Gough Island /ɡɒf/, also known historically as Gonçalo Álvares after the Portuguese explorer, is a rugged volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a dependency of Tristan da Cunha and part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is about 400 km (250 mi) south-east of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (which includes Nightingale Island and Inaccessible Island), 2,400 km (1,500 mi) north-east from South Georgia Island, 2,700 km (1,700 mi) west from Cape Town, and over 3,200 km (2,000 mi) from the nearest point of South America.
Gough Island is uninhabited except for the personnel of a weather station (usually six people) which the South African National Antarctic Programme has maintained, with British permission, continually on the island since 1956. It is one of the most remote places with a constant human presence. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands.
View of Gough Island
|Location||South Atlantic Ocean|
|Archipelago||Tristan da Cunha|
|Area||91 km2 (35 sq mi)|
|Length||13 km (8.1 mi)|
|Width||7 km (4.3 mi)|
|Highest elevation||910 m (2,990 ft)|
|Highest point||Edinburgh Peak|
|St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha|
|Criteria||Natural: (vii), (x)|
|Inscription||1995 (19th Session)|
|Designated||20 November 2008|
The island was first named Ilha de Gonçalo Álvares on Portuguese maps. It was named Gough Island after the English mariner Captain Charles Gough of the Richmond, who sighted the island in 1732. Confusion of the unusual Portuguese saint name Gonçalo with Spanish Diego led to the misnomer Diego Alvarez Island in English sources from the 1800s to 1930s. However, the most likely explanation is that it was simply a misreading of 'Is de Go Alvarez', the name by which the island is represented on some of the early charts, the 'de Go' mutating into 'Diego'.
The details of the discovery of Gough Island are unclear, but the most likely occasion is July 1505 by the Portuguese explorer Gonçalo Álvares. Maps during the next three centuries named the island after him. On some later maps, this was erroneously given as Diego Alvarez.
Charles Gough rediscovered the island on 3 March 1732, thinking it was a new find. It had been named Gonçalo Álvares since 1505 after the captain of Vasco da Gama's flagship on his epic voyage to the east, and under this name it was marked with reasonable accuracy on the charts of the South Atlantic during the following 230 or so years. Then, in 1732, Captain Gough of the British ship Richmond reported the discovery of a new island, which he placed 400 miles to the east of Gonçalo Álvares. Fifty years later cartographers realised that the two islands were the same, and despite the priority of the Portuguese discovery, and the greater accuracy of the position given by them, "Gough's Island" was the name adopted.
In the early 19th century, sealers sometimes briefly inhabited the island. The earliest known example is a sealing gang from the U.S. ship Rambler (Captain Joseph Bowditch) which remained on the island in the 1804–1805 season. The sealing era lasted from 1804 to 1910 during which 34 sealing vessels are known to have visited the island, one of which was lost offshore.
The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition on the Scotia made the first visit to the island by a scientific party on 21 April 1904, when William Speirs Bruce and others collected specimens. The Shackleton–Rowett Expedition also stopped at the island in 1922.
Gough Island was formally claimed in 1938 for Britain, during a visit by HMS Milford of the Royal Navy. In 1995, the island was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2004, the site was extended to include Inaccessible Island and renamed Gough and Inaccessible Islands.
Gough Island is the only place outside South America from which the solar eclipse of September 12, 2034, will be visible; the centre of the path of totality crosses over the island.
Gough Island is roughly rectangular with a length of 13 km (8.1 mi) and a width of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). It has an area of 91 km2 (35 sq mi) and rises to heights of over 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level. Topographic features include the highest peak, Edinburgh Peak, Hags Tooth, Mount Rowett, Sea Elephant Bay, Quest Bay, and Hawkins Bay.
It includes small satellite islands and rocks such as Southwest Island, Saddle Island (South), Tristiana Rock, Isolda Rock (West), Round Island, Cone Island, Lot's Wife, Church Rock (North), Penguin Island (Northeast), and The Admirals (East).
