Place-name of the Month – Jan/Feb 2015

Bye(rs Peninsula)Byers Peninsula image

As this is my final place-name of the month article, I thought I would mark the occasion by choosing a farewell place-name…

Byers Peninsula (62° 37′ 59″ S, 61° 3′ 58″ W) is located at the west end of Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands, and was first visited by nineteenth-century sealers. It was photographed from the air by FIDASE in 1956-57 and surveyed from the ground by FIDS in 1957-58, who worked out of the temporary field camp, Base P (Livingston Island). It is named after James Byers, a New York shipowner, who tried unsuccessfully in August 1820 to induce the US Government to found a settlement in and take possession of the South Shetland Islands and who sent out a fleet of American sealers to the islands in 1820-21 to be based first at Rugged Island and later in Yankee Harbour, Greenwich Island.

The peninsula has been an ASPA since 1967 due to its diversity of plant and animal life, numerous freshwater pools which make it a significant limnological site, its unusually extensive cyanobacterial mats, the diverse petrel and penguin breeding colonies, its lakes which are important palaeoenvironmental sites, its numerous fossils, and for its geological sites which are considered of outstanding scientific value. During the International Polar Year, Byers Peninsula was also established as an ‘International Antarctic Reference Site for Terrestrial, Freshwater and Coastal Ecosystems’. This high-resolution WorldView2 image (copyright DigitalGlobe) of Byers Peninsula was purchased as part of a project between MAGIC and the Environment Office to map vegetation cover within ASPAs.