Bouvet Island (Norwegian: Bouvetøya, previously spelled Bouvet-øya) is an uninhabited subantarctic volcanic island and dependency of Norway located in the South Atlantic Ocean at 54°25.8′S 3°22.8′ECoordinates: 54°25.8′S 3°22.8′E. It lies at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is the most remote island in the world, approximately 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) south-southwest of the coast of South Africa and approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) north of the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.
The island has an area of 49 square kilometres (19 sq mi), of which 93 percent is covered by a glacier. The centre of the island is an ice-filled crater of an inactive volcano. Some skerries and one smaller island, Larsøya, lie along the coast. Nyrøysa, created by a rock slide in the late 1950s, is the only easy place to land and is the location of a weather station.
The island was first spotted on 1 January 1739, by (and was later named for) Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier. He recorded inaccurate coordinates and the island was not sighted again until 1808, when the British whaler captain James Lindsay named it Lindsay Island. The first claim of landing, although disputed, was by Benjamin Morrell. In 1825, the island was claimed for the British Crown by George Norris, who named it Liverpool Island. He also reported Thompson Island as nearby, although this was later shown to be a phantom island. The first Norvegia expedition landed on the island in 1927 and claimed it for Norway. At this time the island was named Bouvetøya, or “Bouvet Island” in Norwegian. After a dispute with the United Kingdom, it was declared a Norwegian dependency in 1930. It became a nature reserve in 1971. (credits: Wikipedia)
Discovery and early sightings
The island was discovered on 1 January 1739 by Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, commander of the French ships Aigle and Marie. This was the first time that land had been spotted south of the 50th parallel south. Bouvet, who was searching for a presumed large southern continent, spotted the island through the fog and named the cape he saw Cap de la Circoncision. He was not able to land and did not circumnavigate his discovery, thus not clarifying if it was an island or part of a continent. His plotting of its position was inaccurate leading several expeditions to fail to find the island again. James Cook’s second voyage set off from Cape Verde on November 22, 1772 to find Cape Circoncision, but was unable to find the cape.
The next expedition to spot the island was in 1808 by James Lindsay, captain of the Samuel Enderby & Sons’ (SE&S) whaler Snow Swan. They reached the island and recorded its position, though they were unable to land. Lindsay could confirm that the “cape” was indeed an island. The next expedition to arrive at the island was American Benjamin Morrell and his seal hunting ship Wasp. Morrell, by his own account, found the island without difficulty (with “improbable ease”, in the words of historian William Mills) before landing and hunting 196 seals. In his subsequent lengthy description, Morrell does not mention the island’s most obvious physical feature, its permanent ice cover. This has caused some commentators to doubt whether he actually visited the island.
On 10 December 1825, SE&S’s George Norris, master of the Sprightly, landed on the island, named it Liverpool Island and claimed it for the British Crown and George IV on 16 December. The next expedition to spot the island was Joseph Fuller and his ship Francis Allyn in 1893, but he was not able to land on the island. German Carl Chun’s Valdivia expedition arrived at the island in 1898. They were not able to land, but dredged the seabed for geological samples. They were also the first to accurately fix the island’s position.
Norris also spotted a second island in 1825, which he named Thompson Island, which he placed 72 kilometres (45 mi) north-northeast of Liverpool Island. Thompson Island was also reported in 1893 by Fuller, but in 1898 Chun did not report seeing such an island, nor has anyone since. However, Thompson Island continued to appear on maps as late as 1943. A 1967 paper suggested that the island might have disappeared in an undetected volcanic eruption, but in 1997 it was discovered that the ocean is more than 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) deep in the area. (credits: Wikipedia)
In 1927, the First Norvegia Expedition – led by Harald Horntvedt and financed by Lars Christensen – was the first to make an extended stay on the island. Observations and surveying were conducted on the islands and oceanographic measurements performed in the sea around it. At Ny Sandefjord, a small hut was erected and, on 1 December, the Norwegian flag was hoisted and the island claimed for Norway. The annexation was established by a royal decree on 23 January 1928.
The claim was initially protested by the United Kingdom, on the basis of Norris’s landing and annexation. However, the British position was weakened by Norris’s sighting of two islands and the uncertainty as to whether he had been on Thompson or Liverpool (i.e. Bouvet) Island. Norris’s positioning deviating from the correct location combined with the island’s lack of a natural harbour and small size made the UK accept the Norwegian claim. This resulted in diplomatic negotiations between the two countries, and in November 1929, Britain renounced its claim to the island.
The Second Norvegia Expedition arrived in 1928 with the intent of establishing a manned meteorological radio station, but a suitable location could not be found. By then both the flagpole and hut from the previous year had been washed away. The Third Norvegia Expedition, led by Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, arrived the following year and built a new hut at Kapp Circoncision and on Larsøya. The expedition carried out aerial photography of the island and was the first Antarctic expedition to use aircraft. The Dependency Act, passed by the Parliament of Norway on 27 February 1930, established Bouvet Island as a dependency, along with Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land. The eared seal was protected on and around the island in 1929 and in 1935 all seals around the island were protected. (credits: Wikipedia)