This film is part of Free

Shackleton South Georgia Birds

Wildlife in the remote South Atlantic, captured during the ill-fated Shackleton-Rowett Expedition

1920 13 mins Silent


Sir Ernest Shackleton is a poignant absence in this fragment from the closing chapter in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The Shackleton-Rowett Expedition and their ship the Quest docked at the old whaling station at Grytviken, South Georgia, on 4 January 1922; Shackleton died of a heart attack on board in the early hours of 5 January. These scenes of wildlife on the remote island – including skewers, fulmars, penguins and seals – were shot before the Quest departed on 18 January.

This is one of a number of reels of film shot during the expedition, which departed London on 17 September 1921. Official photographer JC Bee-Mason didn't get as far as South Georgia, however, having succumbed to bad seasickness on the small, ill-equipped Quest. He departed at Madeira, handing over filming duties to cabin mate Hubert Wilkins. Some of this material was used in the documentary Southwards on the "Quest" (1922).