The Kerguelen Islands ( or ; in French commonly ' but officially ', ), also known as the Desolation Islands (' in French), are a group of islands
in the sub-Antarctic
constituting one of the two exposed parts of the
The Kerguelen Plateau (, ), also known as the Kerguelen–Heard Plateau, is an oceanic plateau and a large igneous province (LIP) located on the Antarctic Plate, in the southern Indian Ocean. It is about to the southwest of Australia and is ...
large igneous province
A large igneous province (LIP) is an extremely large accumulation of igneous rocks, including intrusive (sills, dikes) and extrusive (lava flows, tephra deposits), arising when magma travels through the crust towards the surface. The formation ...
mostly submerged in the southern Indian Ocean. They are among the most isolated places on Earth
, located more than from
Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
. The islands, along with
Adélie Land (french: Terre Adélie, ) is a claimed territory on the continent of Antarctica. It stretches from a portion of the Southern Ocean coastline all the way inland to the South Pole. France has administered it as one of five districts ...
The Crozet Islands (french: Îles Crozet; or, officially, ''Archipel Crozet'') are a sub-Antarctic archipelago of small islands in the southern Indian Ocean. They form one of the five administrative districts of the French Southern and Antarct ...
Amsterdam ( , , , lit. ''The Dam on the River Amstel'') is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, with The Hague being the seat of government. It has a population of 907,976 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the urban ar ...
Paul; grc, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; hbo, פאולוס השליח (previously called Saul of Tarsus;; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; grc, Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, Saũlos Tarseús; tr, Tarsuslu Pavlus; ...
islands, and France's Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean
, are part of the
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (french: Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, TAAF) is an Overseas Territory (french: Territoire d'outre-mer or ) of France. It consists of:
# Adélie Land (), the French claim on the continent ...
and are administered as a separate district.
The main island, Grande Terre, is in area, about three quarters of the size of
Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southeast of ...
, and is surrounded by a further 300 smaller islands and islets,
An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands.
Examples of archipelagos include: the Indonesian Arch ...
of . The climate is harsh and chilly with frequent high winds throughout the year. The surrounding seas are generally rough and they remain ice-free year-round. There are no indigenous inhabitants, but France maintains a permanent presence of 45 to 100 soldiers, scientists, engineers, and researchers.
[Sea Level Measurement and Analysis in the Western Indian Ocean](_blank)
UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
There are no airports on the islands, so all travel to and from the outside world is conducted by ship.
Before being officially catalogued in 1772, the Kerguelen Islands appear as the "Ile de Nachtegal" on
Philippe Buache (born La Neuville-au-Pont, 7 February 1700; died Paris, 24 January 1773) was a French geographer, known for inventing a new system of geography and popularizing this field.
Life and work
Buache was trained under the geographer ...
's 1754 map entitled ''Carte des Terres Australes comprises entre le Tropique du Capricorne et le Pôle Antarctique où se voyent les nouvelles découvertes faites en 1739 au Sud du Cap de Bonne Esperance'' ('Map of the Southern Lands contained between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Pole, where the new discoveries made in 1739 to the south of the Cape of Good Hope may be seen'). It is possible this early name was after
Abel Janszoon Tasman (; 160310 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach Ne ...
's ship ''De Zeeuwsche Nachtegaal''. On the Buache map, "Ile de Nachtegal" is located at 43°S, 72°E, about 6° north and 2° east of the accepted location of Grande Terre.
The islands were officially discovered by the French navigator Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen-Trémarec
on 12 February 1772. The next day, Charles de Boisguehenneuc landed and claimed the island for the French crown. Yves de Kerguelen organised a second expedition in 1773 and arrived at the ''"baie de l'Oiseau"'' by December 1773. On 6 January 1774 he commanded his lieutenant, Henri Pascal de Rochegude, to leave a message notifying any passers-by of the two passages and of the French claim to the islands.
Thereafter, a number of expeditions briefly visited the islands, including the third voyage
Captain James Cook
James Cook (7 November 1728 Old Style date: 27 October – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and ...
in December 1776. Cook verified and confirmed the passage of de Kerguelen by discovering and annotating the message left by the French navigator.
