The Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is an Australian external territory comprising a volcanic group of barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. The group's overall size is 372 km2 (144 sq mi) in area and it has 101.9 km (63 mi) of coastline. Discovered in the mid-19th century, the islands have been an Australian territory since 1947 and contain the country's two only active volcanoes. The summit of one, Mawson Peak, is higher than any mountain on the Australian mainland. The islands lie on the Kerguelen Plateau in the Indian Ocean.
The islands are among the most remote places on Earth: They are located approximately 4,099 km (2,547 mi) southwest of Perth, 3,845 km (2,389 mi) southwest of Cape Leeuwin, Australia, 4,200 km (2,600 mi) southeast of South Africa, 3,830 km (2,380 mi) southeast of Madagascar, 1,630 km (1,010 mi) north of Antarctica, and 450 km (280 mi) southeast of the Kerguelen Islands. The islands are currently uninhabited.
|Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands|
|Area||368 km2 (142 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,745 m (9,006 ft)|
|Highest point||Mawson Peak|
|Criteria||Natural: viii, ix|
|Inscription||1997 (21st Session)|
Heard Island, by far the largest of the group, is a 368-square-kilometre (142 sq mi) mountainous island covered by 41 glaciers (the island is 80% covered with ice) and dominated by the Big Ben massif. It has a maximum elevation of 2,745 metres (9,006 ft) at Mawson Peak, the historically active volcanic summit of Big Ben. A July 2000 satellite image from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) Thermal Alert Team showed an active 2-kilometre-long (1.2 mi) and 50- to 90-metre-wide (164–295 ft) lava flow trending south-west from the summit of Big Ben.
The much smaller and rocky McDonald Islands are located 44 kilometres (27 mi) to the west of Heard Island. They consist of McDonald Island (186 metres (610 ft) high), Flat Island (55 metres (180 ft) high) and Meyer Rock (170 metres (560 ft) high). They total approximately 2.5 square kilometres (1.0 sq mi) in area, where McDonald Island is 1.13 square kilometres (0.4 sq mi). There is a small group of islets and rocks about 10 kilometres (6 mi) north of Heard Island, consisting of Shag Islet, Sail Rock, Morgan Island and Black Rock. They total about 1.1 square kilometres (0.4 sq mi) in area.
Mawson Peak and McDonald Island are the only two active volcanoes in Australian territory. Mawson Peak is also one of the highest Australian mountains (higher than Mount Kosciuszko); surpassed only by Mount McClintock range in the Antarctic territory. Mawson Peak has erupted several times in the last decade; the most recent eruption was filmed on 2 February 2016. The volcano on McDonald Island, after being dormant for 75,000 years, became active in 1992 and has erupted several times since, the most recent in 2005.
Heard Island and the McDonald Islands have no ports or harbours; ships must anchor offshore. The coastline is 101.9 kilometres (63.3 mi), and a 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) territorial sea and 200-nautical-mile (370 km; 230 mi) exclusive fishing zone are claimed.
The islands have an Antarctic climate, tempered by their maritime setting. The weather is marked by low seasonal and daily temperature ranges, persistent and generally low cloud cover, frequent precipitation and strong winds. Snowfall occurs throughout the year. Monthly average temperatures at Atlas Cove (at the northwestern end of Heard Island) range from 0.0 to 4.2 °C (32.0 to 39.6 °F), with an average daily range of 3.7 to 5.2 °C (38.7 to 41.4 °F) in summer and −0.8 to 0.3 °C (30.6 to 32.5 °F) in winter. The winds are predominantly westerly and persistently strong. At Atlas Cove, monthly average wind speeds range between around 26 and 33.5 km/h (16.2 and 20.8 mph). Gusts in excess of 180 km/h (110 mph) have been recorded. Annual precipitation at sea level on Heard Island is in the order of 1,300 to 1,900 mm (51.2 to 74.8 in); rain or snow falls on about 3 out of 4 days.
Meteorological records at Heard Island are incomplete.
