Carey Islands

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Carey Islands
Björlingø (1894)
Björlingø (1894)
Waters Baffin Bay
Geographical location 76 ° 43 ′  N , 72 ° 50 ′  W Coordinates: 76 ° 43 ′  N , 72 ° 50 ′  W
Carey Islands (Greenland)
Carey Islands
Number of islands 6th
Main island Nordvestø
Total land area 17.5 km²
Residents uninhabited

The Carey Islands ( Danish Carey Øer , Inuktun Kitsissut ) are an uninhabited group of islands off the north-west coast of Greenland in Baffin Bay . Administratively they belong to the Avannaata Kommunia .


The Carey Islands contain the westernmost landmass of Greenland. Sometimes a little further to the west than Cape Alexander, which is 160 km further north . Its westernmost point on Nordvestø is 73 ° 15 ′ 14.7 ″ W.


f1Georeferencing Map with all coordinates: OSM | WikiMap

The isolated archipelago of six small islands and a large number of rocky islands is located about 100 km west of Thule Air Base and 50 km southwest of Cape Parry. In summer, the northern water , the largest polynya in the Canadian Arctic , extends from the southern part of Smithsund here.

The largest island in the group is Nordvestø ( Lage ) with a length of 4.5 km and a width of almost 3 km. It is 225 m high. Immediately to the east are Isbjørneø ( Lage ) and Mellemø ( Lage ), between which a natural harbor offers protection. Further east are Bordø ( Lage ) and the 300 m high island Björlingø ( Lage ) and south of Fireø ( Lage ). The diameter of the islands of Hollænderhatten ( German Dutch hat) and Tyreøjet (German porthole ) is only a few hundred meters.  


As a result of earlier glaciation of northern Baffin Bay, polished rocks determine the shape of the landscape . They mainly consist of metamorphic rocks such as gneiss with occasional dolerite dikes. Boulders that can be found on the hilltops and plateaus are also evidence of the Ice Age past .

Flora and fauna

The surface of the islands is shaped by stones. The vegetation is generally sparse and only a little denser in the vicinity of bird colonies. The location of the Carey Islands on the edge of the northern water promises seabirds in particular a rich supply of food. The remoteness of the archipelago - the nearest human settlement, Moriusaq , is 70 km away and was no longer inhabited in 2012 - protects bird populations from damage from hunting or egg collecting. At least ten species breed on the islands. The most common is the eider , which is found on all the main islands and numerous rocky islands. Other breeding birds are the thick-billed murre , the snow goose , the brent goose , the glaucous gull , the Razorbill , the black guillemot , the puffins , the Raven and the snow bunting . The Carey Islands are designated by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (GL005). Even polar bears are common.


From a European point of view, the Carey Islands were discovered on August 8, 1616 by William Baffin and Robert Bylot on their second voyage with the Discovery and named Carey's Islands . Allwin Carey was an agent hired by the financiers of the trip to handle all payments related to the trip. The islands will have been known to the Inuit before. Clements Markham found the remains of their houses there in August 1851.

While searching for the Northwest Passage , John Ross found the Carey Islands in 1818 at the position specified by Baffin, but without going ashore. From 1819, Scottish whalers in particular developed their activities in this sea area. One must have the islands in 1827 entered by them, since one in an artificial stone pile ( Cairn found a piece of wood), in which this year was scratched.

In 1892 the schooner Ripple of the Swedish expedition of Johan Alfred Björling and Evald Kallstenius (1868-1892) ran aground off the easternmost of the Carey Islands, which is therefore now called Björlingø. Björling was a 21-year-old botany student who had already been to Spitzbergen with Gustaf Nordenskiöld (1868–1895) in 1890 and who had undertaken a trip in the Umiak from Upernavik north along the coast of Melville Bay to the devil's thumb in the summer of 1891 striking mountain on the then still uninhabited island of Kullorsuaq . In 1892 Björling wanted to explore Ellesmere Island . However, the small ship of the underfunded five-person expedition ran aground off Björlingø on August 17 after the men had fetched food rations from a British depot that George Nares had put in place in 1875 as part of his North Pole expedition. An attempt to reach the Inuit settlement Etah on the Foulke Fjord by dinghy failed and the men had to return to Björlingø. After one of the men died and was buried on the island, the men tried to get to Clarence Head, the southeastern tip of Ellesmere Island, in mid-October. Since then, there has been no trace of them or the boat.

The British polar explorer James Wordie visited the Carey Islands in 1937 on his last trip to the Arctic. He created the most accurate map of the archipelago up to that point and named Isbjørneø after his ship, the Norwegian Isbjørn .

The Danish Meteorological Institute on Nordvestø has been running an automatic weather station since 1980, the work of which is repeatedly interrupted because curious polar bears damage it. The Danish flag on Isbjørneø is inspected annually by the Danish Navy .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Sailing Directions (Enroute): Greenland and Iceland (PDF; 5.4 MB), Pub. 181, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Virginia, 2010, p. 85.
  2. Weston Blake, Jr., H. Ruth Jackson, Claudia G. Currie: Seafloor evidence for glaciation, northernmost Baffin Bay (PDF; 1.45 MB). In: Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 43, 1996, pp. 157-168.
  3. a b Jennifer L. Burnham, Kurt K. Burnham: An ornithological survey of the Carey Islands, Northwest Greenland (PDF; 545 kB). In: Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift 104, 2010, pp. 26–37.
  4. GL005 Carey Islands on, accessed on 23 January 2015
  5. Thomas Rundall: Narratives of voyages towards the north-west, in search of a passage to cathay and india, 1496 to 1631 . The Hakluyt Society , London 1849, p. 141 .
  6. Miller Christy (Ed.): The Voyages of Captain Luke Foxe and Captain Thomas James, 1631-32 . Volume 1, The Hakluyt Society, London 1894, p. 165 .
  7. ^ Clements Robert Markham: Franklin's footsteps . Chapman and Hall, London 1853, p. 115 .
  8. John Ross: A voyage of discovery made under the orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's ships Isabella and Alexander, for the purpose of exploring Baffin's Bay, and inquiring into the probability of a North-West Passage , John Murray, London 1819, Pp. 146-150 .
  9. Jean Malaurie : Myth of the North Pole. 200 years of expedition history . National Geographic Germany, 2003, ISBN 3-936559-20-1 , p. 255.
  10. ^ Clements Robert Markham: Franklin's footsteps . Chapman and Hall, London 1853, p. 121 .
  11. a b Björling-Kallstenius expeditions till nordvästra Grönland 1892 , website of Göteborg University Library, accessed on January 25, 2015.
  12. Negotiations of the Society for Geography in Berlin 20, 1893, p. 175 .
  13. Michael Smith: Polar Crusader: Sir James Wordie - Exploring the Arctic and Antarctic , Birlinn, Edinburgh 2004. ISBN 1-84158-292-1 . ( limited preview in Google Book search)
  14. a b Flagskifte på Isbjørneø. HDMS KNUD RASMUSSEN og besætning occupied Isbjørneø on July 17th, 2012 ( memento of March 4th, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). on the Danish Army's website
  15. ^ Weather, Sea and Ice Conditions in Eastern Baffin Bay, Offshore Northwest greenland. A Review (PDF; 5.14 MB), Mineral Resources Administration for Greenland, 1996, ISBN 87-7478-357-2 , p. 10.
  16. Bjarne Sewertsen: Udskiftning af en ødevejrstation på Grønland . Danish Meteorological Institute website, July 30, 2010, accessed January 25, 2015.