Soon after its discovery, the archipelago was regularly visited by whalers and sealers (mostly British, American, and Norwegian) who hunted the resident populations of whales and seals to the point of near extinction, including ] fur seal
Fur seals are any of nine species of pinnipeds belonging to the subfamily Arctocephalinae in the family '' Otariidae''. They are much more closely related to sea lions than true seals, and share with them external ears ( pinnae), relatively l ...s in the 18th century and elephant seal
Elephant seals are very large, oceangoing earless seals in the genus ''Mirounga''. Both species, the northern elephant seal (''M. angustirostris'') and the southern elephant seal (''M. leonina''), were hunted to the brink of extinction for oil ...s in the 19th century. The sealing era lasted from 1781 to 1922 during which time 284 sealing visits are recorded, nine of which ended when the vessel was wrecked. Modern industrial sealing, associated with whaling stations, occurred intermittently between 1908 and 1956. Since the end of the whaling and sealing era, most of the islands' species have been able to increase their population again. Relics of the sealing period include try pot
A try pot is a large pot used to remove and render the oil from blubber obtained from cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and pinnipeds (seals), and also to extract oil from penguins. Once a suitable animal such as a whale had been caught and ki ...s, hut ruins, graves and inscriptions. [
In 1800, the spent eight months sealing and ] whaling
Whaling is the process of hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil that became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution.
It was practiced as an organized industr ... around the islands. During this time Captain Robert Rhodes, her master, prepared a chart of the islands. That vessel returned to London in April 1801 with 450 tons of sea elephant oil.
In 1825, the British sealer John Nunn
John Denis Martin Nunn (born 25 April 1955) is an English chess grandmaster, a three-time world champion in chess problem solving, a chess writer and publisher, and a mathematician. He is one of England's strongest chess players and was forme ... and three crew members from ''Favourite'' were shipwrecked on Kerguelen until they were rescued in 1827 by Captain Alexander Distant during his hunting campaign.
The islands were not completely surveyed until the Ross expedition
The Ross expedition was a voyage of scientific exploration of the Antarctic in 1839 to 1843, led by James Clark Ross, with two unusually strong warships, HMS ''Erebus'' and HMS ''Terror''. It explored what is now called the Ross Sea and discov ... of 1840.
The Australian James Kerguelen Robinson (1859–1914) was the first human born south of the Antarctic Convergence, on board the sealing ship ''Offley'' in Gulf of Morbihan
The Gulf of Morbihan is a natural harbour on the coast of the department of Morbihan in southern Brittany, France. Its English name is taken from the French version, ''le golfe du Morbihan'', though it would be more precisely called 'the Mo ... (Royal Sound then), Kerguelen Island on 11 March 1859.
In 1874–1875, British, German, and U.S. expeditions visited Kerguelen to observe the transit of Venus
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and a superior planet, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a .... For the 1874 transit, George Biddell Airy
Sir George Biddell Airy (; 27 July 18012 January 1892) was an English mathematician and astronomer, and the seventh Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the ... of the U.K. Royal Observatory organised and equipped five expeditions to different parts of the world. Three of these were sent to the Kerguelen Islands and led by Stephen Joseph Perry, who set up his main observation station at Observatory Bay and two auxiliary stations, one at Thumb Peak led by Sommerville Goodridge, and the second at Supply Bay, led by Cyril Corbet. Observatory Bay was also used by the German Antarctic Expedition, led by Erich Dagobert von Drygalski in 1902–1903. In January 2007, an archaeological excavation was carried out at this site.
In 1877 the French started a coal mining operation, but soon abandoned it.
In 1892, due to German operations in the area, France sent the aviso
An ''aviso'' was originally a kind of dispatch boat or "advice boat", carrying orders before the development of effective remote communication.