The islands are part of the Southern Indian Ocean Islands tundra ecoregion that includes several subantarctic islands. In this cold climate plant life is mainly limited to grasses, lichens, and mosses. Low plant diversity reflects the islands’ isolation, small size, severe climate, the short, cool growing season and, for Heard Island, substantial permanent ice cover. The main environmental determinants of vegetation on subantarctic islands are wind exposure, water availability, parent soil composition, salt spray exposure, nutrient availability, disturbance by trampling (from seabirds and seals) and, possibly, altitude. At Heard Island, exposure to salt spray and the presence of breeding and moulting seabirds and seals are particularly strong influences on vegetation composition and structure in coastal areas.
Evidence from microfossil records indicates that ferns and woody plants were present on Heard Island during the Tertiary (a period with a cool and moist climate). Neither group of plants is present today, although potential Tertiary survivors include the vascular plant Pringlea antiscorbutica and six moss species. Volcanic activity has altered the distribution and abundance of the vegetation. The vascular flora covers a range of environments and, although only six species are currently widespread, glacial retreat and the consequent connection of previously separate ice-free areas is providing opportunities for further distribution of vegetation into adjacent areas.
Low-growing herbaceous flowering plants and bryophytes are the major vegetation components. The vascular flora comprises the smallest number of species of any major subantarctic island group, reflecting its isolation, small ice-free area and severe climate. Twelve vascular species are known from Heard Island, of which five have also been recorded on McDonald Island. None of the vascular species is endemic, although Pringlea antiscorbutica, Colobanthus kerguelensis, and Poa kerguelensis occur only on subantarctic islands in the southern Indian Ocean.
The plants are typically subantarctic, but with a higher abundance of the cushion-forming Azorella selago than other subantarctic islands. Heard Island is the largest subantarctic island with no confirmed human-introduced plants. Areas available for plant colonisation on Heard Island are generally the result of retreating glaciers or new ice-free land created by lava flows. Today, substantial vegetation covers over 20 km2 of Heard Island, and is best developed on coastal areas at elevations below 250 m.
Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) contribute substantially to the overall biodiversity of Heard Island, with 43 mosses and 19 liverworts being recorded, often occupying habitats unsuitable for vascular plants, such as cliff faces. Bryophytes are present in most of the major vegetation communities including several soil and moss-inhabiting species. A 1980 survey of McDonald Island found lower diversity than that on Heard Island; four mosses and a number of algal species are recorded from there.
At least 100 species of terrestrial algae are known from Heard Island, commonly in permanently moist and ephemeral habitats. Forests of the giant Antarctic kelp Durvillaea antarctica occur at a number of sites around Heard Island and at least 17 other species of seaweed are known, with more to be added following the identification of recent collections. Low seaweed diversity is due to the island's isolation from other land masses, unsuitable beach habitat, constant abrasion by waves, tides and small stones, and the extension of glaciers into the sea in many areas.
Heard Island has a range of terrestrial environments in which vegetation occurs. Seven general vegetation communities are currently recognised, although vegetation composition is considered more of a continuum than discrete units:
One of the most rapidly changing physical settings in the subantarctic has been produced on Heard Island by a combination of rapid glacial recession and climate warming. The consequent increase in habitat available for plant colonisation, plus the coalescing of previously discrete ice-free areas, has led to marked changes in the vegetation of Heard Island in the last 20 years or so. Other species and vegetation communities found on subantarctic islands north of the Antarctic Convergence now absent from the Heard Island flora may colonise the island if climate change produces more favourable conditions.
Some plant species are spreading and modifying the structure and composition of communities, some of which are also increasing in distribution. It is likely that further changes will occur, and possibly at an accelerated rate. Changes in population numbers of seal and seabird species are also expected to affect the vegetation by changing nutrient availability and disturbance through trampling.
One plant species on Heard Island, Poa annua, a cosmopolitan grass native to Europe, was possibly introduced by humans, though is more likely to have arrived naturally, probably by skuas from the Kerguelen Islands where it is widespread. It was initially recorded in 1987 in two deglaciated areas of Heard Island not previously exposed to human visitors, while being absent from known sites of past human habitation. Since 1987 Poa annua populations have increased in density and abundance within the original areas and have expanded beyond them. Expeditioner boot traffic during the Australian Antarctic program expedition in 1987 may be at least partly responsible for the spread, but it is probably mainly due to dispersal by wind and the movement of seabirds and seals around the island.
