Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI), Australia’s most remote island group, is located in the southern Indian Ocean.
Together with the French territory, Îles Kerguelen, Heard Island and the McDonald Islands comprise the only non-submerged part of the predominantly submarine Kerguelen Plateau.
The islands are situated over 4000 kilometres southwest of Perth in Western Australia and over 1700 kilometres north of Australia’s Mawson station on the Antarctic continent.
The northern and central parts of the Kerguelen Plateau are predominantly shallower than 1000 metres in depth while the southern plateau is characterised by deeper waters, ranging from 1500 to 3000 metres.
The plateau is surrounded by deep ocean basins. To the northwest is the Crozet Basin, to the northeast is the Australian-Antarctic Basin, the Labuan Basin is to the east, the 3500 metre deep Princess Elizabeth Trough is to the south, and to the southwest is the Enderby Abyssal Plain.
Several frontal systems have an important influence on the marine environment and ecosystems around HIMI.
HIMI’s remoteness has made marine research surveys in this area logistically difficult and relatively infrequent. Nevertheless, three comprehensive biological and oceanographic surveys were carried out during the early 1990s.
During the summer of 2003/04 an ambitious multi-disciplinary study was carried out integrating research on the foraging activities of predators with the oceanography and biology of the seas surrounding Heard Island.