The term, derived from the Portuguese and Spanish word for "advice", "notice" or "warning", an ... ''Eure'', under Commander Lieutard, to reassert its claim over the Kerguelen Islands, the islands of Amsterdam and St. Paul, and the Crozet Archipelago. In 1924, it was decided to administer these territories (in addition to that portion of Antarctica claimed by France and known as Adélie Land
Adélie Land (french: Terre Adélie, ) is a claimed territory on the continent of Antarctica. It stretches from a portion of the Southern Ocean coastline all the way inland to the South Pole. France has administered it as one of five districts ...) from Madagascar; as with all Antarctic territorial claims, France's possession on the continent is held in abeyance until a new international treaty is ratified that defines each claimant's rights and obligations.
In 1908, the French explorer Raymond Rallier du Baty made a privately funded expedition to the island. His autobiographical account of the adventure (1917 - '' 15,000 Miles in a Ketch''. Thomas Nelson and Sons: London) describes the months that he spent surveying the island and hunting seals to finance his expedition.
The German auxiliary cruiser called at Kerguelen during December 1940. During their stay the crew performed maintenance and replenished their water supplies. This ship's first fatality of the war occurred when a sailor, Bernhard Herrmann, fell while painting the funnel. He is buried in what is sometimes referred to as "the southernmost German war grave" of World War II
World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ....
Kerguelen has been continually occupied since 1950 by scientific research teams, with a population of 50 to 100 personnel frequently present. There is also a French satellite
A satellite or artificial satellite is an object intentionally placed into orbit in outer space. Except for passive satellites, most satellites have an electricity generation system for equipment on board, such as solar panels or radiois ... tracking station.
Until 1955, the Kerguelen Islands were administratively part of the French Colony of Madagascar and Dependencies. That same year, they collectively became known as ' (French Southern and Antarctic Lands) and were administratively part of the French '. In 2004 they were permanently transformed into their own entity (keeping the same name) but having inherited another group of five very remote tropical islands, '' '', which are also ruled by France and are dispersed widely throughout the southern Indian Ocean.
The main island of the archipelago is called '. It measures east to west and north to south.
Port-aux-Français, a scientific base, is along the eastern shore of the
Gulf of Morbihan
The Gulf of Morbihan is a natural harbour on the coast of the department of Morbihan in southern Brittany, France. Its English name is taken from the French version, ''le golfe du Morbihan'', though it would be more precisely called 'the Mo ... on La Grande Terre. Facilities there include scientific-research buildings, a satellite tracking station, dormitories, a hospital, a library, a gymnasium, a pub, and the chapel of Notre-Dame des Vents.
The highest point is Mont Ross
Mont Ross is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain in the Kerguelen Islands at . It is located in the Gallieni Massif, at the end of the Gallieni Peninsula, east of Baie Larose on the main island of Grande Terre. The volcano is composed primar ... in the Gallieni Massif, which rises along the southern coast of the island and has an elevation of . The Cook Ice Cap (), France's largest glacier with an area of about , lies on the west-central part of the island. Overall, the glaciers of the Kerguelen Islands cover just over . Grande Terre has also numerous bays, inlets, fjords, and coves, as well as several peninsulas and promontories. The most important ones are listed below:
* Courbet Peninsula
* Péninsule Rallier du Baty
* Péninsule Gallieni
* Péninsule Loranchet
* Péninsule Jeanne d'Arc
* Presqu'île Ronarc'h
* Presqu'île de la Société de Géographie
* Presqu'île Joffre
* Presqu'île du Prince de Galles
* Presqu'île du Gauss
* Presqu'île Bouquet de la Grye
* Presqu'île d'Entrecasteaux
* Presqu'île du Bougainville
* Presqu'île Hoche
There are also a number of notable localities, all on La Grande Terre (see also the main map):
* Anse Betsy (Betsy Cove) is a former geomagnetic station on Baie Accessible (Accessible Bay), on the north coast of the Courbet Peninsula. On this site an astronomical and geomagnetic observatory was erected on 26 October 1874 by a German research expedition led by Georg Gustav Freiherr von Schleinitz. The primary goal of this station was the 1874 observation of the
transit of Venus
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and a superior planet, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a ....
