Byers Peninsula

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Location of Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands
Topographic map of Livingston Island.

Byers Peninsula is a mainly ice-free peninsula forming the west end of Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It occupies 60 km2 (23 sq mi),[1] and includes the small freshwater Basalt Lake. Byers Peninsula has a regime of special environmental protection under the Antarctic Treaty System and requires a permit to enter.[2]


The feature was named by the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee in 1958 for James Byers, a New York shipowner who tried unsuccessfully in August 1820 to induce the United States Government to found a settlement in and take possession of the South Shetland Islands. Byers organized and sent out a fleet of American sealers from New York to the South Shetland Islands in 1820–21. It was visited by early 19th century American and British sealers who came almost exclusively from New England, New York and England. They operated on President Beaches, Robbery Beaches and South Beaches, and built dwellings and shelter such as those still preserved at Sealer Hill and Lair Point.[3]

Antarctic Specially Protected Area[edit]

The peninsula has been designated an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA 126) for its outstanding environmental values (specifically its biological diversity and terrestrial and lake ecosystems), and a combination of other values including scientific (terrestrial biology, limnology, ornithology, palaeolimnology, geomorphology and geology), historic (artefacts and refuge remains of early sealers) and wilderness values. It has diverse and well-developed vegetation, numerous lakes and freshwater pools which support the restricted-range insects Parochlus steinenii and Belgica antarctica, and well-preserved sub-fossil whale bones in raised beaches. It also has the greatest concentration of historical sites in Antarctica, containing the remains of refuges, with their contemporary artefacts, and shipwrecks of early 19th century sealing expeditions.[4] The eastern boundary of the protected area was shifted eastwards to 60º53'45"W in 2016 to include besides Byers Peninsula also all ice-free ground and ice sheet west of Clark Nunatak and Rowe Point. Two restricted zones have been designated that are of scientific importance to Antarctic microbiology with greater restriction placed on access with the aim of preventing microbial or other contamination by human activity: Northwestern Rotch Dome and adjacent deglaciated ground on Ivanov Beach, and Ray Promontory.[5]

Important Bird Area[edit]

The site has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports breeding colonies of Antarctic terns (1760 pairs) and kelp gulls (450 pairs). Other birds nesting on the peninsula include chinstrap and gentoo penguins, Wilson's and black-bellied storm petrels, Cape petrels, southern giant petrels, imperial shags, brown skuas and snowy sheathbills. Large numbers of southern elephant seals haul out during their breeding season.[6]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ L.L. Ivanov. Antarctica: Livingston Island and Greenwich, Robert, Snow and Smith Islands. Scale 1:120000 topographic map. Troyan: Manfred Wörner Foundation, 2010. ISBN 978-954-92032-9-5 (First edition 2009. ISBN 978-954-92032-6-4)
  2. ^ Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 126 Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands. SCAR Bulletin 150, July 2003.
  3. ^ Ivanov, L. General Geography and History of Livingston Island. In: Bulgarian Antarctic Research: A Synthesis. Eds. C. Pimpirev and N. Chipev. Sofia: St. Kliment Ohridski University Press, 2015. pp. 17-28. ISBN 978-954-07-3939-7
  4. ^ "Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands" (PDF). Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 126: Measure 1. Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. 2002. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  5. ^ Management Plan for Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 126 Byers Peninsula. Measure 4 (2016), ATCM XXXIX Final Report. Santiago, 2016.
  6. ^ "Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island". BirdLife data zone: Important Bird Areas. BirdLife International. 2012. Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 

Coordinates: 62°38′S 61°05′W / 62.633°S 61.083°W / -62.633; -61.083