The potential for introducing plant species (including invasive species not previously found on subantarctic islands) by both natural and human-induced means is high. This is due to the combination of low species diversity and climatic amelioration. During the 2003/04 summer a new plant species, Cotula plumosa, was recorded. Only one small specimen was found growing on a coastal river terrace that had experienced substantial development and expansion of vegetation over the past decade. The species has a circumantarctic distribution and occurs on many subantarctic islands.
71 species of lichens have been recorded from Heard Island and they are common on exposed rock, dominating the vegetation in some areas. As with plants, a 1980 survey of McDonald Island found lower diversity there, with just eight lichen species and a number of non-lichenized fungi recorded.
Sealing at Heard Island lasted from 1855 to 1910, during which time 67 sealing vessels are recorded visiting, nine of which were wrecked off the coast. Relics that survive from that time include trypots, casks, hut ruins, graves and inscriptions. This caused the seal populations there to either become locally extinct or reduced to levels too low to exploit economically. Modern sealers visited from Cape Town in the 1920s. Since then the populations have generally increased and are protected. Seals breeding on Heard include the southern elephant seal, the Antarctic fur seal and the subantarctic fur seal. Leopard seals visit regularly in winter to haul-out though they do not breed on the islands. Crabeater, Ross and Weddell seals are occasional visitors.
Heard Island and the McDonald Islands are free from introduced predators and provide crucial breeding habitat in the middle of the vast Southern Ocean for a range of birds. The surrounding waters are important feeding areas for birds and some scavenging species also derive sustenance from their cohabitants on the islands. The islands have been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because they support very large numbers of nesting seabirds.
Nineteen species of birds have been recorded as breeding on Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, although recent volcanic activity at the McDonald Islands in the last decade is likely to have reduced vegetated and un-vegetated nesting areas.
Penguins are by far the most abundant birds on the islands, with four breeding species present, comprising king, gentoo, macaroni and eastern rockhopper penguins. The penguins mostly colonise the coastal tussock and grasslands of Heard Island, and have previously been recorded as occupying the flats and gullies on McDonald Island.
Other seabirds recorded as breeding at Heard Island include three species of albatross (wandering, black-browed and light-mantled albatrosses, southern giant petrels, Cape petrels, four species of burrowing petrels Antarctic and Fulmar prions, common and South Georgian diving-petrels), Wilson's storm-petrels, kelp gulls, subantarctic skuas, Antarctic terns and the Heard shag. Although not a true seabird, the Heard Island subspecies of the black-faced sheathbill also breeds on the island. Both the shag and the sheathbill are endemic to Heard Island.
A further 28 seabird species are recorded as either non-breeding visitors or have been noted during 'at-sea surveys' of the islands. All recorded breeding species, other than the Heard Island sheathbill, are listed marine species under the Australian Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999, four are listed as threatened species and five are listed migratory species. Under the EPBC Act a recovery plan has been made for albatrosses and giant petrels, which calls for ongoing population monitoring of the species found at HIMI, and at the time of preparing this plan a draft recovery plan has also been made for the Heard Island cormorant (or shag) and Antarctic tern.
The recorded populations of some seabird species found in the Reserve have shown marked change. The king penguin population is the best studied seabird species on Heard Island and has shown a dramatic increase since first recorded in 1947/48, with the population doubling every five years or so for more than 50 years.
A paper reviewing population data for the black-browed albatross between 1947 and 2000/01 suggested that the breeding population had increased to approximately three times that present in the late 1940s, although a Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources CCAMLR) Working Group was cautious about the interpretation of the increasing trend given the disparate nature of the data, as discussed in the paper. The discovery of a large, previously unknown, colony of Heard shags in 2000/01 at Cape Pillar raised the known breeding population from 200 pairs to over 1000 pairs. The breeding population of southern giant petrels decreased by more than 50% between the early 1950s and the late 1980s.
