Macquarie Island environment

Looking towards Caroline Cove
Looking towards Caroline Cove. Photo D. Ross
Lakes amongst rugged landscapeRugged coast, expeditioner in foregroundRugged west coastHeavy surf in windy weatherTwo fur seals sparring King penguins & chicks, misty gully in background

Macquarie Island is a subantarctic island located in the Southern Ocean at a latitude of 54° 30' south, 158° 57' east, approximately halfway between Antarctica and Australia.

It lies 1466 km SSE of Tasmania and 1 294 km north of the Antarctic continent.

The island, or "Macca" as it is often called, is 34 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide at its widest point. It is a Tasmanian State Reserve managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

The island lies just to the north of an oceanic boundary, the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone or Antarctic Convergence, where cold polar water to the south meets the warmer subantarctic water to the north.

It is a breeding place for millions of seabirds, mostly penguins. The island is home for 25 bird species, including four penguin species. Seals, including the world's largest species, the elephant seal, also haul out on the beaches for breeding.

In good weather, it takes about three days to reach Macquarie Island from Hobart. Ships anchor in Buckles Bay to the east of the station. Ship-to-shore transport is via helicopter, amphibious vehicles called LARCs or inflatable rubber boats (IRBs).

This page was last modified on 17 February 2011.