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Natural Wonders of the Polar Regions
Arctic
Antarctic
The Polar Plateau
Mount Erebus
Antarctic Sea Ice
Dry Valleys
Antarctic Peninsula

 

 

 

 

Bouvet Island
Southern Ocean
Earth's Natural Wonders in the Polar Regions
Area of Bouvet Island: 23 square miles (960 sq.km)
Highest Point: 3,068 feet (935 m)
Status :Norwegian since 1927
 
 
 
Map of Bouvet island [1]

 

Bouvet Island (Norwegian: Bouvetøya) is an uninhabited Antarctic volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, south-southwest of the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). It is a dependent territory (Norwegian: biland) of Norway and is not subject to the Antarctic Treaty. It is the most remote island in the world. There are several very small islands near it (including Lars Island to the southwest), forming altogether an island group.[3]

It lies 1,370 miles southwest of Cape Agulhas at the tip of South Africa and 1,020 miles southeast of Gough Island in the South Atlantic, making it the most isolated piece of land on earth. It is, according to sailors who frequent those waters, one of the most fearsome places on the planet. Surrounded by vertical ice cliffs, outcrops of sheer volcanic rocks, skerries, and reefs, it is difficult to land and equally difficult to leave, and rock and ice falls occur continuously. [2]

Bouvet Island is the most remote island in the world. The nearest land is Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, over 1,600 km (1,000 miles) away to the south, which in itself does not have any fixed population, but is inhabited with a Nordic all-year round research station.

Bouvet Island does not have any ports or harbours, only anchorages offshore, and is therefore difficult to approach. Wave action has created a very steep coast. The easiest way to access the island is with a helicopter from a ship. The glaciers form a thick ice layer falling in high cliffs into the sea or onto the black beaches of volcanic sand. The 29.6 km (18.4 miles) of coastline are often surrounded by an ice pack. The highest point on the island is called Olavtoppen, whose peak is 780 m (2,559 ft) above sea level. A lava shelf on the island's west coast formed between 1955 and 1958, and provides a nesting site for birds.

Because of the harsh climate and ice-bound terrain, vegetation is limited to lichens and mosses. Seals, seabirds and penguins are the only fauna.

History

Aerial photoBouvet Island was probably discovered on January 1, 1739, by Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, who commanded the French ships Aigle and Marie. However, the island's position was not fixed accurately, having been placed eight degrees to the east, and Bouvet did not circumnavigate his discovery, so it remained unknown whether it was an island or part of a continent.

During 1772, Captain James Cook left South Africa on a mission to find the island. However, when arriving at 54°S 11°E? / ?54°S 11°E? / -54; 11 where Bouvet had said he sighted the island, nothing was to be seen. Captain Cook assumed that Bouvet had taken an iceberg for an island, and he abandoned the search.

The island was not sighted again until 1808, when it was seen by James Lindsay, the captain of the Enderby Company whaler Snow Swan. Though he didn't land, he was the first to fix the island's position correctly. Since this deviated greatly from the (incorrect) position previously recorded for Bouvet, it was initially assumed to be a different island and was named Lindsay Island. Only later was it established that Bouvet and Lindsay must be the same.

Captain Benjamin Morrell of the sealer Wasp claimed to have landed on Bouvet in December 1822 to hunt for seals, but his account is disputed.

On December 10, 1825, Captain Norris, master of the Enderby Company whalers Sprightly and Lively, landed on the island, named it Liverpool Island, and claimed it for the British Crown. Again, it was not known with certainty at the time that this was the same island found previously. He also reported sighting a second island nearby, which he named Thompson Island. Not any trace of this island now remains.

In 1898, the German Valdivia expedition of Carl Chun visited the island but did not land.

The first extended stay on the island was during 1927, when the Norwegian crew of the ship "Norvegia" stayed for about a month; this is the basis for the claim by "Norvegia" expedition leader Lars Christensen on behalf of Norway, which has named the island Bouvet Island (Bouvetøya in Norwegian).[7] The island was claimed for Norway on December 1, 1927, and by a Royal Norwegian Decree of January 23, 1928, Bouvetøya became a Norwegian Territory. The United Kingdom waived its claim in favor of Norway the following year. During 1930 a Norwegian act was passed that made the island a dependent area subject to the sovereignty of the Kingdom (but not a part of the Kingdom).

During 1964, an abandoned lifeboat was discovered on the island, along with various supplies; however, the lifeboat's passengers were never found.

During 1971, Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters were designated a nature reserve. During the 1950s and 1960s, there was some interest from South Africa to establish a weather station, but conditions were deemed to be too hostile. The island remains uninhabited, although an automated weather station was established there during 1977 by the Norwegians.

On September 22, 1979, a satellite recorded a flash of light (which was later interpreted as having been caused by a nuclear bomb explosion or natural event such as a meteor) in a stretch of the southern Indian Ocean between Bouvet Island and Prince Edward Islands. This flash, since dubbed the Vela Incident, is still not completely resolved.

On October 19, 2007, the Norwegian Polar Institute announced that satellite photographs no longer show the research station built on the island during 1994. Later investigations indicate that a landslide or ice avalanche swept the building off its foundations. A replacement station is being planned (2009). An unmanned weather station on the island is reportedly still intact.[3]

 

 

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References
 
 1. Wikimedia Commons-Bouvet Island-Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 7/25/2009
 2. 1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 938- Michael Bright-retrieved 7/25/2009
 3. Wikipedia- Bouvet Island-retrieved 7/25/2009
 
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