The islands have a cool-temperate oceanic climate, and lie on the edge of the roaring forties. Gough Island's temperatures are very solid between 11 °C (52 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F) during the day year-round, due to its isolated position far out in the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic is much cooler in the southern hemisphere than the northern, but frosts are still very rare. As a result, summers are extremely cool. Precipitation is high for all of the year and sunshine hours are low. Snow falls in the interior, but is rare at sea level.
Gough and Inaccessible Island are a protected wildlife reserve, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has been described as one of the least disrupted ecosystems of its kind and one of the best shelters for nesting seabirds in the Atlantic. In particular, it is host to almost the entire world population of the Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) and the Atlantic petrel (Pterodroma incerta). The island is also home to the almost flightless Gough moorhen, and the critically endangered Gough bunting.
The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International for its endemic landbirds and as a breeding site for seabirds. Birds for which the IBA has conservation significance include northern rockhopper penguins (30,000 breeding pairs), Tristan albatrosses (1500–2000 pairs), sooty albatrosses (5000 pairs), Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses (5000 pairs), broad-billed prions (1,750,000 pairs), Kerguelen petrels (20,000 pairs), soft-plumaged petrels (400,000 pairs), Atlantic petrels (900,000 pairs), great-winged petrels (5000 pairs), grey petrels (10,000 pairs), great shearwaters (100,000 pairs), little shearwaters (10,000 pairs), grey-backed storm petrels (10,000 pairs), white-faced storm petrels (10,000 pairs), white-bellied storm petrels (10,000 pairs), Antarctic terns (500 pairs), southern skuas (500 pairs), Gough moorhens (2500 pairs) and Gough buntings (3000 individuals).
House mice are currently present on the island. (see Invasive Species)
In 1998 a number of procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens) plants were found on the island which are capable of dramatically transforming the upland plant ecosystem (as it has on the Prince Edward Islands).  Eradication efforts are ongoing but are expected to require years of 'concerted effort'. 
In April 2007 researchers published evidence that predation by introduced house mice on seabird chicks is occurring at levels that might drive the Tristan albatross and the Atlantic petrel to extinction. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds awarded £62,000 by the UK government's Overseas Territories Environment Programme to fund additional research on the Gough Island mice and a feasibility study of how best to deal with them. The grant also paid for the assessment of a rat problem on Tristan da Cunha island. Trials for a method of eradicating the mice through baiting were commenced, and ultimately a £9.2m eradication programme was planned, and set to begin in 2020, with the island expected to be mouse free by 2022. The inception of this programme in 2020 was confirmed in 2018. The programme will use helicopters to drop cereal pellets containing the rodenticide brodifacoum. As of October 2018, it is estimated that as many as 2,000,000 fewer eggs and chicks are being raised due to the impact of mice on the island, threatening the extinction of several species of seabirds that breed exclusively or nearly exclusively on Gough Island. Gough has also been identified as the third most important island in the world (out of 107 islands) to be targeted for the removal of non-native invasive mammals to save threatened species from extinction and make major progress towards achieving global conservation targets.
Visit The Gough Island Restoration Project's website www.goughisland.com for more information on the mouse eradication.
A weather station has been operating on Gough Island since 1956. It is operated as part of the network of the South African Weather Service. Because cold fronts approach South Africa from the south-west, the Gough station is particularly important in forecasting winter weather. Initially it was housed in the station at The Glen, but moved in 1963 to the South lowlands of the island, more precisely 40°20'57.68"S 9°52'49.13"W. The new location improved the validity and reliability of the data acquired for use in modeling.
Each year a new overwintering team arrives by ship (beginning in 2012, the S. A. Agulhas II) to staff the weather station and perform scientific research. The team for a particular year may be termed as "Gough" and an expedition number: for example, the 1956 team were "Gough 01", and the team for 2013 were "Gough 58". Each new team directly replaces the departing one, thereby maintaining a continual human presence on the island.
A team normally consists of:
The team is supplied with enough food to last the whole year. People and cargo are landed either by helicopter, from a helideck-equipped supply ship, or by a fixed crane atop a cliff near the station (a place aptly called "Crane Point").
