Eldey (The Fire Island) is a 77 m high, sheer rock, with an area of 0,03 km² about 15 km south of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Its structure is hyaloclastite and the shallows continue about 84 km to the southwest. This cluster of skerries and rocks is called Fuglasker or Eldeyjar (Bird Skerries or Fire Islands). One of the cliffs, which disappeared in 1830 was the Great Auk Rock, where this magnificent bird had one of its last shelters before it was hunted to extinction in the late 19th century.
The Eldey (The Island of Fire) boasts one of the largest gannet colony in the world. At least 70.000 birds have been counted there. The Rock has been conquered several times by climbers and brave people almost certainly sought birds and eggs there in the past. Geologists estimate that 10 eruptions have taken place in this area during historic times and the eruption in 1783 is the best documented one.
At that time an island was created and called Nyey (The New Island). It was immediately dedicated to the Danish king, but it soon disappeared again. Some tectonic movements and small eruptions took place in 1970-71. British fishermen and sailors called the Eldey island “Count Rock” and “Flour Sack”. During heavy seas and high winds the breakers on the cliffs and skerries are several dozen feet high. In this relatively unstable and unsafe ocean area are rich fishing grounds (herring, lobster etc.). The main sailing route lies between Island Eldey and the mainland and about 5 nautical miles further to the soutwest are the skerries Geirfuglasker (Big Auk Skerries).
SOUTHWEST ICELAND SAGA TRAILS
Photo Credit: Dagur Brynjólfsson