Île Amsterdam

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For the Amsterdam Island in the Svalbard archipelago, see Amsterdamøya.
Amsterdam Island
(New Amsterdam)

Île Amsterdam
Flag
Motto: "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"
Anthem: La Marseillaise
Orthographic projection centred over Île Amsterdam.
Orthographic projection centred over Île Amsterdam.
Île Amsterdam
Nickname: Nouvelle Amsterdam
AmsterdamIsl Map.png
Map of Île Amsterdam.
Geography
Coordinates 37°49′33″S 77°33′17″E / 37.82583°S 77.55472°E / -37.82583; 77.55472
Area 55 km2 (21 sq mi)
Length 10 km (6 mi)
Width 7 km (4.3 mi)
Highest elevation 867 m (2,844 ft)
Highest point Mont de la Dives
Country
Demographics
Population 25
Amsterdam is located in Indian Ocean
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Location of Île Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean

Île Amsterdam (French pronunciation: ​[ilamstɛʁˈdam], also known as Amsterdam Island, New Amsterdam, or Nouvelle Amsterdam, is an island named after the ship Nieuw Amsterdam, in turn named after the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It lies in the southern Indian Ocean. It is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and, together with neighbouring Île Saint-Paul 85 km (53 mi) to the south, forms one of the five districts of the territory. Its base, the Martin-de-Viviès research station, first called Camp Heurtin, then La Roche Godon, and the only settlement on the island, is the capital of the territory and is home to about 30 non-permanent inhabitants involved in biological, meteorological and geomagnetic studies.

History[edit]

Discovery[edit]

The island was discovered by the Basque Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano on 18 March 1522, in the course of his voyage of global circumnavigation. However, he did not name the island. Having found the island unnamed, Dutch captain Anthonie van Diemen named it Nieuw Amsterdam after his ship on 17 June 1633.[1] The first recorded landing was made in December 1696 by Dutchman Willem de Vlamingh.[2]

18th century[edit]

French Captain Pierre François Péron says he was marooned from 1792 to 1795 on the island. Peron's Memoires, in which he describes his experiences, were published in a limited edition which is an expensive collectors' item.[3][4][5] There was confusion in the early days between Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands.

19th century[edit]

In Autumn 1833 the British ship Lady Munro was wrecked at the island and 21 survivors were picked up two weeks later by a sealing vessel.[6]

In January 1871 an attempt to settle the island was made by a party led by Heurtin, a French resident of Réunion Island. After seven months there, their attempts to raise cattle and grow crops were unfruitful and they returned to Réunion, abandoning the cattle on the island.[7]

The islands of Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul were first claimed by Martin Dupeyrat for France in 1843. However, the governor of Réunion refused to ratify the act of possession and France took formal control only in October 1892.[1]

20th century[edit]

The islands were attached to Madagascar in 1924 and became a French colony. The first French base on Amsterdam was established in 1949, and was originally called Camp Heurtin. The Global Atmosphere Watch still maintains a presence on Amsterdam.

Territorial claims[edit]

Amsterdam island, along with Saint Paul Island, is considered by some Mauritian parties as a national territory. The question of Mauritian sovereignty over the two islands was raised in 2007 by the leader of the opposition, Paul Raymond Berenger. This new claim could be raised in discussions with France, along with a claim to Tromelin Island which has been officially maintained for a long time.[citation needed].

Amateur Radio[edit]

In the past there were frequent amateur radio operations from Amsterdam Island between 1987 and 1998. There was even a resident radio amateur operator in the 1950s using callsign FB8ZZ. [8]

As of January 2014, Clublog listed Amsterdam and St Paul Islands as the seventh most-wanted DXCC entity.[9] On January 25, 2014 a DX-pedition landed on Amsterdam Island using M/V Braveheart and began amateur radio operations from two separate locations using callsign FT5ZM. The DX-pedition remained active until February 12, 2014 and achieved over 170000 two-way contacts with amateur radio stations worldwide.

Environment[edit]

Geography[edit]

The volcanic island is a potentially active volcano which last erupted in 1792. It has an area of 55 km2 (21 sq mi), measuring about 10 km (6.2 mi) on its longest side, and reaches as high as 867 m (2,844 ft) at the Mont de la Dives. The high central area of the island, at an elevation of over 500 metres (1,600 ft), containing its peaks and caldera, is known as the Plateau des Tourbières (in English the Plateau of Bogs). The cliffs that characterise the western coastline of the island, rising to over 700 metres (2,300 ft), are known as the Falaises d'Entrecasteaux after 18th century French navigator Bruni d'Entrecasteaux.[10]

Climate[edit]

Île Amsterdam has a mild, oceanic climate, with a mean annual temperature of 13 °C (55.4 °F), rainfall of 1,100 mm (43.3 in), persistent westerly winds and high levels of humidity.[11]

