Bear Island (Norwegian: Bjørnøya, pronounced [ˈbjøːɳœʏɑ]) is the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. The island is located in the western part of the Barents Sea, approximately halfway between Spitsbergen and the North Cape.
Bear Island was discovered by the Dutch explorers Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemskerk on 10 June 1596. It was named after a polar bear that was seen swimming nearby. The island was considered terra nullius until the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 placed it under Norwegian sovereignty.
Despite its remote location and barren nature, the island has seen commercial activities in past centuries, such as coal mining, fishing and whaling. However, no settlements have lasted more than a few years, and Bear Island is now uninhabited except for personnel working at the island's meteorological station Herwighamna. Along with the adjacent waters, it was declared a nature reserve in 2002.
|Native name: |
|Area||178 km2 (69 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||536 m (1,759 ft)|
|Highest point||Urd, Miseryfjellet|
|Population||4, semi-permanent inhabitants (2008-08-20)|
|Official name||Bear Island|
|Designated||12 November 2010|
Seafarers of the Viking era may have known Bear Island, but the documented history begins in 1596, when Willem Barents sighted the island on his third expedition. He named this island "Vogel Eylandt", "Bird Island" in English. Steven Bennet conducted further exploration in 1603 and 1604 and noted the then rich population of walrus. Starting in the early 17th century, the island was used mainly as a base for the hunting of walrus and other species of seals. Also, the eggs of seabirds were harvested from the large bird colonies through 1971.
The Muscovy Company claimed Bear Island for the English Crown in 1609, but it abandoned the site when walrus-hunting declined. A Russian settlement existed in the 18th century and its remains were later used as a basis for territorial claims by Imperial Russia in 1899 and again by the Soviet Union in 1947.
Bear Island has never been extensively settled. The remnants of a whaling station from the early 20th century can be seen at Kvalrossbukta ("walrus bay") in the southeast. From 1916 through 1925, coal was mined at a small settlement named Tunheim on the northeastern coast, but then the mining was given up as unprofitable. Due to the cold climate, the remains of the settlement, including a half-destroyed jetty and a steam locomotive, are relatively well-preserved.
The strategic value of Bear Island was recognised in the late 19th century, when Imperial Russia and Imperial Germany demonstrated their interests in the Barents Sea. The German journalist and adventurer Theodor Lerner visited the island in 1898 and 1899 and claimed rights of ownership. In 1899, the German fishery association Deutscher Seefischerei-Verein (DSV) started investigations of whaling and fishery in the Barents Sea. The DSV was secretly in contact with the German naval command and considered the possibility of an occupation of Bear Island. In reaction to these advances, the Russian Navy sent out the protected cruiser Svetlana to investigate, and the Russians hoisted their flag over Bear Island on July 21, 1899. Although Lerner protested the action, no violence occurred and the matter was settled diplomatically with no definitive claims of sovereignty over Bear Island by any nation.
The whole island was privately owned by the coal mining company of Bjørnøen AS from 1918 to 1932, when the Norwegian state took over the shares. Bjørnøen AS now exists as a state-owned company, and it is jointly managed with Kings Bay AS, the company that runs the operations of Ny-Ålesund on Spitsbergen. A Norwegian radio station (Bjørnøya Radio, callsign: LJB) was established in Herwighamna on the northern coast in 1919. It was later extended to include a meteorological station.
Since the shipping routes from the Atlantic Ocean to and the ports of the arctic White Sea pass through the Barents Sea, the waters near Bear Island were of some strategic importance during World War II as well during as the Cold War. Although Svalbard was not occupied by Germany, the Kriegsmarine built several weather stations there. An automated radio station was deployed on Bjørnøya in 1941. German forces attacked several arctic convoys with military supplies bound for the Soviet Union in the waters surrounding Bear Island. They inflicted heavy losses upon the Convoy PQ 17 of June/July 1942, but they were ineffective in the Battle of the Barents Sea on New Year's Eve 1942. The waters southeast of Bear Island were the scene of more naval battles in 1943. In November 1944, the Soviet Union proposed to annul the Svalbard Treaty with the intention of gaining sovereignty over Bear Island. Negotiations with Trygve Lie of the Norwegian government-in-exile did not lead to an agreement by the end of World War II, and the Soviet proposals were never carried out. The Soviet Union (and later, Russia) maintained some presence on Spitsbergen, however.
