three large islands (Young, Buckle, and Sturge) and numerous islets
and stacks (including Sabrina, Row, Borradaile, Chinstrap, and
Monolith), the Balleny Islands are located 66° 15' to 67°
10'S, 162° 15' to 164° 45'E, which is approximately 150
miles (240 km) off the coast of Victoria Land in the Ross Sea
region of Antarctica. The archipelago forms a chain that is about
a hundred miles (160 km) in length, and straddles the Antarctic
Circle. Its highest point is Brown Peak (roughly 6000 feet, 1800
m). Sturge Island is the largest, approximately 20 miles long
by 8 miles wide (32 by 13 km). The islands are heavily glaciated,
with cliffs of rock or ice and a few gravel beaches, and are volcanic
in origin, although no recent seismic activity has been recorded.
Islands are the only truly marine or oceanic islands (as opposed
to continental islands) other than Scott Island on the side of
Antarctica that they are on, making them distinctive from any
neighboring areas. Their biological diversity exceeds that of
any other site in the Ross Sea region.
Sabrina Island, located south-southeast of Buckle Island, was
designated a Specially Protected Area (SPA), mostly on account
of its large colony of Adélie penguins. An attempt was
made in 1999 by New Zealand to extend the SPA to cover the entire
archipelago within a sea boundary of 12 nautical miles (22 km).
Because of their remote geographical location and the difficulty
of making a landing on many of the islands, they have been protected
from human activities, but, as a consequence, they are also poorly
documented. While a preliminary soil fauna analysis has detected
mites, nematodes, and bacteria, a comprehensive study of the islands'
vegetation is yet to be conducted.
have at least seven species of breeding bird, four species of
seal, and 25 species of echinoderm. Confirmed bird breeders include
Adélie and chinstrap penguins, Cape petrels, snow petrels,
Antarctic petrels, southern fulmars, and Wilson's storm petrels.
In addition, southern giant petrels, prions, sooty shearwaters,
Arctic terns, and skuas have been identified here. The colonies
of southern fulmars are estimated to number between 10,000 and
20,000 pairs on the northwest coast of Sturge Island, while up
to 10,000 pairs of snow petrels have been estimated on the western
cliffs. Approximately 6000 southern fulmars have been counted
on Row Island.
colony of Adélie penguins is on Sabrina Island, where approximately
3500 pairs were counted in 1984. Chinstraps are found in smaller
numbers, the most notable being the three groups on Buckle Island:
Cape Cornish (c. 530 pairs), Cape Davis (c. 500 pairs), and Southeast
Promontory (c. 320 pairs).
not breed on the islands, although several species haul out on
the islands' beaches. Weddell seals have been recorded on Row
and Borradaile islands, while Weddell, crabeater, and southern
elephant seals have been observed on Borradaile Island. Leopard
seals have been observed cruising in the offshore waters, probably
of the islands occurred on 9 February 1839, when John Balleny
of the schooner Eliza Scott and Thomas Freeman of the cutter
Sabrina saw them after sailing south from New Zealand in search
of new sealing lands on behalf of the Enderby Brothers.
Adélie Penguin; Antarctic Petrel; Antarctic Prion;
Arctic Tern; Cape Petrels; Chinstrap Penguin; Crabeater Seal;
Enderby, Messrs; Leopard Seal; Shearwaters - Short-Tailed and
Sooty; Skuas: Overview; Snow Petrel; Southern Elephant Seal; Southern
Fulmar; Southern Giant Petrel; Weddell Seal; Wilson's Storm Petrel.
and Further Reading
Treaty XXIII Consultative Meeting. May 1999. Proposed Balleny
Island Specially Protected Area. Submitted by New Zealand. Agenda
Item 7f. CEP Agenda Item 5e.
Robert. Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related
historical events. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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