Climate data for Martin-de-Vivies, Amsterdam Island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 19.5
(67.1)
19.8
(67.6)
18.7
(65.7)
17.3
(63.1)
15.4
(59.7)
14.0
(57.2)
13.3
(55.9)
13.3
(55.9)
13.8
(56.8)
14.7
(58.5)
15.9
(60.6)
18.0
(64.4)
16.1
(61)
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.6
(61.9)
17.0
(62.6)
16.1
(61)
15.0
(59)
13.3
(55.9)
12.0
(53.6)
11.3
(52.3)
11.1
(52)
11.6
(52.9)
12.3
(54.1)
13.5
(56.3)
15.5
(59.9)
13.8
(56.8)
Average low °C (°F) 14.3
(57.7)
14.5
(58.1)
13.7
(56.7)
12.9
(55.2)
11.2
(52.2)
9.8
(49.6)
9.3
(48.7)
9.0
(48.2)
9.5
(49.1)
10.1
(50.2)
11.3
(52.3)
13.2
(55.8)
11.6
(52.9)
Precipitation mm (inches) 96
(3.78)
78
(3.07)
82
(3.23)
102
(4.02)
110
(4.33)
113
(4.45)
104
(4.09)
95
(3.74)
83
(3.27)
85
(3.35)
90
(3.54)
81
(3.19)
1,119
(44.06)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 177 145 134 110 107 99 104 121 123 141 150 170 1,581
Source: NOAA[12]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Phylica arborea grove

Vegetation[edit]

Phylica arborea trees occur on Amsterdam which, though the trees are also found on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, is the only place where they formed a low forest. It was called the Grand Bois ("Great Forest") which covered the lowlands of the island until forest fires set by sealers cleared much of it in 1825. Only eight fragments remain.[13]

Birds[edit]

The island is home to the endemic Amsterdam albatross, which breeds only on the Plateau des Tourbières. Other rare species are the great skua, Antarctic tern and western rockhopper penguin. The Amsterdam duck is now extinct, as are the local breeding populations of several petrels.[14] The common waxbill has been introduced.[15] Both the Plateau des Tourbières and Falaises d'Entrcasteaux have been identified as Important Bird Areas by BirdLife International, the latter for its large breeding colony of Indian yellow-nosed albatrosses.[10]

Mammals[edit]

There are no native land mammals. Subantarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals breed on the island. Introduced mammals include the house mouse and brown rat. Feral cats are present.[15]

A distinct breed of wild cattle, Amsterdam Island cattle, also inhabited the island from 1871 to 2010. They originated from the introduction of five animals by Heurtin during his brief attempt at settlement of the island in 1871,[15] and by 1988 had increased to an estimated 2,000. Following recognition that the cattle were damaging the island ecosystems, a fence was built restricting them to the northern part of the island.[14] In 2007 it was decided to eradicate the population of cattle entirely, resulting in the slaughter of the cattle between 2008 and 2010.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.btinternet.com/~sa_sa/amsterdam/amsterdam_history_early.html Archived October 23, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Het Scheepvaartmuseum - Maritieme Kalender Archived March 26, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Statewide County HI Archives: News, USGenWeb Archives Archived November 25, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Forum Rare Books: In the news, Antiquariaat Forum Archived May 9, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Péron (captain) (1824). Mémoires du capitaine Péron sur ses voyages aux côtes d'Afrique, en Arabie, à l'île d'Amsterdam, aux îles d'Anjouan et de Mayotte, aux côtes nord-ouest de l'Amérique, aux îles Sandwich, à la Chine, etc. Brissot-Thivars. 
  6. ^ Chronological List of Antarctic Expeditions and Related Historical Events. Cambridge University Press. 1989. ISBN 978-0-521-30903-5. 
  7. ^ Carroll, Paul (2003-06-29). "Amsterdam/St Paul: Discovery and early history". The South Atlantic and Subantarctic Islands. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  8. ^ R. M. Holoch (2012-09-16). "FT5/Z – Amsterdam / St. Paul Islands and a Special Appeal". Archived from the original on 2014-03-03. 
  9. ^ Clublog Most wanted list, updated Monthly Archived October 31, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b BirdLife International. (2012). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Falaises d'Entrecasteaux. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 2012-01-08. Archived 10 July 2007 at WebCite
  11. ^ Ile Amsterdam Archived November 19, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Climate Normals for Martin de Vivies 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Grand Bois, Amsterdam Island". Wondermondo. Archived from the original on 2014-03-22. 
  14. ^ a b Micol, T.; & Jouventin, P. (1995). Restoration of Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, following control of feral cattle. Biological Conservation 73(3): 199-206.Restoration of Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, following control of feral cattle Archived February 1, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c Amsterdam Island - Introduced fauna Archived May 11, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Sophie Lautier: "Sur l'île Amsterdam, chlorophylle et miaulements".

Further reading[edit]

  • Pierre François Péron, Mémoires du Capitaine Péron, sur ses Voyages aux Côtes d’Afrique, en Arabie, a l’Île d’Amsterdam, aux Îles d’Anjouan et de Mayotte, aux Côtes Nord-Oeust de l’Amérique, aux Îles Sandwich, a la Chine, etc., Paris 1824
  • Cleef, Alfred van (2004). The Lost Island. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-8050-7225-9. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°49′33″S 77°33′17″E / 37.82583°S 77.55472°E / -37.82583; 77.55472