GOUGH ISLAND /ˈɡɒf/ , also known historically as GONçALO ÁLVARES
(after the Portuguese explorer) or mistakenly as DIEGO ALVAREZ, is a
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 uninhabited except for
the personnel of a weather station (usually six people) which the
South African National Antarctic Programme has maintained continually
on the island since 1956. It is one of the most remote places with a
constant human presence.
It is a remote, rugged, and lonely place, 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)
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
Gough Island and
Inaccessible Island comprise the
Heritage Site of
Gough and Inaccessible Islands
Gough and Inaccessible Islands .
* 1 Name
* 2 History
* 3 Geography and geology
* 3.1 Climate
* 4 Fauna and flora
* 4.1 Birds
* 4.2 Mammals
* 4.3 Invasive species
* 4.3.1 Pearlwort (Sagina procumbens)
* 4.3.2 House mice
* 5.1 Human presence
* 6 Maps
Gough Island in popular Culture
* 7.1 Non-fiction
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 10 External links
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. According to some historians, the English merchant Anthony de
la Roché was the first to land on the island, in the austral autumn
Charles Gough rediscovered the island on 3 March 1732, thinking it
was Gonçalo Álvares. It had been named
Gonçalo Álvares since 1505
after the captain of
Vasco da Gama
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 Amethyst which remained on the island in 1806–1807.
Scottish National Antarctic Expedition
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 Quest
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
World Heritage Site . In 2004, the site was extended to
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.
GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY
Geography of Gough Island
Geography of Gough 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
Precipitation is high for all of the year and sunshine
hours are low. Snow falls in the interior, but it's rare at sea level.
CLIMATE DATA FOR GOUGH ISLAND (1961–1990, EXTREMES 1956–1990)
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS (≥ 1.0 MM)
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
Source #1: NOAA,
Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes)
Source #2: climate-charts.com
FAUNA AND FLORA
Blechnum and tree
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
Gough moorhen , and the critically endangered Gough
The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, which breeds on the island
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).
Elephant seal at
Gough Island depicted on a 1954 Tristan da
The island has a large breeding population of subantarctic fur seals
and some southern right whales still migrate around the island.
House mice are currently present on the island. (see Invasive Species
Pearlwort (Sagina Procumbens)
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
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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 £7.6m eradication programme was planned, and set to
begin in 2019, with the island expected to be mouse free by 2021. The
programme will use helicopters to drop cereal pellets laced with the
rodenticide brodifacoum . As of May 2016, it is estimated that the
mice are killing as many as 600,000 chicks a year on the island,
threatening the extinction of several species of seabirds that breed
exclusively or nearly exclusively on Gough Island.
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 to the South Western lowlands of the island in 1963 where
weather observations are more accurate.
Each year a new overwintering team arrives by ship (beginning in
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:
* A senior meteorologist
* Two junior meteorologists
* A radio technician
* A medic
* A diesel mechanic
* A number of biologists (depending on ongoing research projects)
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 died on the island and his body
was taken back to South Africa. Cause of death was choking.
GOUGH ISLAND IN POPULAR CULTURE
Martin Holdgate describes a scientific expedition to Gough Island
in 1955 in "Mountains in the Sea" (Macmillan)
South African National Antarctic Programme
SA Agulhas II
Nigel Morritt Wace
* ^ Report on the geological collections made during the voyage of
the ... British Museum (Natural History), Walter Campbell Smith,
British Museum (Natural History) – 1930 "DIEGO ALVAREZ OR GOUGH
ISLAND. By W. Campbell Smith. Gough Island, as it seems to be more
usually called, lies about 200 miles south of the Tristan da Cunha
group in latitude 40° S., longitude 10° W.1 It is about 8 miles long
by 3 ..."