In 2002 a nature reserve was established that covers all of the island, except 1.2 square kilometres (0.46 sq mi) around the meteorological station. The reserve also includes the adjacent waters of a four nautical mile radius (7.4 kilometres (4.6 mi)) from the coast. In 2008, the decision was made to extend the reserve to a radius of 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the coast covering 177 square kilometres (68 sq mi) on land and 2,805 square kilometres (1,083 sq mi) of sea area. Today, the island's only inhabitants are the nine or so members of the staff of the Norwegian meteorological station and radio station at Herwighamna. This station carries out meteorological observations and provides logistic and telecommunication services, including a radio watch on the HF channels 2182/2168 and the VHF channels 16/12. Weather forecasts are transmitted from the station twice daily, announced on HF 2182/VHF 16. The station also has landing platforms for use by helicopters of the Norwegian Coast Guard, the Norwegian 330 Squadron, and the Governor of Svalbard. The Norwegian Polar Institute conducts annual expeditions to Bear Island, mostly concerned with ornithological research. Several other research projects, mostly pertaining to geography and climatology, are carried out less regularly. There are very few opportunities for individual travel to Bjørnøya.
Amateur radio operators occasionally conduct DXpeditions on the island during the summer months.
Bear Island lies about 235 kilometres (146 mi) south of mainland Spitsbergen and 397 kilometres (247 mi) NNW of Ingøy in mainland Norway. In the westernmost part of the Barents Sea on Spitsbergen Bank, which extends southward from Spitsbergen and Edgeøya, forming a part of the continental shelf.
The island's outline is an approximate triangle pointing south with a greatest north-south extension of 20 kilometres (12 mi) and a greatest east-west extension of 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi). Its surface area is 178 square kilometres (69 sq mi). The southern part of Bjørnøya is mountainous, the highest top being Miseryfjellet on the southeast coast at about 536 metres (1,759 ft) above sea level.
Other notable mountains are Antarcticfjellet in the southeast, and Fuglefjellet, Hambergfjellet, and Alfredfjellet in the southwest. The northern part of the island forms a lowland plain that covers some two thirds of the surface area.
Apart from a few sandy beaches, the coast is mostly steep, with high cliffs and notable signs of erosion such as caverns and isolated rock pillars. A number of anchorages and landing points exist, as well as a small harbor at Herwighamna on the north coast.
Norwegian government agencies have conducted hydrographic surveys of Svalbard waters throughout the 20th century. The responsibility fell to the Norges Svalbard- og Ishavsundersøkelser in 1928, its successor, the Norwegian Polar Institute from 1948, and the Norwegian Hydrographic Service from 1984. Land surveying and mapping are the responsibilities of the Polar Institute.
Water depths near the island and to the north and east do not much exceed 100 metres (328 ft), but become much greater to the south, and especially some thirty nautical miles to the west, where the continental shelf slopes into the deep water of the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea.
The lowland is strewn with shallow freshwater lakes that cover about 19 square kilometres (7.3 sq mi) in all. Several streams flow into the ocean, often via waterfalls along the steeper parts of the coast. There are known glaciers on Bear Island.
|Bear Island, 1961–1990|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
A branch of the North Atlantic current carries warm water to Svalbard, creating a climate much warmer than that of other regions at similar latitude. Bear Island's climate is maritime-polar with relatively mild temperatures during the winter. January is the coldest month, with a mean temperature of −8.1 °C (17.4 °F) during a base period of 1961–1990). July and August are the warmest months, with mean temperatures of 4.4 °C (39.9 °F).
Temperatures have tended to be warmer the latest decades. There is not much precipitation, with an average of 371 mm (14.6 in) per year in the northern lowland area. The weather can be quite stable during the summer months, although foggy conditions are common, occurring during 20% of all days in July. Fog develops when the warm air of the Atlantic Ocean, from farther south, passes over cold water. The average monthly precipitation is lowest in May, and highest in September and October.
Because Bear Island lies on a boundary between cold water of polar origin and warmer Atlantic water, water temperatures within a few dozen nautical miles of the island are quite variable, sometimes reaching 10 °C (50 °F) in summer. During the winter fast ice develops on the coast, but it is rare on the open sea around Bear Island. The Barents Sea carries pack ice to Bjørnøya every winter, sometimes as early as October, but a significant amount of ice is not common before February.
The polar night lasts from about November 8 through February 3, and the period of midnight sun from about May 2 through August 11. With just 595 hours of bright sunshine per year, Bear Island has the lowest average yearly sunshine in Europe.
Bear Island was the site of a pioneering ecological study by Victor Summerhayes and Charles Elton in the early 1920s, which produced one of the first food web diagrams. There is a little plant growth, consisting mostly of moss and some scurvy grass, but no trees.
