In 1971, Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters were designated a nature reserve. During the 1950s and 1960s, there was some interest from South Africa to establish a weather station, but conditions were deemed to be too hostile. An automated weather station was, however, set up in 1977 by the Norwegians.
On September 22, 1979, a satellite recorded a flash of light (which was later interpreted as having been caused by a nuclear bomb explosion or natural event such as a meteor) in a stretch of the southern Atlantic Ocean between Bouvet Island and Prince Edward Islands. This flash, since dubbed the Vela Incident, is still not completely resolved.