Cool fact…
One of the more striking features of Heard Island lies underfoot. Mixed in among the grains of black volcanic sand are glassy green crystals of the mineral olivine. Most crystals are very small, but some are up to 4 mm long.

Fishes

Benthic fish 'caught' on underwater video footage at HIMI
Benthic fish 'caught' on underwater video footage at HIMI (Photo: AAD)

The near shore fish community (within 12 nautical miles of the coast) around Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (HIMI) is similar to those at other subantarctic islands.

The families Nototheniidae (Antarctic cods) and Channichthyidae (icefishes) dominate the near shore waters, both in number of species and in abundance. Most of the near shore species are found on the wider underwater Kerguelen Plateau around HIMI, although some species are only found close to shore.

In the deeper waters, and beyond the Kerguelen Plateau (greater the 500 m deep), dominant species or groups are toothfish, macrourids (grenadier fish, having an elongate tapering body and a compressed pointed tail) and skates, while myctophids (lantern fish) dominate the more distant oceanic waters.

An Australian commercial fishery has operated in the HIMI region since 1997. The fishery targets Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari).

This page was last modified on 28 February 2005.