Signy Island base and panorama
|Location||Southern Atlantic Ocean|
|Archipelago||South Orkney Islands|
|Area||19 km2 (7.3 sq mi)|
|Length||6.5 km (4.04 mi)|
|Width||5 km (3.1 mi)|
|Highest elevation||288 m (945 ft)|
|Administered under the Antarctic Treaty System|
|Largest settlement||Signy Research Station (pop. 5)|
|Pop. density||0.26/km2 (0.67/sq mi)|
Signy Island is a small subantarctic island in the South Orkney Islands of Antarctica. It was named by the Norwegian whaler Petter Sørlle (1884–1933) after his wife, Signy Therese.
The island is about 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long and 5 km (3.1 mi) wide and rises to 288 m (945 ft) above sea level. Much of it is permanently covered with ice. The average temperature range is 0 °C (32 °F) to about −10 °C (14 °F) in winter (i.e. in July). The extremes extend to 12 and −44 °C (53.6 and −47.2 °F). It is separated from Coronation Island to the north by Normanna Strait, and from Moe Island to the southwest by Fyr Channel.
On Signy Island, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) maintains the Signy Research Station, a scientific station for research in biology. The base was opened on 18 March 1947, on the site of an earlier whaling station that had existed there in the 1920s. The station was staffed year-round until 1996; since that year it has been occupied only from November to April. It houses 10 people.
A number of locations on the island have been charted and individually named by various Antarctic expeditions. The first survey was conducted in 1912 by Norwegian whaling captain Petter Sorlle. It was subsequently visited and charted by Discovery Investigations (DI) personnel in 1927 and 1933. Finally, in 1947, the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) charted the island. The charts produced by these surveys account for many of the names of the island's features. Others were provided later by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC).
The northernmost point of Signy Island is descriptively named North Point, first charted in 1933 by DI personnel. 0.75 nmi (1.4 km) off the coast, are the ice-free Spindrift Rocks, approximately 15 m (49 ft) high. They were surveyed and named in 1947 by FIDS. The name is descriptive of the spindrift, or sea spray, which forms over these rocks during westerly gales. South of North Point is Williams Haven, a cove with a large sea cave in the cliff on the north side of the cove. UK-APC named the cove after David D. Wynn-Williams, BAS microbiologist. The south entrance of Williams Haven is marked by Richard Point, named for Kenneth J. Richard, BAS technician.To the southwest,
Deschampsia Point is a point on the northwest side of Signy Island, 0.3 nautical miles (0.6 km) northeast of the Spindrift Rocks. It was descriptively named by UK-APC in 1991 after the Antarctic hair grass Deschampsia antarctica , which grows on the slopes near the point.
To the south, Lovegrove Point, named by UK-APC for Ian W. Lovegrove, marks the north entrance of Express Cove, a small cove approximately midway down the west coast of the island.Express Cove has a very indented shoreline with numerous offshore islands and rocks. It was roughly charted in 1933 by DI personnel and named for the American schooner Express, which visited the South Orkney Islands in 1880. Foca Point marks the south side of the entrance to Express Cove. It was named for the whale catcher Foca, belonging to the Compañía Argentina de Pesca. Both were surveyed in 1947 by FIDS and named by UK-APC. Foca Point also marks the north side of Foca Cove, named in association with the point.
The next significant feature is Thulla Point, an ice-free point lying 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) northeast of Jebsen Point. It was charted in 1933 by DI personnel, roughly surveyed in 1947 by FIDS, and named by UK-APC in 1954 for the Norwegian steamship Thulla. Thulla Cove, named in association with the point, is located to the south of it.
Inland to the southeast of the point and cove are several lakes, all named by UK-APC. Amos Lake, named for Stephen C. Amos, British Antarctic Survey limnologist, is closest to the shore.Northeast of Amos Lake is Spirogyra Lake, named for the algal genus Spirogyra , which grows abundantly in the lake in summer. To the east is Light Lake, named after BAS limnologist Jeremy J. Light. Tranquil Lake, a cirque lake fed by meltwater, named by UK-APC for its sheltered position, lies further inland between Amos Lake and the Snow Hills.