Heard Island supports a relatively low number of terrestrial invertebrate species compared to other Southern Ocean islands, in parallel with the low species richness in the flora–that is, the island's isolation and limited ice-free area. Endemism is also generally low and the invertebrate fauna is exceptionally pristine with few, if any, (successful) human-induced introductions of alien species. Two species, including the thrip Apterothrips apteris and the mite Tyrophagus putrescentiae are thought to be recent, possibly natural, introductions. An exotic species of earthworm Dendrodrilus rubidus was also collected in 1929 from a dump near Atlas Cove, and has recently been collected from a variety of habitats including wallows, streams and lakes on Heard Island.
The arthropods of Heard Island are comparatively well known with 54 species of mite and tick, one spider and eight springtails recorded. A study over summer at Atlas Cove in 1987/88 showed overall densities of up to 60 000 individual springtails per square metre in soil under stands of Pringlea antiscorbutica. Despite a few recent surveys, the non-arthropod invertebrate fauna of Heard Island remain poorly known.
Beetles and flies dominate Heard Island's known insect fauna, which comprises up to 21 species of ectoparasite (associated with birds and seals) and up to 13 free-living species. Approximately half of the free-living insects are habitat-specific, while the remainder are generalists found in a variety of habitats, being associated with either supralittoral or intertidal zones, Poa cookii and Pringlea antiscorbutica stands, bryophytes, lichen-covered rocks, exposed rock faces or the underside of rocks. There is a pronounced seasonality to the insect fauna, with densities in winter months dropping to a small percentage (between 0.75%) of the summer maximum. Distinct differences in relative abundances of species between habitats has also been shown, including a negative relationship between altitude and body size for Heard Island weevils.
The fauna of the freshwater pools, lakes, streams and mires found in the coastal areas of Heard Island are broadly similar to those on other subantarctic islands of the southern Indian Ocean. Many species reported from Heard Island are found elsewhere. Some sampling of freshwater fauna has been undertaken during recent expeditions and records to date indicate that the freshwater fauna includes a species of Protista, a gastrotrich, two species of tardigrade, at least four species of nematode, 26 species of rotifer, six species of annelid and 14 species of arthropod.
As with the other shore biota, the marine macro-invertebrate fauna of Heard Island is similar in composition and local distribution to other subantarctic islands, although relatively little is known about the Heard Island communities compared with the well-studied fauna of some other islands in the subantarctic region, such as Macquarie and Kerguelen.
Despite Heard Island's isolation, species richness is considered to be moderate, rather than depauperate, although the number of endemic species reported is low. The large macro-alga Durvillaea antarctica supports a diverse array of invertebrate taxa and may play an important role in transporting some of this fauna to Heard Island.
The rocky shores of Heard Island exhibit a clear demarcation between fauna of the lower kelp holdfast zone and the upper shore zone community, probably due to effects of desiccation, predation and freezing in the higher areas. The limpet Nacella kerguelensis is abundant in the lower part of the shore, being found on rock surfaces and on kelp holdfasts. Other common but less abundant species in this habitat include the chiton Hemiarthrum setulosum and the starfish Anasterias mawsoni. The amphipod Hyale sp. and the isopod Cassidinopsis sp. are closely associated with the kelp. Above the kelp holdfast zone, the littornid Laevilitorina (Corneolitorina) heardensis and the bivalve mollusc Kidderia bicolor are found in well-sheltered situations, and another bivalve Gaimardia trapesina trapesina has been recorded from immediately above the holdfast zone. Oligochaetes are also abundant in areas supporting porous and spongy layers of algal mat.
Heard Island has a number of small wetland sites scattered around its coastal perimeter, including areas of wetland vegetation, lagoons or lagoon complexes, rocky shores and sandy shores, including the Elephant Spit. Many of these wetland areas are separated by active glaciers. There are also several short glacier-fed streams and glacial pools. Some wetland areas have been recorded on McDonald Island but, due to substantial volcanic activity since the last landing was made in 1980, their present extent is unknown.
The HIMI wetland is listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia and, in a recent analysis of Commonwealth-managed wetlands, was ranked highest for nomination under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) as an internationally important wetland.