Armour (British English) or armor (American English; see spelling differences) is a covering used to protect an object, individual, or vehicle from physical injury or damage, especially direct contact weapons or projectiles during combat, or ... (Base Armor), established in 1983, is located west of Port-aux-Français at the bottom of Morbihan Gulf, for the acclimatization of salmon to the Kerguelen islands.
* Baie de l'Observatoire (Observatory Bay) is a former geomagnetic observation station, just west of Port-Aux-Français, on the eastern fringe of the Central Plateau, along the northern shore of the Golfe du Morbihan.
* Cabane Port-Raymond is a scientific camp at the head of a fjord
In physical geography, a fjord or fiord () is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier. Fjords exist on the coasts of Alaska, Antarctica, British Columbia, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, I ... cutting into the Courbet Peninsula from the south.
* Cap Ratmanoff is the easternmost point of the Kerguelens.
* La Montjoie is a scientific camp on the south shore of Baie Rocheuse, along the northwestern coast of the archipelago.
* Molloy (Pointe Molloy) is a former observatory west of the present-day Port-Aux-Français, on the northern shore of the Golfe du Morbihan (Kerguelen). An American expedition led by G. P. Ryan erected a station at this site on 7 September 1874. That station was also established to observe the 1874 transit of Venus.
* Port Bizet
Georges Bizet (; 25 October 18383 June 1875) was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, ''Carmen'', which has become o ... is a seismographic station on the northeastern coast of Île Longue. This also serves as the principal sheep farm for the island's resident flock of Bizet sheep.
* Port Christmas is a former geomagnetic station on Baie de l'Oiseau, in the extreme northwest of the Loranchet Peninsula. It was named by Captain James Cook
James Cook (7 November 1728 Old Style date: 27 October – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and ..., who re-discovered the islands and who anchored there on Christmas Day, 1776. This is also the place where Captain Cook coined the name "Desolation Islands" in reference to what he saw as a sterile landscape.
* Port Couvreux, a former whaling station, experimental sheep farm, and geomagnetic station is on Baie du Hillsborough, on the southeast coast of Presqu'île Bouquet de la Grye. Starting in 1912, sheep were raised here to create an economic base for future settlement. However, the attempt failed and the last inhabitants had to be evacuated, and the station abandoned, in 1931. The huts remain, as well as a graveyard with five anonymous graves. These are those of the settlers who were unable to survive in the harsh environment.
* Port Curieuse, a harbor on the west coast across Île de l'Ouest, was named after the ship ''La Curieuse'', which was used by Raymond Rallier du Baty on his second visit to the islands (1913–14).
* Port Douzième (Twelfth Port) is a hut and former geomagnetic station on the southern shore of the Golfe du Morbihan.
* Port Jeanne d'Arc is a former whaling station founded by a Norwegian whaling company in 1908, and a former geomagnetic station, and lies in the northwestern corner of Presqu'île Jeanne d'Arc, looking across the Buenos Aires passage to Île Longue ( northeast). The derelict settlement consists of four residential buildings with wooden walls and tin roofs, and a barn. One of the buildings was restored in 1977, and another in 2007.
From 1968 to 1981, a site just east of Port-aux-Français was a launching site for sounding rocket
A sounding rocket or rocketsonde, sometimes called a research rocket or a suborbital rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The rockets are used to ...s, some for French ( Dragon rockets), American ( Arcas
In Greek mythology, Arcas (; Ancient Greek: Ἀρκάς) was a hunter who became king of Arcadia. He was remembered for having taught people the arts of weaving and baking bread and for spreading agriculture to Arcadia.
Arcas was the s ...) or French-Soviet ( Eridans) surveys, but at the end mainly for a Soviet program ( M-100).
The following is a list of the most important adjacent islands:
* Île Foch in the north of the archipelago, at , the second most important offlier in the Kerguelens.
* Île Saint-Lanne Gramont, is to the west of Île Foch in the Golfe Choiseul. It has an area of . Its highest point reaches .
* Île du Port, also in the north in the Golfe des Baleiniers is the fourth largest satellite island with an area of . Near its centre it reaches an elevation of .
