Elephant Island is located in the continent of Antarctica, which is a mountainous island covered in snow. It is among the remote islands of the South Shetland Islands. The explorers gave the island its name in commemoration of the elephant seals that lived on the shores of the island. It is also believed that explorer George Powell (who first sighted the island in 1821) was the one who named the island for its elephant-like shape and the presence of elephant seals. Therefore, your travel to Elephant Island will consist mostly of interacting with these elephant seals and exploring the mountainous an ice-covered landscape. The island is uninhabited by humans but there are two shelters in the island designed as refuge and headquarters for the researchers working on the island.
There is no native flora and fauna in the Elephant Island. However, migratory gentoo penguins are often seen in the island. In some cases, chinstrap penguins also flock to the island during nesting season. There is no safe anchorage in the island resulting in lack of human settlement. Despite that, travel to Elephant Island is still explored by those who are into fishing and whaling activities, as well as scientific research on the island.
There are several historic sites that can be found in Elephant Island such as Point Wild. This historic site or monument features an Endurance Memorial Site, several plaques and a bust of Captain Pardo.
Quick Facts on Elephant Island
- The population in Elephant Island is 0. The only people who live in the Elephant Island are researchers who have camped in the island during summer. However, no permanent human settlement is found in Elephant Island.
- Elephant Island is within the Antarctic claims of countries like UK, Argentina and Chile.
- The maximum elevation in Elephant Island is Pardo Ridge, which is 853 meters above sea level.
- The average wind speed in Elephant Island is at 100 miles per hour. Meanwhile, the average climate is foggy with some snow.
- Elephant Island is administered under the Antarctic Treaty.
Travel to Elephant Island is difficult; you need to board specialized cruise ships to get to the island. Much of the reason for the lack of voyage to the island is its unforgiving climate. For the most part of the year, the sea surrounding Elephant Island is closed by ice (mostly from April to December). The average temperature in the Elephant Island is at 0 degree Celsius.
Over the past few years, the glaciers have retreated significantly. Despite of this change, the island is still largely covered in snow and ice even during the summer time. The average climate is mostly cloudy with a lot of westerly winds.
The warmest period in the Elephant Island is from January to February with a mean summer temperature of 1.5 degree Celsius. Meanwhile, the temperature during the winter can go down to -5 degree Celsius.
My Stories on Elephant Island
Travel to Elephant Island Resources
- South Shetland Islands
- Elephant Island, Antarctica – Journals
- Point Wild
- Antarctic cruise: Sailing in the wake of Shackleton
- Travels in Geology: Antarctica: Following in the footsteps of giants