Six wetland types have been identified from HIMI covering approximately 1860 ha: coastal ‘pool complex’ (237 ha); inland ‘pool complex’ (105 ha); vegetated seeps mostly on recent glaciated areas (18 ha); glacial lagoons (1103 ha); non-glacial lagoons (97ha); Elephant Spit (300 ha) plus some coastal areas. On Heard Island, the majority of these types suites are found below 150 m asl. The wetland vegetation occurs in the ‘wet mixed herbfield’ and ‘coastal biotic vegetation’ communities described above.
The wetlands provide important breeding and feeding habitat for a number of Antarctic and subantarctic wetland animals. These include the southern elephant seal and macaroni, gentoo, king and southern rockhopper penguins, considered to be wetland species under the Ramsar Convention. Non-wetland vegetated parts of the islands also support penguin and other seabird colonies.
Neither island-cluster had recorded visitors until the mid-1850s.
An American sailor, Captain John Heard, on the ship Oriental, sighted Heard Island on 25 November 1853, en route from Boston to Melbourne. He reported the discovery one month later and had the island named after him. Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang discovered the nearby McDonald Islands six weeks later, on 4 January 1854.
No landing took place on the islands until March 1855, when sealers from the Corinthian, led by Captain Erasmus Darwin Rogers, went ashore at a place called Oil Barrel Point. In the sailing period from 1855 to 1880 a number of American sealers spent a year or more on the island, living in appalling conditions in dark smelly huts, also at Oil Barrel Point. At its peak the community consisted of 200 people. By 1880 sealers had wiped out most of the seal population and then left the island. In all the islands furnished more than 100,000 barrels of elephant-seal oil during this period.
A number of wrecks have occurred in the vicinity of the islands. There is also a discarded building left from John Heard's sealing station which is situated near Atlas Cove.
There were five private expeditions to Heard Island between 1965 and 2000. Several amateur radio operators have visited Heard, often associated with scientific expeditions. The first activity there was in 1947 by Alan Campbell-Drury. Amateur radio DXpeditions to the island took place in 1983 (two) and January 1997 (callsign VK0IR). The recent DXpedition in March 2016 (VK0EK) was organised by Cordell Expeditions and made over 75,000 radio contacts.
In 1991, the islands were the location for the Heard Island feasibility test, an experiment in very long distance transmission of low frequency sound through the ocean. The US Navy vessels MV Cory Chouest and Amy Chouest were used to transmit signals which could be detected as far away as both ocean coasts of the US and Canada. The Cory Chouest was chosen because of its central moon pool and because it was already equipped with an array of low frequency transmitters. A phase-modulated 57Hz signal was used. The experiment was successful and demonstrated that such sound waves could travel as far as the antipodes. Planned transmissions had been for ten days, although owing to the bad weather conditions and the high failure rate of the transmitter elements, used at a frequency below their design frequency, the transmissions were terminated on the sixth day, when only two of the original ten transducers were still working.
The United Kingdom formally established its claim to Heard Island in 1910, marked by the raising of the Union Flag and the erection of a beacon by Captain Evensen, master of the Mangoro. Effective government, administration and control of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands was transferred to the Australian government on 26 December 1947 at the commencement of the first Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) to Heard Island, with a formal declaration that took place at Atlas Cove. The transfer was confirmed by an exchange of letters between the two governments on 19 December 1950.
The islands are a territory (Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands) of Australia administered from Hobart by the Australian Antarctic Division of the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy. The administration of the territory is established in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Act 1953, which places it under the laws of the Australian Capital Territory and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. The islands are contained within a 65,000-square-kilometre (25,000 sq mi) marine reserve and are primarily visited for research, meaning that there is no permanent human habitation.
From 1947 until 1955 there were camps of visiting scientists on Heard Island (at Atlas Cove in the northwest, which was in 1969 again occupied by American scientists and expanded in 1971 by French scientists) and in 1971 on McDonald Island (at Williams Bay). Later expeditions used a temporary base at Spit Bay in the east, such as in 1988, 1992–93 and 2004–05.
The islands' only natural resource is fish; the Australian government allows limited fishing in the surrounding waters. Despite the lack of population, the islands have been assigned the country code HM in ISO 3166-1 (ISO 3166-2:HM) and therefore the Internet top-level domain .hm. The timezone of the islands is UTC+5.
