Columnar basalt (Auckland Islands, New Zealand)

The seashores of the Subantarctic can be crowded with penguins and seals in the southern summer...

Class Aves: Birds

Order Charadriiformes: waders & shorebirds

Family Stercorariidae: 'Skuas' and 'Jaegers'

MacquarieBird(Macquarie Island, Australia)

Stercorarius antarcticus, 'Brown Skua', 'Antarctic Skua'.

Family Laridae: Gulls

Family Spheniscidae: Penguins

Eudyptes spp. 'Crested Penguins'

penguin-macaroni-fortuna-bay(South Georgia)

Eudyptes chrysolophus, 'Macaroni Penguin'. Looks similar to the Southern Rockhopper, which can overlap in range, but has a much more orange coloured crest.

MacquarieRoyal(Macquarie Island)

Eudyptes schlegeli, 'Royal Penguin'. Breeds only on Macquarie Island.

macquarieRockHoper(Macquarie Island, Australia)

Eudyptes chrysocome filholi, 'Eastern Rockhopper Penguin'. Considered a sub-species of the 'Southern Rockhopper Penguin'. Breeds on subantarctic islands in the southern Indian Ocean and south of Australia and New Zealand.

Aptenodytes spp.

south-georgia-kings(South Georgia)

Aptenodytes patagonicus, 'King Penguin'.

south-georgia-king-juv(South Georgia)

Juvenile of a 'King Penguin'. The young look so different, they were initially thought of being a different species.


Another unusual feature of the 'King Penguin' is their eye. In low light the pupils are round in shape, like almost all other birds. However, when they constrict they form a square or diamond shape, as pictured above.

Megadyptes spp.

penguin-yellow-eyed-auklands(Auckland Islands)

Megadyptes antipodes, 'Yellow-eyed Penguins'.

Order Procellariiformes: Tubenoses

Family Diomedeidae: Albatrosses

albatross-light-mantled(Auckland Islands)

Phoebetria palpebrata, 'Light-mantled Sooty Albatross'.

Family Procellariidae: Petrels

macquariePetrelGuant(Macquarie Island, Australia)

Macronectes giganteus, 'Southern Giant Petrel'.

Family Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants

Family Motacillidae

south-georgia-pipit(South Georgia)

Anthus antarcticus, 'South Georgia Pipit'. The only passerine found on South Georgia.

Class Mammalia

Pinnipeds: Seals

(Macquarie Island)


Stromness, South Georgia)

A scarred male (Antarctic) Fur Seal, surrounded by female and pups.

(Auckland Islands, New Zealand)

Male 'New Zealand Sea Lion' or 'Hooker's Sea Lion' fighting.

Family Phocidae: True Seals

(Auckland Islands, New Zealand)

Hydrurga leptonyx'Leopard Seal'. When hauled out, they have a distinctive 'lumpy' shape.

(Macquarie Island, Australia)

Mirounga leonina, 'Elephant Seals'.

For the page on the places to experience the Subantarctic shore

In many ways the subantarctic is underrated compared to the Antarctic. The Subantarctic has a desolate windswept lonely feel, and there is where one can get a much higher diversity of penguins and other sea birds such as albatross and petrels.

Most tourists go on one of the many ships that go to the Malvinas/Falklands and South Georgia on the usual milk run from Ushuaia in Argentina.

The Australian/New Zealand side is not as regularly visited as the South American side, due to the longer distances and inconvenience. However, there are several species, including some endemics, that can not be seen unless you visit this region. Most of the subantarctic islands accessible from the Australasian region politically belong to New Zealand: including the Snares, Auckland and Campbell. There is one island on this mainly underwater ridge that comes out from New Zealand that belongs to Australia, called Macquarie Island.

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