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Iceberg the size of a small country on collision course with South Georgia Island

AP, November 5, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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Adolescent southern elephant seals are found on sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia, UK. media_cameraAdolescent southern elephant seals are found on sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia, UK.


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A giant iceberg the size of a small country is floating toward the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, raising fears it could indirectly endanger young wildlife.

The British Antarctic Survey said it is concerned the iceberg may run aground near the island, preventing land-based marine predators from reaching food supplies and returning to their offspring.

The giant iceberg, named A68, is about 150km long and 48km wide and has been floating north since it broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017, the Antarctic Survey said.

It is about the same size as South Georgia Island, which is currently about 500km away and looks to be in its path.

media_cameraThe European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission detected the huge chunk of ice that broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf on July 12, 2017. Picture: ESA

Professor Geraint Tarling, an ecologist* with the Antarctic Survey, said it is the time of year when seals and penguins are tending to pups and chicks. The distance penguin and seal parents have to travel to find food is important.

“If they have to do a big detour, it means they’re not going to get back to their young in time to prevent them starving to death in the interim*,” he said.

media_cameraThe illustration made when the iceberg detached from Larsen C Ice Shelf in July 2017. The outline at top right shows the country of Wales in the UK to the same scale as the newly formed iceberg (black and white photo, in the centre). Picture: AFP/Swansea University/Adrian Luckman

South Georgia, located in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is a British overseas territory.

Apart from being a base for scientific research, it is best known as being the last leg of one of history’s most famous endurance journeys.

Sir Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean became the first people to walk across the island in May 1916.

Their ship, Endurance, had sunk after becoming stuck in ice. Ten months after the ship had become stuck, Shackleton, Worsley and Crean, plus John Vincent, Timothy McCarthy and Harry McNish left the remainder of the ship’s crew on Elephant Island while they rowed 1300km in a lifeboat called the James Caird.

After they landed on South Georgia, Vincent, McCarthy and McNish waited with the lifeboat while Shackleton, Worsley and Crean walked and climbed across mountains and glaciers to the other side of the island to raise the alarm with Norwegian seamen stationed there.

The three men and the lifeboat left on the other side of South Georgia were rescued soon after. The crew left on Elephant Island were finally rescued on September 3, 1916.

Thousands of King Penguins run from katabatic winds media_cameraThousands of King Penguins march for cover of the oncoming katabatic winds on South Georgia Island. Ernest Shackleton and two crew members hiked and climbed over these mountains and glaciers to get help in 1916. Picture: iStock


  • ecologist: scientist who studies ecosystems, which are communities of living things
  • interim: in the intervening time; while something else is happening


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  1. What happened in July 2017 that is important to this story?
  2. Name two mammals that live on South Georgia Island.
  3. Why couldn’t Shackleton’s crew continue sailing their ship?
  4. What was the name of the famous lifeboat?
  5. When were the last of the Endurance crew rescued?


1. Solve the Problem
What do you think could be done to help solve the problem that the iceberg is causing for the seal and penguin parents? Write or create a plan or design that could be used to make sure that the iceberg cannot stop them from getting to feed their pups and chicks on time

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Design and Technologies

2. Extension
List all of the different personal qualities you think Ernest Shackleton and the crew who stayed on Elephant Island needed to helped them to survive their amazing and dangerous journey.

Time: allow at least 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability

I Spy Nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick 3 nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which part of this story would you like to know more about?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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