The only indigenous land mammals are a few Arctic foxes. Despite its name, Bear Island is not a permanent residence of polar bears, although many arrive with the expanding pack ice in the winter. Occasionally, a bear will stay behind when the ice retreats in spring and remain through the summer months. Moreover, the sub-population of Ursus maritimus polar bears found here is a genetically distinct set of polar bears associated with the Barents Sea region.
Ringed seal and bearded seal, prey of the polar bear, live in the waters near Bjørnøya, but the formerly common walruses have nowadays become guests. Bear Island's freshwater lakes are the home of some arctic fish species like the Arctic char.
The only land birds are snow buntings and rock ptarmigans, but the island is rich in seabirds that nest on the southern cliffs. Other species visit the island during their seasonal migration between Svalbard's northern islands and mainland Europe.
Bear island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. It supports breeding populations of northern fulmars (50,000–60,000 pairs), purple sandpipers, red phalaropes (10 pairs), glaucous gulls (2000 pairs), black-legged kittiwakes (100,000 pairs), little auks (10,000–100,000 pairs), common guillemots (50,000 pairs), thick-billed guillemots (190,000 individuals) and black guillemots (1000 pairs).
Although there are currently no industrial activities on Bjørnøya or in its immediate vicinity, pollution by toxic and radioactive substances remains a threat to the island's virtually untouched nature. Exploration in the Barents sea and the recent development of the Snøhvit gas field off the northern coast of Norway shows that the ecologically sensitive polar and subpolar sea areas of the Norwegian and Barents Sea have come into the focus of the petrol and gas industry. The environmental organisation Bellona has criticised the Norwegian government for licensing these activities without sufficient studies of their ecological impact. Organic toxins, specifically PCBs, have been found in high concentrations in biological samples from Bear Island, especially in Arctic char of the freshwater lake Ellasjøen. The Soviet nuclear submarine Komsomolets sank on April 7, 1989 some 100 nautical miles (190 km) southwest of Bear Island. Leakage of radioactive material from the reactor and nuclear warheads currently poses a problem, and severe pollution of the surrounding waters remains possible.
Publications of administrative and general interest are issued by the Governor of Svalbard . Maps, research reports, and scholarly works about Svalbard-related subjects are available from the Norwegian Polar Institute .
Maps and photos:
Geography, hydrography, meteorology:
Recent events:Atlantic puffin
The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean; two related species, the tufted puffin and the horned puffin, are found in the northeastern Pacific. The Atlantic puffin breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland, and the Faroe Islands, and as far south as Maine in the west and the west coast of Ireland and parts of the United Kingdom in the east. Although it has a large population and a wide range, the species has declined rapidly, at least in parts of its range, resulting in it being rated as vulnerable by the IUCN. On land, it has the typical upright stance of an auk. At sea, it swims on the surface and feeds mainly on small fish, which it catches by diving under water, using its wings for propulsion.
This puffin has a black crown and back, pale grey cheek patches and white underparts. Its broad, boldly marked red and black beak and orange legs contrast with its plumage. It moults while at sea in the winter and some of the bright-coloured facial characteristics are lost, with color returning again during the spring. The external appearance of the adult male and female are identical, though the male is usually slightly larger. The juvenile has similar plumage, but its cheek patches are dark grey. The juvenile does not have brightly coloured head ornamentation, its bill is narrower and is dark-grey with a yellowish-brown tip, and its legs and feet are also dark. Puffins from northern populations are typically larger than in the south and these populations are generally considered a different subspecies.
Spending the autumn and winter in the open ocean of the cold northern seas, the Atlantic puffin returns to coastal areas at the start of the breeding season in late spring. It nests in clifftop colonies, digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid. The chick mostly feeds on whole fish and grows rapidly. After about 6 weeks, it is fully fledged and makes its way at night to the sea. It swims away from the shore and does not return to land for several years.