* Île de l'Ouest (west coast, about )
* Île Longue (southeast, about )
* Îles Nuageuses (northwest, including île de Croÿ, île du Roland, îles Ternay, îles d'Après)
* Île de Castries
* Îles Leygues (north, including île de Castries, île Dauphine)
* Île Violette
* Île Australia (also known as ''Île aux Rennes'' – ''Reindeer Island'') (western part of the Golfe du Morbihan, area , elevation )
* Île Haute (western part of the Golfe du Morbihan, elevation )
* Île Mayès
* Îles du Prince-de-Monaco (south, in the Audierne bay)
* Îles de Boynes (four small islands south of Presqu'ile Rallier du Baty on the main island)
* Île Altazin (a small island in the Swains Bay)
* Île Gaby (a small island in the Swains Bay)
* Île de Croÿ (a small island off the coast of Grande Terre )
* Île du Roland (a small island off the coast of Grande Terre )
Principal activities on the Kerguelen Islands focus on scientific research, mostly earth sciences and biology.
A sounding rocket or rocketsonde, sometimes called a research rocket or a suborbital rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital flight. The rockets are used to ... range to the east of Port-aux-Français is currently the site of a SuperDARN radar.
Since 1992, the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) has operated a satellite
A satellite or artificial satellite is an object intentionally placed into orbit in outer space. Except for passive satellites, most satellites have an electricity generation system for equipment on board, such as solar panels or radiois ... and rocket
A rocket (from it, rocchetto, , bobbin/spool) is a vehicle that uses jet propulsion to accelerate without using the surrounding air. A rocket engine produces thrust by reaction to exhaust expelled at high speed. Rocket engines work entirel ... tracking station, located east of Port-aux-Français. CNES needed a tracking station in the Southern Hemisphere, and the French government required that it be located on French territory, rather than in a populated, but foreign, place like Australia or New Zealand.
Agricultural activities were limited until 2007 to raising sheep (about 3,500 Bizet
Georges Bizet (; 25 October 18383 June 1875) was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, ''Carmen'', which has become o ... sheep, a breed that is rare in mainland France) on Longue Island for consumption by the occupants of the base, as well as small quantities of vegetables in a greenhouse within the immediate vicinity of the main French base. There are also feral rabbits and sheep that can be hunted, as well as wild birds.
There are also five fishing boats and vessels, owned by fishermen on Réunion Island (a ''department'' of France about north) who are licensed to fish within the archipelago's exclusive economic zone.
The Kerguelen Islands form an emerged part of the submerged
The Kerguelen Plateau (, ), also known as the Kerguelen–Heard Plateau, is an oceanic plateau and a large igneous province (LIP) located on the Antarctic Plate, in the southern Indian Ocean. It is about to the southwest of Australia and is ..., which has a total area nearing . The plateau
In geology and physical geography, a plateau (; ; ), also called a high plain or a tableland, is an area of a highland consisting of flat terrain that is raised sharply above the surrounding area on at least one side. Often one or more side ... was built by volcanic eruptions associated with the Kerguelen hotspot
The Kerguelen hotspot is a volcanic hotspot at the Kerguelen Plateau in the Southern Indian Ocean. The Kerguelen hotspot has produced basaltic lava for about 130 million years and has also produced the Kerguelen Islands, Naturaliste Plateau, Hea ..., and now lies on the Antarctic Plate.
The major part of the volcanic formations visible on the islands is characteristic of an effusive volcanism, which caused a trap rock formation to start emerging above the level of the ocean 35 million years ago. The accumulation is of a considerable amount; basalt
Basalt (; ) is an aphanitic (fine-grained) extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low- viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron ( mafic lava) exposed at or very near the surface of a rocky planet or moon. More than ... flows, each with a thickness of three to ten metres, stacked on top of each other, sometimes up to a depth of . This form of volcanism creates a monumental relief shaped as stairs of pyramids.
