Gough Island Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance
Gough Island, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha
MARINE PROTECTED AREA
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Gough Island (/ˈɡɒf/, rhymes with cough), also known historically as Gonçalo Álvares or Diego Alvarez, is a volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a dependency of Tristan da Cunha and part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is uninhabited except for the personnel of a weather station (usually six people) which the South African National Antarctic Programme has maintained continually on the island since 1956. It is one of the most remote places with a constant human presence.
Gough Island rises to heights of over 900 m (2,953 ft) above sea level. Its area is 35 square miles (91 km2) according to the South African Antarctic Programme . It is located at 40°19′05″S 9°56′07″W / 40.3181°S 9.9353°W / -40.3181; -9.9353Coordinates: 40°19′05″S 9°56′07″W / 40.3181°S 9.9353°W / -40.3181; -9.9353. Topographic features include the highest Peak, Edinburgh Peak, Hags Tooth, Mount Rowett, Sea Elephant Bay, Quest Bay, and Hawkins Bay.
It includes small satellite islands and rocks such as Southwest Island, Saddle Island (South), Tristiana Rock, Isolda Rock (West), Round Island, Cone Island, Lot's Wife, Church Rock (North), Penguin Island (Northeast), and The Admirals (East). It is a remote and lonely place, about 400 kilometres (250 mi) southeast of the other islands in the Tristan da Cunha group, 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi) from Cape Town, and over 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) from the nearest point of South America.
The first recorded discovery of Gough Island was in 1505 or 1506 by the Portuguese seaman Gonçalo Álvares. Maps during the next three centuries named the island for him. On some later maps, this was given as Diego Alvarez.
According to some historians, the English merchant Anthony de la Roché was the first to land on the island, in April 1675.
Charles Gough rediscovered the island in 1731, thinking it was a new find. It has since been named for him.
Gough and Inaccessible Island are a protected wildlife reserve, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has been described as one of the least disrupted ecosystems of its kind and one of the best shelters for nesting seabirds in the Atlantic. In particular, it is host to almost the entire world population of the Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) and the Atlantic Petrel (Pterodroma incerta). However, this status is now in doubt as in April 2007 researchers published evidence that predation by introduced house mice on seabird chicks is occurring at levels that might drive the Tristan Albatross and the Atlantic Petrel to extinction. The island is also home to the almost flightless Gough Island Moorhen, and the critically endangered Gough Bunting.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has since been awarded £62,000 by the UK government's Overseas Territories Environment Programme to fund additional research on the Gough Island mice and a feasibility study of how best to deal with them. The grant will also pay for the assessment of a rat problem on Tristan da Cunha island.
The weather station on Gough Island is operated as part of the network of the South African Weather Service. Because cold fronts approach South Africa from the south-west, the Gough station is particularly important in forecasting winter weather.
The Gough Island teams consist of:
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