Colonies are mostly on islands with no terrestrial predators, but adult birds and newly fledged chicks are at risk of attacks from the air by gulls and skuas. Sometimes, a bird such as an Arctic skua will harass a puffin arriving with a beakful of fish, causing it to drop its catch. The striking appearance, large colourful bill, waddling gait, and behaviour of this bird have given rise to nicknames such as "clown of the sea" and "sea parrot". It is the official bird symbol for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2015, the International Union for Conservation of Nature changed its status from "least concern" to "vulnerable". In 2018, BirdLife International reported that the Atlantic puffin was threatened with extinction.Bjørnøya
Bjørnøya (Norwegian: Bear Island), is a common name for Norwegian islands:
Bear Island (Norway) in the Svalbard archipelago (known as Bjørnøya in Norwegian)
Bjørnøya, Aremark, in the municipality of Aremark
Bjørnøya, Aurskog-Høland, in the municipality of Aurskog-Høland
Bjørnøya, Bamble, in the municipality of Bamble
Bjørnøya, Bodø, in the municipality of Bodø
Bjørnøya, Bømlo, in the municipality of Bømlo
Bjørnøya, Bremanger, in the municipality of Bremanger
Bjørnøya, Eidskog, in the municipality of Eidskog
Bjørnøya, Fræna, in the municipality of Fræna
Bjørnøya, Haram, in the municipality of Haram
Bjørnøya, Hitra, in the municipality of Hitra
Bjørnøya, Kvænangen, in the municipality of Kvænangen
Bjørnøya, Larvik, in lake Farris in the municipality of Larvik
Bjørnøya, Lurøy, in the municipality of Lurøy
Bjørnøya, Måsøy, in the municipality of Måsøy
Bjørnøya, Midsund, in the municipality of Midsund
Bjørnøya, Rennebu, in the municipality of Rennebu
Bjørnøya, Rødøy, in the municipality of Rødøy
Bjørnøya, Rømskog, in the municipality of Rømskog
Bjørnøya, Rygge, in the municipality of Rygge
Bjørnøya, Snillfjord, in the municipality of Snillfjord
Bjørnøya, Stjørdal, in the municipality of Stjørdal
Bjørnøya, Sveio, in the municipality of Sveio
Bjørnøya, Tromsø, in the municipality of Tromsø
Bjørnøya, Vestvågøy, in the municipality of VestvågøyCochlearia
The unrelated scurvy-grass sorrel (Oxalis enneaphylla) is sometimes simply called "scurvygrass".
For the Roman era spoons see Cochlearia (spoon)
Scurvy-grass (Cochlearia species; also called spoonwort) is a genus of about 30 species of annual and perennial herbs in the cabbage family Brassicaceae. They are widely distributed in temperate and arctic areas of the northern hemisphere, most commonly found in coastal regions, on cliff-tops and salt marshes where their high tolerance of salt enables them to avoid competition from larger, but less salt-tolerant plants; they also occur in alpine habitats in mountains and tundra.
They form low, rounded or creeping plants, typically 5–20 cm tall. The leaves are smoothly rounded, roughly spoon-shaped (the scientific name Cochlearia derives from the Latinized form, cocleare, of the Greek κοχλιάριον, kokhliárion, a spoon; this a diminutive of κόχλος, kókhlos, seashell), or in some species, lobed; typically 1–5 cm long, and with a fleshy texture. The flowers are white with four petals and are borne in short racemes.Fulmar
The fulmars are tubenosed seabirds of the family Procellariidae. The family consists of two extant species and two extinct fossil species from the Miocene.
Fulmars superficially resemble gulls, but are readily distinguished by their flight on stiff wings, and their tube noses. They breed on cliffs, laying one or rarely two eggs on a ledge of bare rock or on a grassy cliff. Outside the breeding season, they are pelagic, feeding on fish, squid and shrimp in the open ocean. They are long-lived for birds, living for up to 40 years.
Historically, the northern fulmar lived on the Isle of St Kilda, where it was extensively hunted. The species has expanded its breeding range southwards to the coasts of England and northern France.HMS Hydra (A144)
HMS Hydra (Pennant Number A144) was a Royal Navy deep ocean hydrographic survey vessel, the third of the original three of the Hecla class. The ship was laid down as yard number 2258 on 14 May 1964 at Yarrow Shipbuilders, at Scotstoun on the River Clyde and launched on 14 July 1965 by Mary Lythall, wife of the then Chief Scientist (Royal Navy), Basil W Lythall CB (1919–2001). She was completed and first commissioned on 4 May 1966 and, as the replacement for the survey ship HMS Owen, her commanding officer and many of her ship's company formed the first commission of HMS Hydra. She was decommissioned and sold to the Indonesian Navy in 1986 and renamed KRI Dewa Kembar (Pennant Number 932); she was still in service in 2006.List of place names of Dutch origin
The Dutch, aided by their skills in shipping, map making, finance and trade, traveled to every corner of the world and left their language embedded in names of places they visited. A fraction of these are still in use today.
To be included in this list, the place must have an article on Wikipedia or must have inline references showing the name is or was indeed Dutch.List of shipwrecks in April 1944
The list of shipwrecks in April 1944 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during April 1944.List of shipwrecks in May 1944
The list of shipwrecks in May 1944 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during May 1944.List of shipwrecks in September 1942
The list of shipwrecks in September 1942 includes all ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during September 1942.RV Cirolana
RV Cirolana was a fisheries research vessel used by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and originally built for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (United Kingdom). She was initially intended to replace the RV Ernest Holt operating in arctic waters around Bear Island (Norway) and Iceland, but following the Cod Wars spent most of her working life conducting fisheries surveys in the North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. For the first part of her career RV Cirolana was based in the fishing port of Grimsby, but after bridge and channel dredging work improved the depth, it was deemed acceptable to bring her to Lowestoft.
