Island in the South Orkney's group is 4 miles long and less than 3 miles
wide, lying to the south of the middle of Coronation Island. Unnamed at
the time, the appearance of the island was roughly plotted on James Weddell's
chart of 1825.
The island was given it's name by Capt.
Petter Sørlle, of the Norwegian whale-catcher Paal who made a running
survey of the island in the 1912-13 season. Captain Sørlle named the
island after his wife, Signy Sørlle.
A Norwegian biologist Lauritz Sømme worked
at the Signy Island scientific station in 1979-80 and on his return to Norway
located Signy Sørlle in Oslo. The base personnel of Signy station then sent
her a bouquet of flowers each year on her birthday. A representative of
British Antarctic Survey, D.D. Wynn-Williams visited Signy in Oslo and a
large framed photograph of Signy has hung in the base from shortly after
I am very pleased to able to present this
information about Petter Sørlle and his family after I unexpectedly received
an email from Norway from Signy Sørlle's granddaughter Anne Lind in January
Petter Sørlle made
many whaling trips in the Antarctic.
He invented the stern
slipway for factory ships in 1925. With this invention whales could
be hauled up into the factory ships at sea, thus allowing them to
operate throughout the open seas of the Southern, or Antarctic,
Ocean without returning to the land station.
But to Petter's
advantage, I must add that he also wrote many letters to newspapers
and authorities here in Norway, warning that there must be made
international regulations, in order to protect the whales from extermination.
He also invented a fire ladder and had lots of other ideas.
He'd wake up in the middle of the night and rush to the bedroom
window and make notes and sketches with charcoal on the window sill
in the moon light/street light (so as not to wake up my grandmother).
They had five daughters; Reidun, Marion, Gerd, Margrethe and
my mother Signe-Marie.
The season my grandfather mapped
and named Signy Island, he also mapped and named three tiny islands
after his (at the time) three daughters. Reid Island, Mariholm,
and Gerd Island. (Reid and Gerd are located north of Signy Island,
Mariholm to the south) (Holm is a Norwegian word for a very tiny
island) He also mapped and named Sørlle Rocks, west of Coronation
Island. (Coronation Island has a bay to the east called Petter Bay,
but I'm not sure if that was his?)
He missed his girls very
much when out to sea for months and months at a time. And he spoiled
them no end when he was home!
My grandmother's full name
was Signy Therese (maiden name: Gulbraar) Sørlle. Born May 30, 1892
in Tønsberg. Died Jan 9, 1988 in Oslo. Buried in Tønsberg.
My grandfather's full name was Petter Martin Mattias Koch Sørlle.
Born Feb 16, 1884, in Thune near Tønsberg. Died May 29, 1933 in
Tønsberg. Buried in Tønsberg.
They were married in April,
1909 in Oslo.
By the time Signy was twenty, they had three
My mother, their youngest (1924), was only 9 when
Petter died. But just like her older sisters, she has very fond
memories of Petter. He was sweet, understanding, inventive and playful.
Signy and Petter loved each other very much. She was very
sweet and also very beautiful. As I mentioned before, he missed
her very much when he had to go away for such long stretches at
a time. Maybe that's why he named the very beautiful Signy Island
Unfortunately I never got to know Petter, since
he died so relatively young. But Signy lived to be almost 96, and
I have very, very fond memories of here. We all called her `Mimi‚´.
Mimi was ever so proud of you people at Signy Island! And very, very
touched that you "boys" remembered her birthday every year!
(And I remember those wonderful bouquets as well)
Anne Lind - Norway January 2005
Map of the world centered on Signy
map of Signy. I tried to find a "normal map" but couldn't and then spotted
the obvious - this map that I made and hangs over my desk. It is of whalebone
cut using a fine bladed saw in the Antarctic winter in the way that many
of us used to do, spending the time making mementoes and souvenirs of our
time with available materials.
Nice pieces of whalebone were at a premium
for such work. Whale bone itself was in plentiful supply not too far away
as the BAS base was built on the site of a Norwegian whaling station that
was built by the Tønsberg Hvalfangeri A/S company in 1920-21 and manned
during the summer months only in the late 1920's.
When whales had been flensed of their blubber
and other useful products, the carcass was pushed back into the sea to float
away and decompose. Many of the carcasses didn't make it very far and there
were substantial amounts of whalebone around beaches and coves near to the
The date on the map says 1986, but the whale
that the bone came from would have died 50-60 years earlier.
Places marked from top moving clockwise are:
North Point, Robin Peak, Jane Peak, Base
'H', Rusty Bluff, Gourlay (peninsula), Shagnasty, Cummings, Tioga (central),