The Antarctic tern (Sterna vittata) is a typical tern. It ranges throughout the southern oceans. It is very similar in appearance to the closely related Arctic tern, but is stockier, and the wing tips are grey instead of blackish in flight. It is in breeding plumage in the southern summer, when the Arctic tern has moulted to its non-breeding plumage (though this is not useful for separating it from another species, the South American tern).
Breeding takes place from mid-November to early December. Chicks hatch from December to February. Skuas and jaegers are the primary predators of the bird's eggs and young.
The total global population of this bird is around 140,000 individuals.Australian marine parks
Australian marine parks (formerly Commonwealth marine reserves) are marine protected areas located within Australian waters and are managed by the Australian government. These waters generally extend from three nautical miles off the coast to the outer limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone at 200 nautical miles while marine protected areas located closer in-shore are the responsibility of the states or the Northern Territory.Azorella selago
Azorella selago is a species of cushion plant native to the sub-Antarctic islands of the Southern Ocean, including the Crozet Islands, the Possession Islands, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, and the Prince Edward Islands. The closely related Azorella macquariensis, which is endemic to Macquarie Island, was split from it taxonomically in 1989. A. selago is often a keystone species where it occurs and is well studied for its contribution to its native ecosystems.Black-faced sheathbill
The black-faced sheathbill (Chionis minor), also known as the lesser sheathbill or paddy bird, is one of only two species of sheathbills, aberrant shorebirds which are terrestrial scavengers of subantarctic islands.Brown skua
The brown skua (Stercorarius antarcticus), also known as the Antarctic skua, subantarctic skua, southern great skua, southern skua, or hākoakoa (Māori), is a large seabird that breeds in the subantarctic and Antarctic zones and moves further north when not breeding. Its taxonomy is highly complex and a matter of dispute, with some splitting it into two or three species: Falkland skua (S. antarcticus), Tristan skua (S. hamiltoni), and subantarctic skua (S. lönnbergi). To further confuse, it hybridizes with both the south polar and Chilean skuas, and the entire group has been considered to be a subspecies of the great skua, a species otherwise restricted to the Northern Hemisphere.Cave Bay
Cave Bay (53°2′S 73°22′E) is a cove, 0.3 nautical miles (0.6 km) wide, which has been formed by the erosion of an extinct volcanic crater of which Mount Andree forms the north side, indenting the west side of Heard Island between West Bay and South West Bay. The cove is roughly charted on an American sealer's sketch map prepared during the 1860–70 period. It was more accurately charted and first named on a geological sketch map illustrating the 1929 work of the British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition under Douglas Mawson.Fulmar prion
The fulmar prion (Pachyptila crassirostris) is a species of seabird in the Procellariidae family, found in the southern oceans.Geography of the Heard and McDonald Islands
The geography of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) refers to the geography of Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, one of the most remote places on earth. The islands belong to Australia and are located 4,000 kilometres (2,485.5 mi) southwest of the mainland in the Southern Ocean. These subantarctic islands were transferred to Australia by the United Kingdom in 1947. They lie between Madagascar and Antarctica.HIMI has no ports or harbours; ships must anchor offshore. The coastline is 101.9 kilometres (63.3 mi), and a 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) territorial sea and 200-nautical-mile (370 km; 230 mi) exclusive fishing zone are claimed. The HIMI marine zone, situated to the south of the Antarctic Convergence, is a biological hot spot for breeding and non-breeding seabirds and marine mammals such as penguins, petrels, elephant seals and fur seals. HIMI was inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999 under the title " "Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands".Heard Island shag
The Heard Island shag (Leucocarbo nivalis), or Heard Island cormorant, is a marine cormorant native to the Australian territory comprising the Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean, about 4100 km south-west of Perth, Western Australia.Laurens Peninsula
Laurens Peninsula (53°0′S 73°18′E) is a rugged peninsula surmounted by several ice-covered peaks that forms the northwestern part of Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean. The name was applied by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition following their survey in 1948. It derives from the existing name Cape Laurens, applied for the northwestern extremity of this peninsula after the American bark Laurens which, under Captain Franklin F. Smith, visited Heard Island in 1855–56 and assisted in initiating sealing operations there.List of birds of Heard and McDonald Islands
This is a list of the birds of Heard Island and the adjacent McDonald Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. For other animals there, see List of non-avian fauna of Heard Island and McDonald Islands.