Other forms of volcanism are present locally, such as the strombolian volcano Mont Ross
Mont Ross is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain in the Kerguelen Islands at . It is located in the Gallieni Massif, at the end of the Gallieni Peninsula, east of Baie Larose on the main island of Grande Terre. The volcano is composed primar ..., and the volcano-plutonic complex on the Rallier du Baty Peninsula. Various veins and extrusions of lava such as trachyte
Trachyte () is an extrusive igneous rock composed mostly of alkali feldspar. It is usually light-colored and aphanitic (fine-grained), with minor amounts of mafic minerals, and is formed by the rapid cooling of lava enriched with silica and a ...s, trachyphonolites, and phonolite
Phonolite is an uncommon extrusive rock, of intermediate chemical composition between felsic and mafic, with texture ranging from aphanitic (fine-grained) to porphyritic (mixed fine- and coarse-grained). Phonolite is a variation of the igne ...s are common all over the islands.
No eruptive activity has been recorded in historic times, but some fumarole
A fumarole (or fumerole) is a vent in the surface of the Earth or other rocky planet from which hot volcanic gases and vapors are emitted, without any accompanying liquids or solids. Fumaroles are characteristic of the late stages of volca ...s are still active in the south-west of Grande-Terre island.
A few lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. It has a carbon content around 25–35%, and is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low hea ... strata, trapped in basalt flows, reveal fossilised araucarian fragments, dated at about 14 million years of age.
A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate bet ... caused the depression and tipping phenomena which created the gulfs at the north and east of the archipelago. Erosion caused by the glacial and fluvial activity carved out the valleys and fjords; erosion also created conglomerate detrital
Detritus (; adj. ''detrital'' ) is particles of rock derived from pre-existing rock through weathering and erosion.Essentials of Geology, 3rd Ed, Stephen Marshak, p G-7 A fragment of detritus is called a clast
Clastic rocks are composed of fra ... complexes, and the plain of the Courbet Peninsula.
The islands are part of a submerged microcontinent
Continental crustal fragments, partly synonymous with microcontinents, are pieces of continents that have broken off from main continental masses to form distinct islands that are often several hundred kilometers from their place of origin.
Caus ... called the Kerguelen Subcontinent. The microcontinent emerged substantially above sea level for three periods between 100 million years ago and 20 million years ago. The so-called Kerguelen Subcontinent may have had tropical flora
Flora is all the plant life present in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring ( indigenous) native plants. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms '' gut flora'' or '' skin flora''.
... and fauna
Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is '' flora'', and for fungi, it is '' funga''. Flora, fauna, funga and other forms of life are collectively referred to as '' biota''. Z ... about 50 million years ago. The Kerguelen Subcontinent finally sank 20 million years ago and is now below sea level. Kerguelen's sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic particles at Earth's surface, followed by cementation. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particl ...s are similar to ones found in Australia and India, indicating they were all once connected. Scientists hope that studying the Kerguelen sub-continent will help them discover how Australia, India, and Antarctica
Antarctica () is Earth's southernmost and least-populated continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest conti ... broke apart.
Kerguelen's climate is oceanic, cold, and extremely windswept. Under the
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by German-Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, nota ..., Kerguelen's climate is considered to be an ''ET'' or tundra climate
The tundra climate is a polar climate sub-type located in high latitudes and high mountains. undra climate https://www.britannica.com/science/tundra-climateThe Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019 It is classified as ET according to Köppen ..., which is technically a form of polar climate
The polar climate regions are characterized by a lack of warm summers but with varying winters. Every month in a polar climate has an average temperature of less than . Regions with polar climate cover more than 20% of the Earth's area. Most of ..., as the average temperature in the warmest month is below . [ ''(direct] Comparable climates include the
Final Revised Paper
The Aleutian Islands (; ; ale, Unangam Tanangin,”Land of the Aleuts", possibly from Chukchi ''aliat'', "island"), also called the Aleut Islands or Aleutic Islands and known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, are a chain of 14 large v ..., Campbell Island (New Zealand), Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, link=no ) is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about from Cape Dubouz ..., Iceland
Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Arctic Ocean. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland's capital and largest city is Reykjavík, which (along with its ..., northern Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula (russian: полуостров Камчатка, Poluostrov Kamchatka, ) is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of about . The Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk make up the peninsula's eastern and we ... (Russia), Labrador
, nickname = "The Big Land"
, etymology =
, subdivision_type = Country
, subdivision_name = Canada
, subdivision_type1 = Province
, subdivision_name1 ... (Canada), and Wollaston Islands
The Wollaston Islands () are a group of islands in Chile south of Navarino Island and north of Cape Horn
Cape Horn ( es, Cabo de Hornos, ) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago
An archipelago ( ), someti ... (Chile).