Port Jebsen indents the coast towards the south end of the island immediately north of Jebsen Point. It was charted in 1912 by Petter Sorlle, a Norwegian whaling captain, who named Jebsen Point, for which the cove is named. 0.5 nautical miles (1 km) in an east–west direction, lying 0.5 nautical miles north of Jebsen Point.Also associated are the Jebsen Rocks, a chain of rocks which extend
South of Jebsen Point is Cummings Cove, surveyed by DI personnel in 1933 and FIDS personnel in 1947. It was named by UK-APC for FIDS radio operator E. T. Cummings. 0.1 nmi (0.2 km) northeast of Cummings Cove, was named by UK-APC for its irregular shoreline. Porteous Point, charted in 1933 by DI personnel, marks the south entrance point of Cummings Cove.BAS maintains a scientific hut at Cummings Cove, visited regularly by BAS personnel from Signy Station. It has accommodations for 2 people, with food and fuel for 2 person-months. Bothy Lake, a small lake at the cove's head, was named by UK-APC for this hut, or "bothy". Twisted Lake,
South of Cummings Cove is Hydrurga Cove, named by UK-APC after the leopard seals, Hydrurga leptonyx, that commonly frequent the cove.
The first prominent feature on the east coast is Stygian Cove, named by FIDS because it is so overshadowed by the cliffs of Robin Peak that a sense of stygian gloom is felt. 0.3 nmi (0.6 km) inland to the south of Berry Head is The Wallows, a low-lying area sheltered by low ridges with a small freshwater pond in the center. It was named by FIDS because moulting elephant seals wallow here in the summer.Immediately to the east is Berry Head, named by DI personnel, which divides Stygian Cove from Tern Cove. The entrance of Tern Cove is blocked by submerged rocks. The cove contains three small islands, and an area near the head dries at low water. It was named by FIDS for the colony of Antarctic terns on the southernmost island in the cove.
To the south of that is Rootes Point, named by UK-APC for David M. Rootes of the BAS, which marks the north entrance of Starfish Cove. 0.3 nmi (0.6 km) off the mouth of the cove is a small submerged rock called Powell Rock, first charted by Captain Sorlle and named after his whale catcher Powell.Starfish Cove was roughly surveyed in 1933 by DI personnel and named by FIDS because of the large number of starfish in the cove. About
South of Starfish Cove is Borge Bay, a large, irregularly-shaped bay that dominates the east side of Signy Island, delineated by Balin Point to the north and Berntsen Point to the south.
0.5 nmi (0.9 km) south of Borge Bay is Paal Harbour. The name first appears on a map by captain Sorlle. The harbor and its constituent features were first surveyed in 1933 by DI personnel and resurveyed in 1947 by FIDS. Observation Bluff, 110 m (360 ft) high, forms the north side of Paal Harbor. It was named by FIDS because they made daily observations from it. The bluff comes to a point called Polynesia Point, named by UK-APC for the factory ship Polynesia. Pinder Gully, named by UK-APC for meteorologist Ronald Pinder, runs into the sea from the bluff. On the west side of the harbor is Rusty Bluff, a prominent cliff rising 225 m (738 ft) to a rounded summit, named for its color and a rusted iron post found on the summit by FIDS. Ice-free Rethval Point, named by UK-APC for the Rethval Whaling Company of Oslo, the first company to start whaling in the South Orkney Islands, forms the south side of the entrance to Paal Harbour.
To the south sits Caloplaca Cove, named by UK-APC after the abundant orange lichens of the genus Caloplaca , which encrust the sea cliffs around the cove.The south entrance of the cove is marked by Pantomime Point, on Gourlay Peninsula.
Gourlay Peninsula is an irregularly-shaped ice-free peninsula, which is 0.1 nautical miles (0.2 km) wide at its base and widens to 0.4 nautical miles (0.7 km), forming the southeastern extremity of Signy Island. The seaward end of the peninsula divides into three arms. It was surveyed in 1933 by DI personnel, and resurveyed in 1947 by FIDS. Pantomime Point is the northernmost of the three points, and Pageant Point is the central and highest of the three points. Both were named by FIDS for behavior observed in the penguin rookeries on the peninsula. The cove between Pantomine and Pageant Points is named Filer Haven, named by UK-APC for John Filer, a British Antarctic Survey biologist who fell to his death from the cliffs here in 1961. The third point is Gourlay Point, named by DI personnel, for engineer Ronald George Gourlay; the peninsula as a whole was named by UK-APC for the point.
Moyes Point is a point on the southwest part of Signy Island, forming the east side of the southeast entrance to Fyr Channel. First charted in 1933 by DI personnel, it was surveyed by FIDS in 1956-58. In 1959 it was named by UK-APC for William Moyes, British government representative at Signy Island in 1912–13.