* ^ Plants of Gough Island: (Diego Alvarez) Erling Christophersen
* ^ The Antarctic dictionary: a complete guide to Antarctic English
– Page 150 Bernadette Hince – 2000 -"I went for adventure. to have
Gough Island was named I. de Goncalo Alvarez on
early maps. after its discoverer. Portuguese navigator Goncalo
Alvarez. The name was later corrupted to I. Diego Alvarez. and there
was confusion about the locality. It was renamed after Captain Charles
Gough of the British barque Richmond. who sighted the island in 1713."
* ^ Raymond John Howgego, Historical Encyclopedia of Atlantic
Vigias, London, 2015
* ^ "South African Journal of Science –
Gough Island 500 years
after its discovery: a bibliography of scientific and popular
literature 1505 to 2005". Scielo.org.za. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
* ^ Wace N.M. (1969). "The discovery, exploitation and settlement
Tristan da Cunha Islands". Proceedings of the Royal
Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch). 10:
* ^ Capt. Francisco de Seixas y Lovera, Descripcion geographica, y
derrotero de la region austral Magallanica. Que se dirige al Rey
nuestro señor, gran monarca de España, y sus dominios en Europa,
Emperador del Nuevo Mundo Americano, y Rey de los reynos de la
Filipinas y Malucas, Madrid, Antonio de Zafra, 1690. (Relevant
* ^ J.-F.G. de la Pérouse, F.A.M. de la Rúa. A Voyage Round the
World, Performed in the Years 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, by the
Boussole and Astrolabe: Under the Command of J.-F.G. de la Pérouse,
Volume 1. London: Lackington, Allen, and Company, 1807. pp.71-81.
* ^ Gough's log is preserved in the East India Collection at the
British Library. The entry for 3 March 1732 is printed in Gabriel
Wright (pub.), "A New Nautical Directory for the East-India and China
Navigation", 7th edn, London, 1804, p. 394.
* ^ Heaney, J.B., Holdgate, M.W. (1957). The Gough Island
Scientific Survey.The Geographical Journal, Vol. 123, No. 1, pp.
* ^ Rudmose Brown, R. N.; Pirie, J. H.; Mossman, R. C. (2002). The
Voyage of the Scotia. Edinburgh: Mercat Press. pp. 132–34. ISBN
* ^ Wild, Frank (1923). "Chapter XIII: Diego Alvarez or Gough
Island". Shackleton\'s last voyage: The Story of the Quest.
www.archive.org. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
* ^ "Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean". Btinternet.com. Archived
from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
* ^ "Gough Island". Sanap.ac.za. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
* ^ Encyclopedia of the Antarctic, Volume 1, p. 471
* ^ "
Gough Island Climate Normals 1961−1990" . National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
* ^ "Klimatafel von
Gough Island / Südatlantik / Großbritannien"
(PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the
world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved November 18,
* ^ "Climate Statistics for Gough Island, South Africa". 20
* ^ "Gough and Inaccessible Islands".
Retrieved 3 January 2017.
* ^ Cuthbert, J. & Sommer, E. Population size and trends of four
globally threatened seabirds at Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean.
Marine Ornithology 32: 97–103.
* ^ Roots, Clive (2006). Flightless birds. Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-313-33545-1 . Retrieved 2008-03-31.
* ^ "Gough Island". Important Bird Areas factsheet. BirdLife
International. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
* ^ Cooper, J. et al., "Earth, fire and water: applying novel
techniques to eradicate the invasive plant, procumbent pearlwort
Sagina procumbens, on Gough Island, a
World Heritage Site in the South
Invasive Species Specialist Group , 2010, Retrieved on 12
* ^ Bisser, P. et al., "Strategies to eradicate the invasive plant
Sagina procumbens on Gough Island, 2010",
Retrieved on 12 February 2014.
* ^ R M Wanless; A Angel; R J Cuthbert; G M Hilton; P G Ryan
(2007). "Can predation by invasive mice drive seabird extinctions?" .
Biology Letters. 3 (3): 241–244. doi :10.1098/rsbl.2007.0120 . PMC
2464706 . PMID 17412667 .
* ^ R. J. Cuthbert1 , P. Visser et al., "Preparations for the