In 2014 a member of the research team choked to death on the island and his body was taken back to South Africa.
Anthony de la Roché, born sometime in the 17th century, (spelled also Antoine de la Roché, Antonio de la Roché or Antonio de la Roca in some sources) was an English merchant born in London to a French Huguenot father and an English mother. During a commercial voyage between Europe and South America he was blown off course, and visited the Antarctic island of South Georgia, making the first discovery of land south of the Antarctic Convergence.Atlantic petrel
The Atlantic petrel (Pterodroma incerta) is a gadfly petrel endemic to the South Atlantic Ocean. It breeds in enormous colonies on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, and ranges at sea from Brazil to Namibia, with most records at sea being to the west of the breeding islands, and along the subtropical convergence.
The species feeds mostly on squid, which comprises 87% of its diet in some studies; it will also feed on lanternfishes (Myctophidae) as they ascend to the surface at night, as well as on crustaceans.Although the species exists in large numbers, the world population being estimated at around 5 million birds, it is listed as endangered by the IUCN. It is restricted to just two breeding islands and has declined historically due to exploitation for food. It is also currently thought to be threatened by introduced house mice, which attack chicks leading to low breeding success.
It was formerly classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. However, new research has demonstrated the severe impact of predation by mice. Consequently, it was uplisted to endangered status in 2008.Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross
The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) is a large seabird in the albatross family. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. Thalassarche is from thalassa, "sea" and arkhe, "command", and chlororhynchos is from khloros, "yellow", and rhunkhos, "bill".This small mollymawk was once considered conspecific with the Indian yellow-nosed albatross and known as the yellow-nosed albatross. Some authorities still consider these taxa to be conspecific, such as the Clements checklist and the SACC, which recognizes that a proposal is needed.Geography of Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is an archipelago of five islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean, the largest of which is the island of Tristan da Cunha itself and the second-largest the remote bird haven Gough Island. It forms part of a wider territory called Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which includes Saint Helena and Ascension Island.Gough finch
The Gough finch (Rowettia goughensis), or Gough bunting, is a critically endangered species of songbird.Gough moorhen
The Gough moorhen (Gallinula comeri) is a medium-sized, almost flightless bird that is similar to the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), but is smaller, stockier, and has shorter wings. The bird has a distinctive yellow-tipped red bill and red frontal shield.
Its first account was written in 1888 by the polar explorer George Comer, whom the specific name comeri commemorates.
This bird is found only on two remote islands in the South Atlantic.
The Gough moorhen was originally endemic to Gough Island, but in 1956 was introduced to Tristan da Cunha, an island in the same archipelago which was formerly home of the now extinct Tristan moorhen (Galinula nesiotis). On the basis of DNA sequencing of both recently collected and historical material from both of the archipelago's moorhen species, Groenenberg et al (2008) concluded that the genetic distances between G. nesiotis and G. comeri are of at least the same size as those found between subspecies of common moorhen (G. chloropus) in the literature. They propose that the extinct moorhen of Tristan (G. nesiotis) and the moorhens that live on Gough and Tristan today (G. comeri) be regarded as subspecies.On Gough Island, it appears that the bird's future is secure with the island being a nature reserve and a World Heritage Site. In the mid-1990s, it was estimated that 2,500 breeding pairs existed on Gough Island. Gough Island is considered the least disturbed, major, cool-temperate island ecosystem in the South Atlantic Ocean and hosts one of the most important sea-bird colonies in the world, containing 54 bird species, 22 breeding species, and four threatened species. However, on Tristan da Cunha, it is not classified as a native species and therefore is not protected.Great-winged petrel
The great-winged petrel (Pterodroma macroptera) is a petrel.Great shearwater
The great shearwater (Ardenna gravis; formerly Puffinus gravis) is a large shearwater in the seabird family Procellariidae. Ardenna was first used to refer to a seabird by Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1603, and gravis is Latin for "heavy".The great shearwater's relationships are unclear. It belongs in the group of large species that have been separated as genus Ardenna; within these, it might be allied with the other black-billed, blunt-tailed species, the short-tailed shearwater and especially the sooty shearwater. Alternatively (Austin 1996, Austin et al. 2004), it could be a monotypic subgenus (Ardenna sensu stricto), an Atlantic representative of the light-billed Hemipuffinus group (pink-footed shearwater and flesh-footed shearwater).
