Heard and McDonald Islands

Image Map

heard.jpg (30444 bytes)

Heard Island: 52° 97' to 53° 20' S, 73° 25' to 73° 83'E 

  • Area: 390 km².
  • Physical features: One main volcanic island with offliers; Shag Island lies 1 km N and McDonald Islands 38 km W in the Southern Ocean.
  • Highest elevation - 2745 m Mawson Peak (active volcano). 
  • The island is volcanic of basaltic composition.  Over 90 % of its area is glaciated, with ice up to 150 m deep.
  • Cool maritime climate: strong westerly winds prevail, mean annual temperature 1ºC, with rainfall of 1400 mm/yr.
  • There is little soil development and there are no trees.
  • Twenty species of bird breed on Heard Island.  Most bird species are reported as stable, with those of King Penguin and Black-browed Albatross increasing. 
  • Over 50 species of terrestrial arthropods are found, principally of the taxa Collembola, Coleoptera, Diptera, and Lepidoptera. 
  • Historical Features: Possibly sighted 1833 and 1848.  Visited by American Captain Heard in 1853. First landing in 1855 by sealers. 
  • Uninhabited (previously sealers and scientific personnel wintered)
  • Australian External Territory.

McDonald Islands: 53° 03' S, 72° 36' E 

  • Area: 2.6 km².
  • Physical Features: The group comprises McDonald Island, with several small rocky islets (Flat Island and Meyer Rock).
  • Islands are composed of basaltic lava and tuffaceous material, resulting from eruptions of volcanic vents near sea level.  There is little soil.
  • Climate similar to Heard island
  • Historical features: Discovered in 1854 by Captain McDonald of the British sealing vessel Samarang.  Some exploitation of seals and penguins occurred in the 1800's.  
  • Uninhabited Australian External Territory.