The birds of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, a subantarctic Australian territory between Australia, Africa and Antarctica, are, whether breeders or visitors, almost all seabirds which find their food at sea in the waters of the surrounding Southern Ocean. An exception is the black-faced sheathbill, an opportunistic scavenger around seal and penguin colonies and the only solely terrestrial breeding bird species present on the islands. The southern giant-petrel and Subantarctic skua are also scavengers as well as predators at seabird colonies.
Heard Island is an important breeding site for macaroni, eastern rockhopper, gentoo and king penguins. Endemic species or subspecies are the Heard shag and the black-faced sheathbill. The surrounding waters are home to numerous species of albatross and petrel, some of which breed on the islands, including the endangered southern giant-petrel and the wandering albatross, both threatened by long-line fishing.List of non-avian fauna of Heard Island and McDonald Islands
The following non-avian fauna have been observed on and around Heard Island and the adjacent McDonald Islands, which are part of the same Australian territory. For the birds see List of birds of Heard and McDonald Islands.
Included on this list are seven species of mammal, 23 taxa of fish, 25 species of terrestrial arthropods, one land snail, one flowering plant, and one species of kelp.Mawson Peak
Mawson Peak is an active volcanic summit of the Big Ben massif on Heard Island, an external Australian territory in the Southern Ocean.
With an elevation of 2,745 metres (9,006 ft), it is the third highest peak in any state or territory of Australia, higher than the 2,228-metre (7,310 ft) Mount Kosciuszko, and surpassed only by the 3,490-metre (11,450 ft) Mount McClintock and the 3,355-metre (11,007 ft) Mount Menzies claimed in the Australian Antarctic Territory. The peak erupted as recently as April 2013 and February 2016.McDonald Islands (Australia)
The McDonald Islands (53°3′34.9″S 72°35′32.2″E) are an archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean in the vicinity of Heard Island (53°06′S 73°31′E). They are the emergent peaks of submarine volcanoes and are Australian external territory. Prior to 1992, there had not been an eruption in the previous 75,000 years.Poa annua
Poa annua, or annual meadow grass (known in America more commonly as annual bluegrass or simply poa), is a widespread low-growing turfgrass in temperate climates. Though P. annua is commonly considered a solely annual plant due to its name, perennial bio-types do exist. Poa (πόα) is Greek for "fodder". It is one of the sweetest grasses for green fodder, but less useful than hay. This grass may have originated as a hybrid between Poa supina and Poa infirma.Schmidt Glacier (Heard Island and McDonald Islands)
Schmidt Glacier (53°3′S 73°24′E) is a glacier, 0.7 nautical miles (1.3 km) long, flowing west from Baudissin Glacier between Mount Drygalski and North West Cornice, on the west side of Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean. To the north of Schmidt Glacier is Baudissin Glacier, whose terminus is located at the western side of Corinthian Bay, near Sealers Cove. Kildalkey Head is west of Schmidt Glacier. To the south of Schmidt Glacier is Vahsel Glacier, whose terminus is at South West Bay, between Erratic Point and Cape Gazert. Immediately south of Vahsel Glacier is Allison Glacier. Click here to see a map of Schmidt Glacier and the northwestern coast of Heard Island.Winston Lagoon
Winston Lagoon (53°9′S 73°39′E) is a lagoon indenting the southeast coast of Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) northeast of Cape Lockyer. The feature is roughly portrayed on an American sealer chart of the 1860 period. It was sighted from the air by Lieutenant Malcolm Smith, RAAF, pilot of the ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions) seaplane that made the first reconnaissance flight over the island in 1948. Lieutenant Smith proposed that it be named Lake Winston after his wife. In view of his death in an aircraft accident shortly afterward, this proposal was adopted by Australian Antarctic Names and Medals Committee (ANCA) with only a change of generic term. Click here to see a map of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, including all major topographical features.
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Winston Lagoon" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).