This species breeds on Nightingale Island, Inaccessible Island, Tristan da Cunha, and Gough Island. It is one of only a few bird species to migrate from breeding grounds in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, the normal pattern being the other way around. This shearwater nests in large colonies, laying one white egg in a small burrow or in the open grass. These nests are visited only at night to avoid predation by large gulls.
This shearwater, like the sooty shearwater, follows a circular route, moving north up the eastern seaboard of first South and then North America, before crossing the Atlantic in August. It can be quite common off the southwestern coasts of Great Britain and Ireland before heading back south again, this time down the eastern littoral of the Atlantic.
This bird has the typically "shearing" flight of the genus, dipping from side to side on stiff wings with few wingbeats, the wingtips almost touching the water. Its flight is powerful and direct, with wings held stiff and straight.
This shearwater is 43–51 cm in length with a 105– to 122-cm wingspan. It is identifiable by its size, dark upper parts, and under parts white except for a brown belly patch and dark shoulder markings. It has a black cap, black bill, and a white "horseshoe" on the base of the tail. The stiff flight, like a large Manx shearwater, is also distinctive. The only other large shearwater in its range is the all-dark sooty shearwater.
The great shearwater feeds on fish and squid, which it catches from the surface or by plunge-diving. It readily follows fishing boats, where it indulges in noisy squabbles. This is a gregarious species, which can be seen in large numbers from ships or appropriate headlands. They have a piercing eeyah cry usually given when resting in groups on the water.Grey petrel
The grey petrel (Procellaria cinerea), also called the brown petrel, pediunker or grey shearwater is a species of seabird in the Procellariidae, or petrel family. It occurs in the open seas of the Southern Hemisphere, mainly between 49°S and 32°S.Inaccessible Island
Inaccessible Island is an extinct volcano, last active six million years ago, with Cairn Peak reaching 449 m (1,473 ft). The island is 12.65 km2 (4.88 sq mi) in area, rising out of the South Atlantic Ocean 31 km (19 mi) south-west of Tristan da Cunha. Inaccessible Island is fringed with sheer sea cliffs but is accessible via a few boulder beaches. Generations of sailors were wary of the difficult landings and inhospitable terrain. Inaccessible Island has been without permanent inhabitants since 1873.
Inaccessible Island is part of the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, which is part of the overseas territory of the United Kingdom known as Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
The Tristan da Cunha archipelago is the world's most remote inhabited archipelago as it is 2,400 km (1,500 mi) from the nearest other inhabited land which is St. Helena. Tristan da Cunha itself is accessible only by sea via a seven-day sail from Cape Town, South Africa, by landing during the 60 days of the year that the harbor allows for access to the island.
