information only standing in between the nests of the penguins. Trying to avoid this by staying on the other side people risk to damage the historical remains of the hut¡Çs walls consisting of stones and penguin guano. Unused metallic fence segments lying around create a harm risk for people and penguins.A solution of the problem could be to install information boards separately on a proper place and to enclose the hut by a chain similar as used to fence the 2nd hut of the Swedish Antarctic expedition (1901-03) on Esperanza. The existing fence segments are unsuitable.

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Conference (Poster)
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Poster, 22. Internationale Polartagung, 18-24 Sept., Jena, Germany..
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Fritzsche, D. (2005): Paulet Island (63°35'S, 55°47'W) - landscape in conflict of tourism with conservation of nature and historical monuments , Poster, 22. Internationale Polartagung, 18-24 Sept., Jena, Germany. .

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