The external territories of Australia, Heard Island and McDonald Island are home to many marine wildlife and birds. Their largest population of animal are the penguines and there are four different species: the King, Macaroni, Gentoo and the Rockhopper. This last species looks just like the really short penguins from Happy Feet the movie. The islands are also a home to three species of Seals: the Southern Elephant, Antarctic Fur Seal
and the Subantarctic Fur Seal
. The Leopard Seals
are frequent visitors, but the Weddell, Crabeater and Ross Seals
are seen often on the Island.
Heard Island has 15 species of flying birds that use the island as a breeding ground. There are seven species (four which are burrowing) of Petrels including the endangered Southern Giant Petrel and three species of albatross. You will also find the Heard Island Cormorant, the Antarctic Tern
, the Heard Island Sheatbill and kelp gulls
. Besides being a bit crowded, can you just imagine the noise, especially at mating season! The black-faced Sheatbill is considered endemic to Heard Island and is not considered a true seabird.
On Mcdonald Island 23 species of marine mammals can be found. Five species of seals, thirteen species of whale, two dolphins and a porpoise have been recorded in the surrounding seas. These include the blue whale
, Balaena whale, Balaenoptera whale, sei whale
and sperm whale. McDonald also has 11 species of birds that are similar to Heards'.
The habitat of these creatures is predominantly rock and reefs; Heard Island is 80% glaciated meaning that it is ice up to 150m deep and there are 12 glaciers extending from 2,745m to sea level. Mcdonald Island is a sloping plateau at the northern edge and a steep-sided hill at the south with its smaller islands being rocky islets. This group is ice-free.