Kenneth Setzer

Ocean Rocks, Remote and Romantic — A Series for Those Who Stare at Maps

I’ve always loved to think and daydream. And maps and globes have always been catalysts to my daydreaming and pondering — particularly the little dots in the middle of nowhere with barely a name to indicate they are something other than a map printer’s error.

It sometimes feels like every square inch of land, and much of the sea, is bought up, owned, used, and mapped. There are still some places however, due to remoteness, inhospitableness, or just plain lack of interest, that remain uninhabited and mostly unmolested by humans. These places are often called “ocean rocks” or specks of land seemingly out of place and time, jutting up from the depths and offering little to the traveler in the way of rest or comfort.

For this series, I need to narrow things down a bit. The tiny specks of land I’m interested in are islands, it’s true, but there are thousands of tiny islands throughout the world. My criteria are loose and subjective, but boil down to islands that are:

1) Pretty remote
2) Uninhabited by humans
3) Difficult to access even when reached
4) Above water under normal circumstances (i.e. not inundated in high tides)
5) Unappealing to normal people

Since very long blog posts seem to be something best avoided, I’ll break this subject up into parts. Note: None of these images were taken by me, unfortunately.

Part 1. Rockall

(Above image:

Besides having a cool name, this volcanic vestige has been a point of contention over ownership on and off for years. As of a 1972 Act of Parliament, the UK has claimed Rockall as a part of Scotland (it sits about 280 miles northwest of Scotland). But really, “ownership” boils down to being able to claim fishing and oil rights; only a nutcase like me would want to land on Rockall.

Location of Rockall in North Atlantic Ocean

Humans throughout history have of course landed on Rockall, some managing to climb to the top (including members of Greenpeace). But there is other life there, some of a more permanent nature: “Considering the size and extremely unfavourable conditions, there is quite a lot of wildlife on Rockall: a fluke worm (Trematode), the rough periwinkle (Littorina rudis), a common amphipod (Hyale nilssoni), an orange rotifer (Rotifer), common mites (Hyadesia fusca, Ameronothrus)” (

Greenpeace occupancy of Rockall. Their shelter is attached to the rock to avoid being washed away.

Birds seen using Rockall as a rest stop and toilet include: fulmars, gannets, kittiwakes, and guillemots (ibid). I encourage you to do a Google image search for “Rockall.” There are some great photos showing how sheer and sudden Rockall is! It’s sort of frightening. Can you even imagine summiting Rockall, and maybe spending the night with those massive and ice-cold north Atlantic waves along with the ghosts of the hundreds drowned in collisions?

By far the most comprehensive info on Rockall on the web I have found can be viewed here:

Next Ocean Rock: Ball’s Pyramid

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Take a look at my collection of photos on Flickr

%d bloggers like this: