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Bouvet Island: The Most Remote Island in the World

by Holly Chavez Blog

On January 1, 1739, an amazing discovery was made by French Commander Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier: a volcanic island that is so remote that it is necessary to travel 2,600 km (1,600 miles) to find land that is inhabited on a full-time basis.
Antarctic Peninsula

Bouvet Island: The Most Remote Island in the World

On January 1, 1739, an amazing discovery was made by French Commander Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier: a volcanic island that is so remote that it is necessary to travel 2,600 km (1,600 miles) to find land that is inhabited on a full-time basis. Although there are numerous uninhabited small islands and other land formations throughout the world, Bouvet Island is notable for being almost completely covered by a glacier. It is estimated that only 7 percent of the 49 square km (19 square miles) are free of the glacier, and the island’s center is home to an inactive volcano that is filled with ice.

The French Commander’s discovery of Bouvet Island was undoubtedly exciting, both for him and mapmakers. However, the coordinates were inaccurately recorded during the first sighting, and the small land mass was lost again until a British whaler named James Lindsay found it in 1808. There were several disputes about what the island’s name should be and which nation should have control of it, but Norway was finally able to name it a dependency in 1930.

A Modern Mystery

Due to its remote location, Bouvet Island has never become a commonly visited destination. Therefore, it was surprising when an abandoned lifeboat was found moored in April 1964. This discovery led to an examination of the island, but no trace of human life was ever found. Interestingly, the placement of the boat suggests that the people who were once on board could have easily gotten onto the island, so this makes the complete lack of evidence even more bewildering. Additionally, there are no identification marks of any kind on the small lifeboat to help researchers trace the boat’s origin. Instead, it seems like this is a modern mystery that is fated to remain unsolved.    

The Fictional Approach

With the unknown early history of the island, its remote location and the mystery of the abandoned lifeboat, it is no wonder that this small land mass has attracted the imagination of many writers. To date, Bouvet Island has been the setting of at least three books and one movie, including the 2004 film “Alien vs. Predator.” The scriptwriters chose to use the island’s proper Norwegian name: Bouvetøya. It is important to note, though, that the island that is depicted in the unrated version of the movie is actually located far away from the real Bouvet Island.

Current Usage

This sub-Antarctic island is at the far southern side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and it was officially designated as a nature reserve more than 40 years ago. The northwestern section, which is known as Nyrøysa, is the only spot where people can easily access Bouvet Island. It is mostly uncovered by ice and is home to a weather station. The section of the island has uneven land, so it is necessary for any land explorers to walk carefully over the gravel, lava stone and boulders.

Many researchers have utilized Nyrøysa as a way to learn more about Bouvet Island. From 1996 to 2006, there was a field station located in this area, but it is believed to have disappeared as the result of an earthquake.

Life on Bouvet Island

As previously mentioned, Bouvet Island is a nature reserve. The type of wildlife that populates the island has varied throughout the time period that researchers have been monitoring it, but it is still common for anyone who visits Nyrøysa to see penguins and fur seals. The types of penguins that build colonies on Bouvet Island include chinstrap penguins and macaroni penguins.     

The macaroni penguin is one of the most prevalent species in the world, and it is easily recognizable due to its distinctive orange feather plumes. These migratory penguins dine almost exclusively on crustaceans, and they prefer to breed in areas with rocky slopes. This makes Bouvet Island a suitable choice, and the last reported population numbers indicated that 4,700 macaroni penguins make the island their home.

The number of chinstrap penguins on the island is much smaller and was last recorded at 422. This breed can be quickly determined by the characteristic thin black band that goes underneath their beak and connects both sides of their head feathers. There are believed to be at least 7 million breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins worldwide, so their global population numbers are not threatened by their minimal presence on Bouvet Island.

There are some other minor forms of life in the Nyrøysa area of Bouvet Island such as algae, moss and at least one species of mushroom. However, this is not the full extent of the area’s wildlife activity. In fact, there are several bird species that can be seen on the island at various times throughout the year, and this has earned the island the designation of an Important Bird Area. Some of the other feathered residents that birders who visit the island can expect to see include the snow petrel, black-browed albatross and the Antarctic prion.

The nearby marine life includes a large population of the previously mentioned fur seals. It is also possible to spot killer whales and humpback whales relatively close to the shore of this volcanic land mass. Due to this interesting mixture of seabirds, penguins and marine life, Bouvet Island is a very intriguing destination for bird and marine mammal enthusiasts.

The Oceanwide Expeditions Difference

One of the main perks of signing up for expedition cruises with Oceanwide Expeditions is that you will be given the opportunity to actually explore areas that have limited to no infrastructure. We create our once in a lifetime expeditions around the idea that each participant should be able to truly get away from everything in their normal daily life. We provide an experienced staff so that everyone can get the most out of the entire experience, and we steer clear of areas that are overrun by tourists and five-star hotels. If you are ready to see some of the most interesting places in the world and get your feet on the ground in remote spots such as Bouvet Island, Oceanwide Expeditions is certain to have the perfect cruise built around excursions that suit your interests

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