It was on 14th of November 1963, a cook on the sailing trawler saw dark smoke rising from the surface of the sea, the captain of the ship turned to investigate, and he noticed the birth of an island due to Volcanic eruption from below the surface of the sea. This new island was later named as Surtsey Island.
The eruptions of the volcano continued for a number of years afterwards also, the new island reached an height of 147 feet above sea level and measured over 1640 feet. The island continued to grow as the eruptions continued for three and half years till June 1967. At this time the island had reached its maximum size of 2.7 sq.Km. As of 2002, according to the Surtsey Research society the Surtsey Island has a surface area of 1.4 sq. km. Most recent reports mentioned in 2007 show that the island being 509 feet above sea level and as per the current rate of wind and wave erosion the island shall be almost below sea level by 2100.
About The Island
Surtsey Island is located 32 kilometers from the Southern coast of Iceland in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago; it is the southernmost point of Iceland. Different botanical and biological species colonized on this original barren island, this has lured many botanists and biologists to study the life forms that have grown there. The eruption that has caused the birth of Surtsey Island has also given rise to several other small islands and there are few unnamed peaks there.
Surtsey Island is the classic site for the study of bio-colonization. Even as the eruptions were in process in the year 1965, the Surtsey Island was declared as a nature reserve. Presently only few scientists are given permission to land on the Island from a small plane, in order to allow the natural ecological succession to continue without foreign interference. UNESCO declared this Island as World Heritage Site in the year 2008 to appreciate and preserve the great scientific value of this island.
Highly Protected Land
Surtsey Island is a highly protected and controlled island with isolated environment with limited threats. The visit of scientists are limited and strictly prohibited to avoid any human interference in the colonization of plants and animals. The main idea behind restricting the human interference is to avoid artificial influence and the biotic succession and shaping of the geological formations shall be totally natural. There is a small but functional marine buffer zone and the people are prohibited to go ashore or dive by the island. Nearby construction is also strictly controlled.
Being free from human interference the new born Surtsey Island serves as a prestigious natural laboratory, and due to this continued protection the Surtsey Island will provide valuable information regarding biological colonization and give good data on the evolution of various species of plants and animals.
Mosses and lichens were among the first to arrive on the island. By 2008 there were 69 species of plants found on Surtsey, of which only 30 had been established. Seals were the first to appear around the island and by 1983 the island had become a breeding ground for the seals. Flying insects were the first to be noticed as early as 1964.