All climate readings come from the Port-aux-Français base, which has one of the more favourable climates in Kerguelen because of its proximity to the coast and its location in a gulf sheltered from the wind.
The average annual temperature is with an annual range of around . The warmest months of the year include January and February, with average temperatures between . The coldest month of the year is August with an average temperature of . Annual high temperatures rarely surpass , while temperatures in winter have never been recorded below at sea level.
Kerguelen receives frequent precipitation, with snow throughout the year as well as rain. Port-aux-Français receives a modest amount of precipitation ( per annum) compared to the west coast which receives an estimated three times as much precipitation per year.
The mountains are frequently covered in snow but can thaw very quickly in rain. Over the course of several decades, many permanent glaciers have shown signs of retreat, with some smaller ones having disappeared completely.
The west coast receives almost continuous wind at an average speed of because the islands are between the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties. Wind speeds of are common and can even reach .
Waves up to high are common, but there are many sheltered places where ships can anchor.
Flora and fauna
The islands are part of the Southern Indian Ocean Islands tundra
An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than a biogeographic realm. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas o ... that includes several subantarctic
The sub-Antarctic zone is a region in the Southern Hemisphere, located immediately north of the Antarctic region. This translates roughly to a latitude of between 46° and 60° south of the Equator. The subantarctic region includes many islands ... islands. Plant life is mainly limited to grasses, moss
Mosses are small, non-vascular flowerless plants in the taxonomic division Bryophyta (, ) '' sensu stricto''. Bryophyta ('' sensu lato'', Schimp. 1879) may also refer to the parent group bryophytes, which comprise liverworts, mosses, and ...es, and lichen
A lichen ( , ) is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of multiple fungi species in a mutualistic relationship.
[Kerguelen cabbage, a good source of ] vitamin C
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate) is a water-soluble vitamin found in citrus and other fruits and vegetables, also sold as a dietary supplement and as a topical 'serum' ingredient to treat melasma (dark pigment spots) ... to mariners. The main indigenous animals are insects along with large populations of ocean-going seabird
Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are birds that are adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same envi ...s, seals, and penguins.
The wildlife is particularly vulnerable to introduced species
An introduced species, alien species, exotic species, adventive species, immigrant species, foreign species, non-indigenous species, or non-native species is a species living outside its native distributional range, but which has arrived ther ...; one particular problem has been cats. The main island is the home of a well-established feral cat
A feral cat or a stray cat is an unowned domestic cat (''Felis catus'') that lives outdoors and avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Feral cats may breed over dozens ... population, descended from ships' cats. They survive on sea birds and the feral
A feral () animal or plant is one that lives in the wild but is descended from domesticated individuals. As with an introduced species, the introduction of feral animals or plants to non-native regions may disrupt ecosystems and has, in some ... rabbits that were introduced to the islands. There are also populations of wild sheep ('' Ovis orientalis orientalis'') and reindeer
Reindeer (in North American English, known as caribou if wild and ''reindeer'' if domesticated) are deer in the genus ''Rangifer''. For the last few decades, reindeer were assigned to one species, ''Rangifer tarandus'', with about 10 subs ....
