Bear Island, in Norwegian called and in Dutch ‘Bereneiland’, is situated in the Barents Sea at 74°25' N and 19°00' E. The island is rather isolated: about 450 km to the south the most nearby land is the Norwegian Nordkapp and to the north about 230 km of sea must be crossed before reaching the the most southern point of Spitsbergen. Bjørnøya belongs geographically to Svalbard (meaning “Cold Coast”), the group of islands in the Arctic Ocean under Norwegian sovereignity. The most important and best known island of this group is Spitsbergen. The name of the island was established in 1596 when two Dutch sailingvessels discovered the island during an attempt to find a passage east to China along the north. Gerrit de Veer was writer on board of one of these ships of which the captain was Jacob Heemskerck and the navigator Willem Barentsz. De Veer accurately described the killing of a “white bear” near the island and tells that they consequently named the island “Beyren Eylandt”.