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Crozet Islands
Îles Crozet
MottoLiberté, égalité, fraternité
AnthemLa Marseillaise
Orthographic projection centred over the Iles Crozet
Location Indian Ocean
Coordinates 46°25′S 51°59′E / 46.417°S 51.983°E / -46.417; 51.983Coordinates: 46°25′S 51°59′E / 46.417°S 51.983°E / -46.417; 51.983
Archipelago Crozet Islands
Total islands 6
Major islands 3
Area 352 km2 (136 sq mi)
Highest point Mont Marion-Dufresne (1,050 m (3,445 ft))
Overseas territory French Southern and Antarctic Lands
District Crozet Islands

The Crozet Islands (French: Îles Crozet; or, officially, Archipel Crozet) are a sub-antarctic archipelago of small islands in the southern Indian Ocean. They form one of the five administrative districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.



Not including minor islets or rock reefs etc, the Crozet group consists of six islands. From east to west:

No. Island or Group (English) Area Highest Peak Location
L'Occidental (Western Group)
1 Île aux Cochons (Pig Island) 67 km2 (26 sq mi) Mont Richard-Foy, 770 m (2,526 ft) 46°06′S 50°14′E / 46.1°S 50.233°E / -46.1; 50.233 (Pig Island)
2 Île des Pingouins (Penguin Island, literally Auk Island) 3 km2 (1.2 sq mi) Mont des Manchots 340 m (1,115 ft) 46°25′S 50°24′E / 46.417°S 50.4°E / -46.417; 50.4 (Penguin Island)
3 Îlots des Apôtres (Apostle Islets)(1) 2 km2 (0.8 sq mi) Mont Pierre, 289 m (948 ft) 45°57′S 50°25′E / 45.95°S 50.417°E / -45.95; 50.417 (Îlots des Apôtres)
L'Oriental (Eastern Group)
4 Île de la Possession (Possession Island) 150 km2 (58 sq mi) Pic du Mascarin, 934 m (3,064 ft) 46°24′S 51°46′E / 46.4°S 51.767°E / -46.4; 51.767 (Possession Island)
5 Île de l'Est (East Island) 130 km2 (50 sq mi) Mont Marion-Dufresne, 1,050 m (3,445 ft) 46°25′S 52°12′E / 46.417°S 52.2°E / -46.417; 52.2 (East Island)
  Îles Crozet (Crozet Islands) 352 km2 (136 sq mi) Mont Marion-Dufresne, 1,050 m (3,445 ft) 45°57' to 46°29'S
50°10' to 52°19'E
Map of the Crozet Islands
The Marion Dufresne off the "port" of Crozet. East Island in the background.

(1)group of two major islands (Grand Île - Big Island, and Petite Île - Little Island) and about 20 pinnacle rocks.

The Eastern and Western Groups are 94.5 kilometres (58.7 mi) apart (from Île des Pingouins to Île de la Possession)

The Crozet Islands are uninhabited, except for the research station Alfred Faure (Port Alfred) on the East side of Île de la Possession, which has been continuously manned since 1963. Prvious scientific stations included La Grande Manchotière and La Petite Manchotière.



Analysis of magnetic anomalies on the sea floor indicates that the Crozet Plateau formed some 50 million years ago. The islands are of volcanic origin, and basalt. Rock samples indicate volcanic origins going back to at least 8.8 million years.


Precipitation is, with over 2,000 mm (78.7 in) per year. It rains on average 300 days a year, and winds exceeding 100 km/h (60 mph) occur on 100 days a year. The temperatures may rise to 18 °C (64 °F) in summer and rarely go below 5 °C (41 °F) even in winter.