Along with Gough Island, Inaccessible Island is a protected wildlife reserve and both make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands. Inaccessible Island is home to the endemic Inaccessible Island rail, the world's smallest extant flightless bird.Jasus paulensis
Jasus paulensis, also commonly known as the St Paul rock lobster, is a species of spiny lobster found in the waters around Saint Paul Island in the southern Indian Ocean and around Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean. At one time the rock lobsters on Tristan da Cunha were believed to be a separate species known as the Tristan rock lobster (Jasus tristani), but the use of mitochondrial DNA sequencing has shown them to be identical. Some authorities, for example the International Union for Conservation of Nature, retain them as separate species. The Tristan rock lobster features on the coat of arms and the flag of Tristan da Cunha.Kerguelen petrel
The Kerguelen petrel (Aphrodroma brevirostris) is a small (36 cm long) slate-grey seabird in the family Procellariidae. The species has been described as a "taxonomic oddball", being placed for a long time in Pterodroma (the gadfly petrels) before being split out in 1942 into its own genus Aphrodroma. The position within the procellariids is still a matter of debate; when it was split away from the Pterodroma petrels it was suggested that it may be a fulmarine petrel, whereas a 1998 study placed the species close to the shearwaters and the genus Bulweria.Kerguelen petrels breed colonially on remote islands; colonies are present on Gough Island in the Atlantic Ocean, and Marion Island, Prince Edward Island, Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Island in the Indian Ocean. The species attends its colonies nocturnally, breeding in burrows in wet soil. The burrows usually face away from the prevailing wind. A single egg is laid per breeding season; the egg is unusually round for the family. The egg is incubated by both parents for 49 days. After hatching the chick fledges after 60 days.Northern rockhopper penguin
Recent studies show the northern rockhopper penguin, Moseley's rockhopper penguin, or Moseley's penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) distinct from the southern rockhopper penguin.
A study published in 2009 showed that the population of the northern rockhopper had declined by 90% since the 1950s. For this reason, the northern rockhopper penguin is classified as endangered.Phylica arborea
Phylica arborea, also known as the Island Cape myrtle, is a shrub or small tree with narrow needle-like dark green leaves, downy silver on the underside, and with greenish white terminal flowers. Usually a shrub or procumbent tree, it may reach 6–7 m in height in sheltered locations. It is found on various isolated islands, including the Tristan da Cunha group and Gough Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean, as well as Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean.Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha are British Overseas Territories located in the South Atlantic and consisting of the island of Saint Helena, Ascension Island and the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha including Gough Island.
Its name was Saint Helena and Dependencies until 1 September 2009, when a new constitution came into force giving the three islands equal status as three territories, with a grouping under the Crown.Sooty albatross
The sooty albatross, dark-mantled sooty albatross or dark-mantled albatross, (Phoebetria fusca), is a species of bird in the albatross family. They breed on sub-Antarctic islands and range at sea across the Southern Ocean from South America to Australia.Subantarctic fur seal
The subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) is found in the southern parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. It was first described by Gray in 1872 from a specimen recovered in northern Australia—hence the inappropriate specific name tropicalis.Tristan albatross
The Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) is a large seabird from the albatross family. One of the great albatrosses of the genus Diomedea, it was only widely recognised as a full species in 1998.Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha (), colloquially Tristan, is a remote group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean which includes Gough Island. It is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying approximately 1,511 miles (2,432 km) off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa, 1,343 miles (2,161 km) from Saint Helena and 2,166 miles (3,486 km) off the coast from the Falkland Islands.The territory consists of the inhabited island, Tristan da Cunha, which has a diameter of roughly 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) and an area of 98 square kilometres (38 sq mi), and the wildlife reserves of Gough Island and Inaccessible Island and the smaller, uninhabited Nightingale Islands. As of October 2018, the main island has 250 permanent inhabitants who all carry British Overseas Territories citizenship. The other islands are uninhabited, except for the personnel of a weather station on Gough Island.
Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory with its own constitution. There is no airstrip of any kind on the main island, meaning that the only way of travelling in and out of Tristan is by boat, a six-day trip from South Africa.
|Climate data for Gough Island (1961–1990, extremes 1956–1990)|
|Record high °C (°F)||26.4
|Average high °C (°F)||17.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||13.9
|Average low °C (°F)||11.1
|Record low °C (°F)||5.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||210
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||16||13||18||19||21||22||23||21||20||18||16||18||225|
|Average relative humidity (%)||81||82||82||82||82||83||83||83||81||81||81||81||82|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||183.8||148.8||123.3||95.6||83.7||60.4||71.7||87.5||101.6||128.5||161.4||182.9||1,429.2|
|Source #1: NOAA, Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes)|
|Source #2: climate-charts.com|
|Tristan da Cunha|
Outlying territories of European countries
Territories under European sovereignty but closer to or on continents other than Europe (see inclusion criteria for further information).
|British Overseas Territories|