Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

And They Named It Dodgy Island

Greenland is ice, Iceland is nice—and Carcass Island is full of penguins. In this installment, let's investigate some of the more suspicious-sounding islands out there and see whether they live up to their altogether uninviting toponyms.

Name: Deception Island
Location: The South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula
Does it live up to its name? Yes. Deception Island is a nearly perfect circle with a small inlet leading to a geothermal bay—a researcher from SUNY-Geneseo describes it as "a donut with a small bite taken out." The entrance is almost completely obscured; you can only find your way in if you know precisely where to go. Also, once you get inside the bay… there's an active underwater volcano.

Name: No-Name Island
Location: Ten acres of alluvial land in the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania
Does it live up to its name? No. I mean, No-Name is still a name, right? Congress seemed to think so; the island was formally established (along with six others) as part of the Allegheny River Islands Wilderness area in 1984.

Name: Carcass Island
Location: The Falkland Islands
Does it live up to its name? No. Carcass Island was named after the ominous-sounding HMS Carcass, which surveyed the area in the 1760s. No notable carcasses are to be found there, especially after fences were put up prevent the local gentoo penguins from attacking the sheep.

Name: Mafia Island
Location: Off the coast of Tanzania
Does it live up to its name? Nope. The name probably comes from the Arabic word "morfiyeh" meaning "archipelago." Mafia Island is home to a marine wildlife center, rare birds and maybe a pygmy hippo or two—but no members of the Cosa Nostra. Sorry, Tony.

Name: Barren Island
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Does it live up to its name? No. But have you ever wondered how nearby Dead Horse Bay got its name? The area was once home to a plant that processed horses into glue. Barren Island doesn't even live up to the "island" part of its name; it was connected to the rest of Brooklyn through reclaimed land in 1926.

Name: Inaccessible Island
Location: There are a few of them, actually, the largest is part of Tristan da Cunha archipelago.
Does it live up to its name? No. Try a boat? Seriously, you can take a cruise there.

Name: Bear Island
Location: Upper Norway, part of the Svalbard archipelago
Does it live up to its name? Yes! Though they're not in year-round residence, the island positively crawls with polar bears in winter.

Name: Quarantine Island
Location: The largest island in Otago Harbour, near Dunedin, New Zealand
Does it live up to its name? Yes. Though Quarantine Island is now a public reserve, from 1863 until 1924 all incoming sailors with infectious diseases were kept on the island until they recovered or died.

Name: Funk Island
Location: Just off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Canada
Does it live up to its name? Yes. By all accounts, the island smells TERRIBLE, because it's covered in bird shit. The island houses millions of birds (but not a single member of Parliament).

Name: Obstruction Island
Location: The San Juan Islands, Washington
Does it live up to its name? Sort of. An American explorer christened it Obstruction Island because he felt the island mucked up what could have been a clear passage for large ships between Blakely and Orcas islands. Larger ships instead take a marginally longer route around the southern end of Blakely Island.

Name: Hydra
Location: The Aegean Sea, Greece
Does it live up to its name? No. Hercules' Hydra lived in the swamps of Lake Lerna, surrounded by entirely mythological beasts, and the name is a time-worn bastardization of "hydrea," meaning "water." In addition, the Aegean is saltwater, so microscopic freshwater hydra (gross!) aren't likely, either.

Victoria Johnson is a cartographer and this is her Tumblr.

From top, photos by: Piet Barber, Stan Shebs and Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.

26 Comments / Post A Comment

If someone doesn't find me video of a penguin attacking a sheep by the end of the week, I'm going to be very disappointed.

alli525 (#16,797)

@sorry your heinous In 100% agreement. This needs to happen.

laurel (#4,035)

I'd like to see a penguin hop on a sheep's back and ride him around.

Times like this I wish it were spelled "Vinylhaven" and had, like, all these record stores and shit and all the cars were Reliant Ks and had no doors. And basically just everybody wore Rush t-shirts all the time and the store had every flavor of Dorito ever made including burrito supreme. Righteous.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

Upon reading this and after further investigation, I think I can safely assert that Deception Island is totally goddamned awesome.

sncreducer (#1,705)

My grandfather was stationed on Destruction Island during his stint in the Coast Guard:


HiredGoons (#603)

This Island? Earth.

jfruh (#713)

Prison Island's name is also misleading, as it's really a continent. And Knifecrime Island's residents commit crimes with anything that can cut or stab, not just knives per se.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

Is the Island of the Blue Dolphin really inhabited exclusively by blue dolphins?

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

If you are sailing to Obstruction Island from Seattle, you might very well go through Deception Pass.

Megano! (#16,245)

Yay Svalbard reminds me of His Dark Materials.

collier (#13,548)

@Megan Patterson@facebook : Iorek Byrnison! Totally.

Also, so disappointed Pen Island wasn't included.

@Megan Patterson@facebook I may have just sent an email with that sign and the text "The book is real! Where are our daemons?!?!"

And don't forget that culturally significant 70s artifact: Danger Island

aallingh (#20,942)

@RonMwangaguhunga If you are flying there from Seattle, you might very well go through The Danger Zone.

The Thousand Islands could use a good dressing down.

Brisbane (#20,944)


Smitros (#5,315)

And what say you of Fantasy Island?

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

Name: Manhattan Island
Does it live up to its name? Yes, although it generally transitions to Gin & Tonic Island in the summer months.

Smitros (#5,315)

@SidAndFinancy Oh, no. I thought it was Negroni season.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Smitros I laugh out loud every time I think of that story.

go4itnow (#21,034)

Write a story about the gentoo penguins attacking the sheep. I mean before they put up the fence. Are the penguins that big or the sheep that stupid.

beatrixkiddo1 (#2,988)

What a shame Funk Island isnt so named because its owned by Bootsy Collins or something. Such a good mental image.

Also, lets not forget Rat Island off the coast of Alaska! Once swarmed with rats, now critter free since 2009! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Island,_Alaska

odessalep99 (#21,137)

maybe there's a lot of Funk people in Funk Island :D Peace

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