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Eldey close.jpg
Eldey in July 2010
Eldey Island.png
Eldey is located off the southwest tip of Reykjanes Peninsula.
LocationAtlantic Ocean
Coordinates63°44′27.2″N 22°57′27.2″W / 63.740889°N 22.957556°W / 63.740889; -22.957556Coordinates: 63°44′27.2″N 22°57′27.2″W / 63.740889°N 22.957556°W / 63.740889; -22.957556
Area3 ha (7.4 acres)
Highest elevation77 m (253 ft)
Aerial photograph
Statue of a great auk nearby on Reykjanestá

Eldey (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈɛltˌeiː]) is a small island about 20 kilometres (10 nautical miles) off the coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland. Located west-southwest of Reykjavík, the island of Eldey covers an area of about 3 hectares (7 acres), and rises to a height of 77 metres (253 ft). Its sheer cliffs are home to large numbers of birds, including one of the largest northern gannet colonies in the world, with around 16,000 pairs.[1] This colony can now be watched live via two webcams that are located on top of the island.[2]

Volcanic system[edit]

The Eldey and Geirfuglasker volcanic systems together form the 35-40 km long Eldey system on the mid-Atlantic ridge. There is not a central volcano.[3]

The last of the great auks[edit]

The island formerly supported the last remnant population of the flightless great auks, after the birds moved there from Geirfuglasker following a volcanic eruption in 1830. When the colony was discovered in 1835, almost fifty birds were counted. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony.[4] The last pair, found incubating an egg, were killed there in June 1844, when Icelandic sailors Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangled the adults and Ketill Ketilsson accidentally cracked the last egg of the species with his boot during the struggle.[5]

In literature[edit]


  1. ^ Bryan Nelson (2010). "Numbers and distribution". The Gannet. Poyser Monographs. A & C Black. pp. 42–90. ISBN 978-1-4081-3858-8.
  2. ^ "Eldey – Timelapse Recording from July 27th 2016". Eldey.is. 2016-07-27. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  3. ^ Icelandic Met Office Volcanoes - Eldey
  4. ^ Emily Crofford (1989). Gone Forever: The Great Auk. New York: Crestwood House. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-89686-459-7.
  5. ^ Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 160. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.

External links[edit]