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GOUGH ISLAND SCIENTIFIC SURVEY 1955-1956

This island came to my attention in an eBay auction. Two Tristan Da Cunha QEII pictorials are postmarked Gough Island / */ 22 FE/ 56/ South Atlantic on an airmail registered cover with a Tristan Da Cunha registration label and a boxed GOUGH ISLAND/ SCIENTIFIC SURVEY/ 1955-1956 marking. The cover was addressed to a Landsborough, N(orth) C(oast) Line, Queensland address and it is probably of philatelically contrived origin(Figure 1).

A similar second cover has a total of 1 shilling 11 pence Tristan stamps with an identical boxed marking looks more bona fide, and was sent in 1955 to a Kiama N.S.W. address, but it had an exorbitant price of USD 110 (Figure 2).

Another philatelically contrived cover that never saw postal service had a Republic of South Africa stamp postmarked Tristan Da Cunha, postmarked 1-SEP- 81, the year date inserted by manuscript, purportedly on the occasion of another survey (Figure 3).

Gough Island (also called Diego Alvarez) is a volcanic island rising from the South Atlantic Ocean to heights of over 900 metres above sea level and has an area of approximately 65 km². It includes many small named satellite islands and rocks. It is a remote and lonely place, about 350 km southeast of the other islands in the Tristan da Cunha group, 2700 km from Cape Town, and over 3200 km from the nearest point of South America.

It is a possession of the United Kingdom, but the only inhabitants are the crew of a weather station which South Africa has maintained continuously on the island since 1956. The island is named for Charles Gough, who reputedly rediscovered it in 1731. Gough and Inaccessible Islands are a protected wildlife reserve, which has been designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It has been described as one of the least disrupted ecosystems of its kind and one of the best shelters for nesting seabirds in the Atlantic. In particular, it is host to almost the entire world population of the Tristan Albatross and the Atlantic Petrel.

The numbers of non-native species range from up to almost 1,200 on Bermuda Island to zero on the South Sandwich Islands. Invasive species are responsible for the greatest loss of biodiversity on the islands, and are second only to habitat loss globally as a major cause of extinctions.

A sum of £62,000 has been donated by the UK government's Overseas Territories Environment Programme to fund additional research on the Gough Island mice (human-introduced, unusually large and very aggressive to the nesting birds) and a feasibility study of how best to deal with them.

Gough Island is located at 40°19' S 9°55' W in the South Atlantic. Topographic features include the High Peak, Mount Argus, Hags Tooth, Mount Rowett, Sea Elephant Bay, Quest Bay, and the Hawkins Bay.

This information has been obtained from the site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gough_Island.


 
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