Eldey island

The island Eldey is a 77 m high sheer rock island araound 15 km southwest of Reykjanes. The island is made of hylaciastite with an area of around 0,03 km2. Eldey is a part of a cluster of rocks and skerries extending 85 km otu to sea called Fuglasker or Bird-skerries.

Eldey is by far the biggest Gannet colony in Iceland and the throne of the Atlantic queen. Around 30.000 pairs of Gannets breed in Iceland, and of those, around 16.000 in Eldey. Eldey is one of the biggest Gannet colonies in the Atlantic.

The Gannets nests are mounds made of seaweed and dry grass glued together with guano. Parts of fishing nets and strings can also be found in the nests, but these can harm the young if they get entangled. The Gannet lays one egg in April, and incubation takes around 44 days with the young spending around 90 days in the nest. Tehy leave the island in the autumn when they glide off the edge and have to fend for themselves from then on. During the day the Gannet colony is far from being að quiet place. The calls of the adults are harsh and grating, and they defend their nests vigorously so the neighbours do not steal their nesting material.

Eldey is the last known breeding ground of the Great Auk (Pinguinus Impennis), and the last peir was killed there on June 3, 1844. The Great Auk was the biggest of the Auk family and flightless. Before 1844 the Great Auk population had declined fast andi n 1830 Geirfuglasker, which in English would mean the Island of the Great Auk, disappeared following colcanic acticity. Geirfuglasker was a big Great Auk colony, and Icelanders used tog o to the island to collect birds and eggs.

The Rock has been conquered several times by climbers and brave people almost certainly sought birds and eggs there in the past. Geologists estimate that 10 eruptions have taken place in this area during historic times and the eruption in 1783 is the best documented one.

At that time an island was created and called Nyey (The New Island). It was immediately dedicated to the Danish king, but it soon disappeared again. Some tectonic movements and small eruptions took place in 1970-71. British fishermen and sailors called the Eldey island "Count Rock" and "Flour Sack". During heavy seas and high winds the breakers on the cliffs and skerries are several dozen feet high. In this relatively unstable and unsafe ocean area are rich fishing grounds (herring, lobster etc.). The main sailing route lies between Island Eldey and the mainland and about 5 nautical miles further to the soutwest are the skerries Geirfuglasker (Big Auk Skerries).