To the east, the southernmost point of the island is Pandemonium Point, named by FIDS because of the ceaseless noise from the penguin rookeries on the west side of the ridge close north of the point. 1 nautical mile (2 km) wide, entered between the Oliphant Islands and Confusion Point on Confusion Island, along the south side of Signy Island. It was charted in 1933 by DI personnel who named it for Archibald J. Clowes, English oceanographer. East of Clowes Bay is Lenton Point, named in 1954 by UK-APC for radio operator Ralph A. Lenton of FIDS. Lenton Point marks the west side of Fur Seal Cove, which sits next to Gourlay Peninsula. The cove was named by the UK-APC for the large number of fur seals which frequent the cove and adjacent shore. Inland to the north of Lenton Point is the Hillier Moss, a wet, level, low-lying area, which has several small pools and extensive moss carpets. It was named by UK-APC for Edward R. Hillier, a BAS medical officer.Clowes Bay is a bay
The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports substantial and varied seabird breeding colonies. Birds for which the site is of conservation significance are southern giant petrels (2300 pairs), Wilson's storm petrels (200,000 pairs), imperial shags (800 pairs) and brown skuas (100 pairs). Other birds nesting on the island include chinstrap penguins (19,500 pairs), Adélie penguin (16,900 pairs), gentoo penguins (750 pairs), Antarctic prions (50,000 pairs), south polar skuas, snow petrels, Cape petrels, black-bellied storm petrels, snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and Antarctic terns. Antarctic fur seals haul out in large numbers varying up to over 20,000. Weddell seals breed in winter on the sea ice around the island.
Adelaide Island is a large, mainly ice-covered island, 139 kilometres (75 nmi) long and 37 kilometres (20 nmi) wide, lying at the north side of Marguerite Bay off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Ginger Islands lie off the southern end. Mount Bodys is the easternmost mountain on Adelaide Island, rising to over 1,220 m. The island lies within the Argentine, British and Chilean Antarctic claims.
The Trojan Range is a mountain range rising to 2,760 metres (9,055 ft), extending northward from Mount Francais along the east side of Iliad Glacier, Anvers Island, in the Palmer Archipelago of the British Antarctic Territory. It was surveyed by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) in 1955 and named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) for the Trojans, one of the opposing sides in the Trojan War in Homer's Iliad.
Arrowsmith Peninsula is a cape about 40 miles (64 km) long on the west coast of Graham Land, west of Forel Glacier, Sharp Glacier and Lallemand Fjord, and northwest of Bourgeois Fjord, with Hanusse Bay lying to the northwest. It was surveyed by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) in 1955-58 and named for Edwin Porter Arrowsmith, Governor of the Falkland Islands.
Thatcher Peninsula is a mountainous peninsula in north-central South Georgia. Its total area is approximately 5,640 hectares, with roughly 1,620 ha covered in vegetation. It erminates to the north in Mai Point, rising between Cumberland West Bay to the west, and Cumberland East Bay and Moraine Fjord to the east. It is bounded to the southwest and south by Lyell Glacier and Hamberg Glacier. King Edward Cove on the east side of the peninsula is the site of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Grytviken station and the disused whaling station of the same name.
King Edward Cove is a sheltered cove in the west side of Cumberland East Bay, South Georgia. This cove and its surrounding features, frequented by early sealers at South Georgia, was charted by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, under Otto Nordenskiöld who named it Grytviken. That name, meaning 'Pot Bay,' was subsequently assumed by the whaling station and settlement built in 1904. The cove got its present name in about 1906 for King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.
Barff Peninsula is a peninsula forming the east margin of Cumberland East Bay, South Georgia Island. It is 8 miles (13 km) long and extends northwest from Sörling Valley to Barff Point, its farthest extremity. It was probably first seen by the British expedition under James Cook in 1775. The peninsula as a whole takes its name from Barff Point, which was named for Royal Navy Lieutenant A.D. Barff of HMS Sappho, who, assisted by Captain C.A. Larsen, sketched a map of Cumberland Bay in 1906. Barff Point is considered the eastern headland of East Cumberland Bay.
Right Whale Bay is a bay 1.5 miles wide, entered between Craigie Point and Nameless Point along the north coast of South Georgia Island. The bay is named for the southern right whales found in the area. South Georgia has historically been well known for whaling. The bay is linked to Morsa Bay on the island's south coast by a mountain pass called Ernesto Pass.
The Bay of Isles is a bay 9 miles (14 km) wide and receding 3 miles (5 km), lying between Cape Buller and Cape Wilson along the north coast of South Georgia. It was discovered in 1775 by a British expedition under James Cook and so named by him because numerous islands lie in the bay. Of South Georgia's 31 breeding bird species, 17 are found here.
