Bear Island

Filed Under: Arctic, Geography

Bear Island Spitsbergen
“Bjørnøya map-en” by Pinpin – Translated from Image:Bjørnøya map-fr.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bear Island

Spitzbergen (Norway)

Bear Island 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.

  • 10 June 1596 Discovered by Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemskerk
  • 1898 Reclaimed by Theodor Lerner for the German Reich
  • 1920 Annexed by Norway

It is overcast but the barometer reading is high. They arrive at the south harbour of Bear Island at two in the morning on 30 June 1908: seven obsessive birdwatchers on the steamship Strauss, along with four taxidermists and a gunsmith. Baron Hans von Berlepsch, the founder of the bird protection movement, is standing on deck with a pair of binoculars slung round his neck and, by the grace of Barbarossa, five parakeets on his coat of arms. Silent, he listens in the dark to the song of the birds that he has only know from books until now.

Schalansky, J. Atlas of Remote Islands, Penguin Books Ltd. London, 2010, P28 (978-1-846-14348-9)