Friday, November 15

The amazing isolation of a plateau.

The plateau’s islands area unit implausibly isolated and supply the sole breeding and land-based refuge for birds and seals during this a part of the Southern Ocean.

Submarine volcanoes, a number of them active, surround the islands and area unit notably plenteous round the younger McDonald Islands.

The tableland cuts across the sturdy current systems that sweep round the South Pole. This thrusts deep, cold water, enriched with volcanic minerals, to the surface then back to the seafloor. In turn, this powers a organic phenomenon stretching from little brute to fish and predators like Patagonian toothfish, penguins and albatross, and diving marine mammals like elephant seals and gamete whales.

Carbon and nutrients came to the seafloor support various communities of invertebrate and fish species that might not inhabit this location if not for the tableland.

The orientation and site of the Kerguelen tableland build it a canary within the coalmine for understanding the southward shift in marine ecology thanks to global climate change. As ocean temperatures rise and ocean currents shift, plant and animal species can move south in search of cooler waters.

Recent modelling suggests those species most in danger from global climate change during this region area unit those inactive or slow invertebrates, like ocean urchins.