The penguins of Bouvetøya
March 8, 2002 3:44 PM   Subscribe

The penguins of Bouvetøya (aka Bouvet), a tiny island in the South Atlantic claimed by Norway, have been denied independence by Oslo. (Last link is in French, translated inside.)
posted by Mo Nickels (8 comments total)
(I could not find this story in any English media at all. It'll probably take a day or two to surface.)

Headline: Noway officially refuses to grant independence to the penguins

One couldn't say that the Norwegian government doesn't have a sense of humor. In a rare moment of bureaucratic joviality, the minister of justice officially refused Friday to grant independence to the penguins of the island of Bouvetøya, the sole inhabitants, besides the seals, of one of the most isolated islands on the planet, in Antarctica.

The demand sprang from an obscure Norwegian support group for the liberation of Bouvetøya, a glacial island 58 km square, under Norwegian sovereignty since 1927.

The group also demanded the liberation of the captive penguins in the country's zoos, as well as a dignified funeral for one penguin stuffed strutting in a museum in Oslo.

A joke, maybe. But as confirmed in a deadpan fashion by the high functionary of the ministry of justice, Morten Ruud, "If someone takes the trouble to write an amusing letter, I can respond to them in the same tone."

That explains his reponse: the problem is the seals. The government of Oslo, attached to democracy, notes that the call for independence of the penguins champions a minority cause: there are more seals than penguins on Bouvetøya. And "there exists a well-founded stronghold of local democracy," since the majority seals often chase the penguins. Others might call that the law of the strongest...

As for the penguins in captivity, affirms the official, they come from somewhere other than the island. And they could not then be represented by the "Bouvetistes."

No official reaction from the island was available at press time.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:46 PM on March 8, 2002

Morten Ruud has a good sense of humour. Great link Mo.
posted by riffola at 5:49 PM on March 8, 2002

ha ha ha ha

goddamn I wish I lived in Norway sounds like my kind of place
posted by Settle at 6:48 PM on March 8, 2002

From the first link in the FPP:
On September 22, 1979, a nuclear bomb test occurred between Bouvetøya and Marion Island. No-one ever claimed responsibility for the test, though suspicion has fallen on South Africa. The test was detected by satellite, and radioactive debris was later detected by personnel at Mawson and Casey, Australian Antarctic Territory.
Wow, maybe I'm horribly naive, but I didn't know there was such a thing as an "unclaimed" nuclear explosion.
posted by hob at 6:50 PM on March 8, 2002

The island is rarely visited, but two events in its history are rather mysterious. First, a sunken lifeboat and assorted supplies were discovered on the island in 1964, but their origin could not be determined. Then, in September 1979, a thermonuclear bomb blast was detected to the west of Bouvetoya, though no country ever admitted to setting off a nuclear device there.
posted by riffola at 7:15 PM on March 8, 2002

How can a lifeboat be both sunken and on an island?
posted by obfusciatrist at 7:50 PM on March 8, 2002

Nuclear tests and mysterious collections of lifeboat supplies....

I think those penguins are up to something.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:21 PM on March 8, 2002

The Flash in the Atlantic (scroll down) was once considered evidence of a possible South African nuke test (other candidates could have been Israel). More sources. Israel possibly copped to it later on. Although Los Alamos has long maintained it had a nuclear signature, there was precious little other evidence (e.g. radioactivity); and from the beginning the Carter White House position that it was probably not a nuke test cast doubt on the finding. I'm pretty certain I saw another study of the flash a few years ago that attributed it to a solar radiation event, but I can't find a link.
posted by dhartung at 11:04 PM on March 8, 2002

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