Greene Peninsula is a mountainous peninsula within Cumberland East Bay, separating Moraine Fjord to the west from the main arm of Cumberland East Bay, on the north coast of South Georgia Island. The entire area was charted by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (SAE), 1901–04, under Otto Nordenskjöld. The peninsula was named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in 1979 after Stanley Wilson Greene, a British bryologist who worked in South Georgia.
Elsehul is a bay along the north coast of South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Elsehul is approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide, and is separated from nearby Undine Harbour by the narrow Survey Isthmus. The name "Elsehul" dates back to the period 1905–12 and was probably applied by Norwegian sealers and whalers working in the area. The Discovery Investigations (DI) expedition of 1930 surveyed Elsehul and the surrounding area, naming many features. A British Admiralty chart dating to 1931 provided the first instance of many other names; unless otherwise specified, features noted in this article were first named on this chart.
Amsler Island is a small island off the south coast of Anvers Island in the Palmer Archipelago of Antarctica. It sits between Loudwater Cove and Arthur Harbour.
Borge Bay is a large, irregularly-shaped bay that dominates the east side of Signy Island, in the South Orkney Islands of Antarctica. It was charted in 1912 by Norwegian whaling captain Petter Sorlle, and named for Captain Hans Borge of the Polynesia, who undertook additional mapping of the bay during the following year. It was charted in more detail in 1927 and 1933 by Discovery Investigations personnel, who named many of its features. It was surveyed further in 1947 by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), which named several other features.
Orwell Bight is a body of water lying south of the eastern half of Coronation Island, bounded on the west by Signy Island and on the east by the Robertson Islands, in the South Orkney Islands. The general nature of this bight was first delineated by Petter Sorlle, Norwegian whaling captain who mapped this area in 1912–13. It was surveyed by DI personnel in 1933 and by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) in 1948–49. Named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) for the Norwegian transport Orwell, the second ship of that name belonging to the Tonsberg Hvalfangeri, which anchored in Borge Bay, Signy Island, on the west side of this bight in the seasons 1925–26 to 1929–30.
Napier Rock is a rock lying 1.75 nautical miles (3.2 km) east-southeast of Point Thomas in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, in the South Shetland Islands. Charted by the French Antarctic Expedition under Charcot, 1908–10. Named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in 1960 for Ronald G. Napier (1925–1956) of Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), general assistant and handyman at the Signy Island station in 1955, and then leader at Admiralty Bay until he was drowned on March 24, 1956.
Paternoster Valley is a valley extending southwestward from Stygian Cove in northern Signy Island. So named by United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) from the occurrence of three small paternoster lakes, at different levels in the valley.
Moe Island is an island 2 km (1.2 mi) long in the South Orkney Islands off Antarctica, separated from the south-west end of Signy Island by Fyr Channel. It was charted by Captain Petter Sørlle in 1912–13, and named after M. Thoralf Moe of Sandefjord, Norway, a contemporary whaling captain who worked in this area. The northernmost point of the island is Spaull Point, named by United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) after Vaughan W. Spaull, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) biologist on Signy Island, 1969.
Moraine Valley is a valley filled with morainic debris, 0.75 nautical miles (1.4 km) long, which drains north into Elephant Flats on the east side of Signy Island, in the South Orkney Islands off Antarctica. In summer a stream, fed by the ice slopes at its south end, runs in this valley. It was named by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey following their survey of 1947.
Skilling Island is a small island immediately north of Atriceps Island, in the Robertson Islands group of the South Orkney Islands of Antarctica. Although roughly charted at a much earlier date, the island was first surveyed in 1933 by DI personnel. It was named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) for Charles J. Skilling (1931–52) of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), general assistant at Signy Island in 1949, and member of the sledge party which visited the Robertson Islands the same year. Skilling died aboard the John Biscoe on 17 April 1952.
Tioga Lake is a small lake in the South Orkney Islands. It lies north-northeast of Port Jebsen and northwest of Tioga Hill, from which it takes its name, on Signy Island. Named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in 1981.
Three Lakes Valley is a low valley containing three freshwater lakes, extending from the vicinity of Elephant Flats northward to Stygian Cove on Signy Island, in the South Orkney Islands. The three lakes, from north to south, are Heywood Lake, Knob Lake, and Pumphouse Lake. The valley was surveyed and given this descriptive name by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) in 1947.