Marine Research on the Kerguelen Plateau: from early scientific expeditions to current surveys under the CCAMLR objectives

Hureau J.C.

Date de parution: septembre 2011
Volume: 35
Number: SP
Pagination: 005-013
Editeur: Société Française d'Ichtyologie

Since the discovery of Kerguelen Islands by Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen-Tremarec in 1772 and of Heard Island by Peter Kemp in 1833, a considerable number and a great variety of ships (e.g., sealers, whalers, fishing ships, oceanographic ships, navy ships and sailing boats) visited the Kerguelen Plateau, around Kerguelen Islands and the Heard and McDonald Islands. From 1772 to 1835 (the date of the last sealing voyage from Britain), not less than 78 ships came to the area, of which two have conducted scientific surveys: Cook in 1776 (his 3rd voyage) on board HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery (hydrographic works); and Rhodes in 1799 on board Hillsborough (accurate charting of the northern and eastern coasts of Kerguelen Islands). During the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century, until 1922 (the date of the last sealing voyage from the United States), 223 ships (mostly US sealers) came to Kerguelen and Heard Islands. Only seven expeditions carried-out marine scientific surveys: magnetic observations by Ross (1840, HMS Erebus, HMS Terror), oceanographic research and scientific observations by Sir C.W. Thomson (1874, HMS Challenger), hydrographic surveys by Lieutard (1892, Eure), oceanographical observations by Chun (1898, Valdivia), sounding and dredging by Von Drygalski (1902, Gauss), survey of the south and west coasts of Kerguelen Islands by Ring (1910, Jeanne d’Arc), and hydrographic survey by Rallier du Baty (1913, La Curieuse). During the years 1923 to 1970, 78 ships visited the area. It is only after 1949-1950 that a regular, systematic exploration of the Kerguelen Plateau began, with the establishment of a shore station at Port-aux-Français. The first marine biological collections were made by Aretas in 1950 (Lapérouse and Commandant Charcot). In 1951-1952, Herdman (Discovery II) and Angot (Vercors), made oceanographical studies. In 1957-1958, a comprehensive coastal survey of Kerguelen Islands was achieved with the small motorboat Commandant Loranchet. In 1961-1962 the first algological investigations were done (Galliéni). In 1961, the first investigation for the fisheries resources for Notothenia species off Kerguelen Islands was made by the Soviet Union and France (Bikin, Danko). From that time, marine biology studies were carried out: benthos research (1962-1963), ichthyological investigations (L’Oiseau) (1963-1966) and microbiological studies. The first fish trawling survey around Kerguelen Islands occurred in 1968 (Sapmer). In 1968-1969, the construction of a marine biological station at Port-aux-Français helped to develop all studies in marine biology. In 1970, a motorboat (16 m long), La Japonaise, was used for marine investigations at Kerguelen Islands. It was replaced by La Curieuse (25 m long) in 1989. From 1970 to 1981, the Soviet Union sent about 130 trawlers to the fishing grounds. Poland sent trawlers for fisheries and hydrological survey around Kerguelen, Skiff Bank, Heard and Crozet (Profesor Siedlecki, Lacerta, Manta) and from 1981 to 1998, a French trawler (Austral) exploited the fishery each year. Several scientific cruises on the Kerguelen Plateau (including Heard Island and the fjords of Kerguelen Islands) were carried out with the Marion Dufresne (cruise MD03/ichtyo, 1974; MD04/benthos, 1975; MD08/benthos, 1976). The Marion Dufresne participated in Biological Investigations of Marine Antarctic Systems and Stocks programmes (BIOMASS) in south western area of the Kerguelen Plateau (MD24/Biomasse, 1980; MD25/FIBEX, 1980-1981; MD42/SIBEX, 1982-1983). In 1978, France declared an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles around Kerguelen Islands, Crozet, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam. In 1979, Australia did the same around Heard and McDonald Islands. A series of fish and krill investigations and surveys off Kerguelen Islands were made in 1979 (Jutland, Melitopoj, Ritsa, Kadanchik), and in 1983 (Austral). Since 1981, one or several trawlers or longliners exploited the fishing grounds, with an observer on board. In 1982, the first meeting of the scientific Committee of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) took place in Hobart.

Mots-clés: Heard/McDonald - History - Kerguelen Plateau - Marine research - Scientific surveys
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