Her engines etc were housed in a sound and vibration proof enclosure which was supported on many pneumatic dampers. She had main electric propulsion motors which powered the screws. All ancillaries were also damped using anti-vibration mountings. All this damping was aimed at reducing noise/vibrations through the superstructure to enable the ability to conduct acoustic surveys of fish populations .
She was built in 1969, by Ferguson Shipbuilders, and delivered in 1970. She was placed out of service in approximately 2003 and replaced by RV Cefas Endeavour.On Friday 24 June 1977 RV Cirolana participated in the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead in the SolentRV Ernest Holt
RV Ernest Holt (GY591) was a fisheries research vessel that was operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (United Kingdom) - Directorate of Fisheries, now known as the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).
Research aboard the RV Ernest Holt around Bear Island (Norway) in the Arctic established an important link between fishable cod concentrations and water temperatures. In her later years she carried out some of the very first exploratory voyages to the deep water grounds of the continental slope to the west of Britain.
Being too deep in draught for convenient operation from Lowestoft and being crewed and operated primarily for the arctic fisheries based on Humberside, RV Ernest Holt worked from Grimsby, although managed and directed from the Fisheries Laboratory Lowestoft In 1971 she was renamed "SWITHA" and became a Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency vessel. She was wrecked on 31 January 1980 off Inchkeith Island in the Firth of Forth and subsequently blown up as a hazard to shipping.Sloop period
The Sloop Period Faroese: Slupptíðin is a period in Faroese history, where the Faroese society transformed from a feudal society to a semi-industrial society. The period spans from the 1880s to the beginning of World War II.Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets
K-278 Komsomolets was the only Project 685 Plavnik (Плавник, meaning "fin", also known by its NATO reporting name of "Mike"-class) nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Soviet Navy. On 4 August 1984 K-278 reached a record depth of 1,020 metres (3,350 feet) in the Norwegian Sea. Although it was developed mostly to test technology for fourth-generation nuclear submarines, it was fully combat capable. It sank on its first operational patrol, in 1989, after a fire broke out in the aft engineering compartment.
The Komsomolets was able to surface after the fire started and remained afloat for approximately 5 hours before sinking. Of the 42 crew members who died, only 4 were killed by the fire and smoke, while 34 died of hypothermia, drowning in the frigid waters while awaiting rescue that did not arrive in time. Because of the loss of life, a public enquiry was conducted and, as a result, many formerly classified details were revealed by the Soviet news media.The wrecked submarine is on the floor of the Barents Sea, about 1.6km (1 mile) deep, with its nuclear reactor and two nuclear warheads still on board.Thick-billed murre
The thick-billed murre or Brünnich's guillemot (Uria lomvia) is a bird in the auk family (Alcidae). This bird is named after the Danish zoologist Morten Thrane Brünnich. The very deeply black North Pacific subspecies Uria lomvia arra is also called Pallas' murre after its describer. The genus name is from Ancient Greek ouria, a waterbird mentioned by Athenaeus. The species term lomvia is a Swedish word for an auk or diver. The English "guillemot" is from French guillemot probably derived from Guillaume, "William". "Murre" is of uncertain origins, but may imitate the call of the common guillemot.Murres have the highest flight cost, for their body size, of any animal.USS Rodman (DD-456)
USS Rodman (DD-456/DMS-21), a Gleaves-class destroyer, is the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Admiral Hugh Rodman.
Rodman was laid down on 16 December 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, New Jersey and launched on 26 September 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Albert K. Stebbins, Jr., grandniece of Admiral Rodman. The destroyer was commissioned on 27 January 1942, Commander William Giers Michelet in command.
|Average max. and min. temperatures in °F|
|Precipitation totals in inches|
|Climate data for Bear Island, Norway|
|Average high °C (°F)||−5.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−7
|Average low °C (°F)||−11.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||30
|Average precipitation days||9||9||9||6||5||6||7||7||10||10||9||9||96|
|Average relative humidity (%)||87||88||88||87||88||90||92||91||89||86||87||88||88|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||0||6||57||105||116||105||79||70||42||15||0||0||595|
|Source #1: http://www.theweathernetwork.com/index.php?product=statistics&pagecontent=C00009|
|Source #2: met-no/met.no/eklima|