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Macquarie Island

Main attractions

Macquarie Island, eastern coast
Macquarie Island, Sandy Bay / M.Murphy, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The small and remote Macquarie Island is a part of Australia. This island has several interesting features. Two of these features are:

  • Unique geology of the island: this island is a horst - a rised block of oceanic crust. There are not many places in the world where the oceanic crust is exposed above the sea level and Macquarie Island is the best section of oceanic crust worldwide. It is possible that here are exposed even the rocks of the upper mantle what is very rare case.
  • Penguin colonies: on the island have been spotted nine species of penguins - approximately half of total number of species. Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) breed only on Macquarie Island and nearby islands. In total in this island live some 850,000 royal penguins (estimate for 1987). Together with other species they form enormous, very impressive breeding colonies with millions of birds. There live also thousands of seals on the island.

There are other endemic species in this island as well. Macquarie shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps purpurascens) is subspecies of Imperial shag. Only some 400 - 500 breeding pairs remain on Macquarie island and maximum 100 pairs on nearby Bishop and Clerk Islets.

Island contains also several endemic species of mites (Nanorchestes), some six endemic species of flies, one land snail, one moth, some earthworms.

Wildlife sanctuary here was established in 1933, in 1997 the island became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Main attractions

Macquarie Island, penguin colony
Royal penguins in Macquarie Island / M.Murphy, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
  • Exposures of oceanic crust in north-western part of Macquarie Island - exposures of basic and ultrabasic rocks formed under the ocean in Miocene and Pliocene. Unique, near-complete section of oceanic crust, providing very important geological information of global importance.
  • Hurd Point penguin colony - very southern part of island. Largest colony if royal penguins in the world, with some 180,000 breeding pairs.
  • Penguin colony of Lusitania Bay - south-eastern coast of island. Giant colony of royal penguins. Lusitania Bay colony recently has been fully occupied and penguins are coming to other parts of island as well. In 1980 here were living 218 000 birds.
  • Sandy Bay penguin colony - another very impressive penguin colony. Basically bird colonies are all around the island. Sandy Bay was inhabited by king penguins in 1975.
  • Aurora Cave - western coast. Impressive sea cave in relict sea stack, now rised out of the sea and surrounded by featherbed - wetland. There are several such caves on island - they can be important sources of information about the species of seals and birds living here in the past.

List of described attractions

Map of Macquarie Island

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