In the 1950s and 1960s, French geologist Edgar Albert de la Rue began to introduce several species of salmonids. Of the seven species introduced, only brook trout
The brook trout (''Salvelinus fontinalis'') is a species of freshwater fish in the char genus ''Salvelinus'' of the salmon family Salmonidae. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada, but has been introduced elsewhere ... and brown trout
The brown trout (''Salmo trutta'') is a European species of salmonid fish that has been widely introduced into suitable environments globally. It includes purely freshwater populations, referred to as the riverine ecotype, ''Salmo trutta'' morp ... survived to establish wild populations.
Ground beetles are a large, cosmopolitan family of beetles, the Carabidae, with more than 40,000 species worldwide, around 2,000 of which are found in North America and 2,700 in Europe. As of 2015, it is one of the 10 most species-rich animal f ...
** ''Oopterus soledadinus'' ntroduced* Hydraenidae
** ''Meropathus chuni'' ndemic
In popular culture
The islands appear in a number of fictional works. The title character in
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (; Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is wid ...'s 1838 novel '' The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket'' visits the islands. French writer Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne (;'' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary''. ; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the '' Voyages ext ...'s 1897 novel '' An Antarctic Mystery'' offers a follow up to Poe's book, and revisits the Kerguelen Islands.
The 1874 short story " The Tachypomp" by Edward Page Mitchell tells of a hole through the center of the Earth with one end in the United States and the other in "Kerguellen's Land" (which is roughly antipodal to the United States and Canada).
The 1880 collection '' Songs from the Mountains'' by the Australian poet Henry Kendall contains the poem ''Beyond Kerguelen''. [Austlit – ''Songs from the Mountains'']
In Rudyard Kipling's poem " McAndrew's Hymn" – about a ship's engineer – there are the lines: "Fra' Cape Town east to Wellington – ye need an engineer.
Fail there – ye've time to weld your shaft – ay, eat it, ere ye're spoke,
Or make Kerguelen under sail – three jiggers burned wi' smoke!"
Henry De Vere Stacpoole set his 1919 novel ''The Beach of Dreams'' on the islands.
The Kerguelen Islands were the setting for a post-
Second World War
World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ... confrontation between W. E. Johns's recurring hero, Biggles
James Bigglesworth, nicknamed "Biggles", is a fictional pilot and adventurer, the title character and hero of the ''Biggles'' series of adventure books, written for young readers by W. E. Johns (1893–1968). Biggles made his first appearanc ..., and the crew of a gold bullion
A gold bar, also called gold bullion or gold ingot, is a quantity of refined metallic gold of any shape that is made by a bar producer meeting standard conditions of manufacture, labeling, and record keeping. Larger gold bars that are produced ...-bearing German U-boat
U-boats were naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were most effectively used in an economic warfare ro ..., in the 1948 novel ''Biggles' Second Case''.
French author Jean-Paul Kauffmann produced a non-fiction account of his 1991 journey to the islands, titled ''The Arch of Kerguelen: Voyage to the Islands of Desolation''.
The islands serve as a main location in the 1998 novel ''Kilo Class'' by Patrick Robinson.
In 2000 British journalist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris spent four months on Kerguelen, staying with the researchers at Port-aux-Français. A series of articles were published in '' The Times
''The Times'' is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its sister paper '' The Sunday Times'' ...'' in which Parris charted his visit, and a documentary ''To The Ends of Earth: Dreaming on Desolation Island'' was produced for UK television, which aired on Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a fourth television servic ....
The islands inspired the 2008 song " The Loneliest Place on the Map" by singer Al Stewart
Alastair Ian Stewart (born 5 September 1945) is a Scottish born singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock ....
Administrative divisions of France
The administrative divisions of France are concerned with the institutional and territorial organization of French territory. These territories are located in many parts of the world. There are many administrative divisions, which may have ...
* List of Antarctic and subantarctic islands
* List of French overseas islands
* Overseas France
Overseas France (french: France d'outre-mer) consists of 13 French-administered territories outside Europe, mostly the remains of the French colonial empire that chose to remain a part of the French state under various statuses after decolo ...
* Including a toponymy index.
Personal site with many pictures
Archipelagoes of the Indian Ocean
Archipelagoes of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Volcanoes of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Lists of coordinates
French Southern and Antarctic Lands