Elephant Island is an uninhabited ice-covered mountainous island located off the coast of Antarctica in South Shetland Islands' outer reaches, in the Southern Ocean. The name if the island was given by early explorers who sighted elephant seals on the shores. The island has a total area of 558 km2 (215 ml2). It is situated 245 km (152 ml) north-northeast of Antarctic Peninsula's tip, 1,253 km (779 ml) westsouthwest of South Georgia, 935 km (581 ml) south of Falkland Islands, and 885 km (550 ml) southeast of Cape Horn.
Elephant Island is within Antarctic claims of the UK, Argentina and Chile. Brazil has 2 shelters on the island, Wiltgen and Goeldi, supporting the work of up to 6 researchers each during summer months.
The island is oriented east-west and has a maximum elevation of 2,799 ft (853 m) at Pardo Ridge. Important features include Cape Lookout, Cape Yelcho and Cape Valentine at the southern and northeastern extremes, as well as Point Wild, which is a spit located on the north coast. Endurance Glacier is the major discharge glacier. Because of the slow recovery and illegal whaling by Soviet Union and support from Japan, the numbers of southern right whales who visit Elephant island are on low level.
As most Antarctica islands, Elephant Island supports no native fauna or significant flora although migratory seals and gentoo penguins may be found. Chinstrap penguins nest during season. The lack of safe anchorage prevented permanent human settlement, though the island is well placed to support fishing, whaling and scientific activities.
Point Wild contains Endurance Memorial Site, Antarctic Historic Site with a bust of Capt. Pardo and a few plaques. Hampson Cove on island's south-west coast, including the intertidal and foreshore area, contains a wreckage of large wooden sailing ship. It has been designated Historic Site or Monument, following a proposal by the UK to Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
Elephant Island cruise terminal
Most cruise ships to Elephant Island dock (anchor) at Half Moon Island.
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