Flora and fauna

One of the penguin colonies of the islands

The islands are part of the Southern Indian Ocean Islands tundra ecoregion that includes several subantarctic islands. In this cold climate plant life is mainly limited to grasses, mosses and lichens, while the main animals are insects along with large populations of seabirds, seals and penguins.[1]

The Crozet Islands are home to four species of penguins. Most abundant are the Macaroni Penguin, of which some 2 million pairs breed on the islands, and the King Penguin. The Eastern Rockhopper Penguin also can be found, and there is a small colony of Gentoo Penguins. Other birds include Black-faced Sheathbills, petrels, and albatross, including the Wandering Albatross.

Animals living on the Crozet Islands include fur seals, and Southern Elephant Seals. Killer whales have been observed preying upon the seals. The transient Killer Whales of the Crozet Islands are famous for intentionally beaching (and later un-stranding) themselves while actively hunting the islands' breeding seal population. This is a very rare behaviour, most often seen in the Patagonia region of Argentina, and is thought to be a learned skill passed down through generations of individual Orca families.

The Crozet Islands have been a nature reserve since 1938. Introduction of foreign species (mice, rats, and subsequently cats for pest control) has caused severe damage to the original ecosystem. The pigs that had been introduced on Île des Cochons and the goats brought to Île de la Possession—both as a food resource—have been exterminated.

Another on-going concern is overfishing of the Patagonian Toothfish and the Albatross population is monitored. The waters of the Crozet Islands are patrolled by the French government.


The Eastern Group

The Crozet Islands were first discovered by the expedition of Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, a French explorer, who landed on January 24, 1772 on Île de la Possession, claiming the archipelago for France. He named the islands after his second-in-command Jules Crozet (He had already named Marion Island after himself).

In the early 19th century, the islands were often visited by sealers, to the extent that the seals had been nearly exterminated by 1835. Subsequently, whaling was the main activity around the islands, especially by the whalers from Massachusetts. In 1841 there were a dozen whaleships around the islands. Within a couple of years this had increased to twenty from the United States alone. Such exploitation was short-lived, and the islands were rarely visited for the rest of the century.

Shipwrecks occurred frequently at the Crozet Islands. The British sealer, Princess of Wales, sank in 1821, and the survivors spent two years on the islands. The Strathmore was wrecked in 1875. In 1887, the French Tamaris was wrecked and her crew stranded on Île des Cochons. They tied a note to the leg of an Albatross, which was found seven months later in Fremantle. Alas, the crew was never recovered. Because shipwrecks around the islands were so common, for some time the Royal Navy dispatched a ship every few years to look for stranded survivors.

France originally administered the islands as a dependency of Madagascar, but they became part of the French Southern Territories in 1955. In 1938, the Crozet Islands were declared a nature reserve. In 1961, a first research station was set up, but it wasn't until 1963 that the permanent station Alfred Faure opened at Port Albert on Île de la Possession (both named after the first leader of the station). The station is staffed by 18 to 30 people (depending on the season) and does meteorological, biological, and geological research and maintains a seismograph.

See also


  • LeMasurier, W. E.; Thomson, J. W. (eds.) (1990). Volcanoes of the Antarctic Plate and Southern Oceans. American Geophysical Union. pp. 512 pp. ISBN 0-87590-172-7. 
  • Church, Ian (1985). Survival on the Crozet Islands: the Wreck of the Strathmore in 1875. Heritage Press, Waikanae, New Zealand. pp. 114 pp. ISBN 0908708025. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CROZET ISLANDS, an uninhabited group in the Indian Ocean, in 46°-47° S. and 51° E. They are mountainous, with summits from 4000 to 5000 ft. high, and are disposed in two divisions - Penguin or Inaccessible, Hog, Possession and East Islands; and the Twelve Apostles. Like Kerguelen, and other clusters in these southern waters, they appear to be of igneous formation; but owing to the bleak climate and their inaccessible character they are seldom visited, and have never been explored since their discovery in 1772 by Marion-Dufresne, after one of whose officers they are named. Possession, the highest, has a snowy peak said to exceed 5000 ft. Hog Island takes its name from the animals which were here let loose by an English captain many years ago, but have since disappeared. Rabbits burrow in the heaps of scoria on the slopes of the mountains.

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