Whaling in the South Orkneys began in January 1912, when the Norwegian company Aktieselskabet Rethval deployed the factory ship Falkland at Powell Island. The captain who took the first whale, Petter Sørlle, surveyed the South Orkneys in 1912–13 and named Signy Island after his wife.
Floating factory ships visited the archipelago until 1914–15, and then again from 1920–30. Tioga, the first ship to undertake open-ocean whaling in Antarctica, was wrecked at Signy in 1913. A Norwegian shore station opened on Signy in 1920–21.
The shore station at Signy took the skrotts (stripped carcasses) cast off by the floating factories and extracted the remaining oil (60% of a whale’s oil is in its meat and bones), and made meat and bone meal.